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Showing posts with label economy and environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economy and environment. Show all posts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ecology Experts Assist Craft Brew Alliance to Produce Better Beer with a Better Bottom Line

By Joanne Lind, communications, Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction

Most breweries are focused on getting product out the door. They have little time to consider what their wastes are costing them.

Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) is trying a new approach with the help of Ecology’s Technical Resources for Engineering Efficiency (TREE) team. CBA’s sustainability manager Julia Person asked us to assist her team in cutting waste and increasing efficiency. The goal was to eliminate as much waste as possible, while becoming more productive and continuing to produce great libations.

CBA is the merger of leading Pacific Northwest craft brewers: Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, and Kona Brewing Company. Together they aim to preserve and grow one-of-a-kind craft beers and brands. The TREE team focused on the Redhook Brewery in Woodinville. The facility’s expansive grounds host many events and include a tasting room and a full-service restaurant. Redhook wanted to improve their solid waste handling and recycling.

Cutting waste and increasing energy efficiency saves money

Our TREE team visited Redhook several times (at no charge to the company) and suggested a number of ways to reduce waste and save money. One was to carefully separate bottles, cans, and other recyclables from solid wastes coming out of the restaurant.

But the brewery also had high surcharges on their sewer bill due to excessive organic material in their discharge. Breweries struggle with this type of waste because their discharges contain expired beer product, spent grain liquids, and other brewery liquids. The trick was figuring out how to better manage these wastes. We recommended diverting spent yeast, grains, and liquids from the sewer, and instead providing them to local dairy farms for cattle feed. This got the organic materials out of their discharges and ended the high sewer surcharge.

Ecology audit identifies waste

To help Redhook with energy costs, the TREE team conducted an audit of machinery on their production line. We used an infrared device to find compressor air leaks and motors not functioning efficiently. The air leak audit found 48 leaks costing the company about $19,000 each year in electricity. The motor function audit found 18 motors and 20 gear boxes running hotter than normal.

Fixing these problems will save the brewery about 216,531 kilowatt hours per year and cut more than 17,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions - in addition to the money saved.

Redhook boasts impressive results. So far, they:
  • Reduced the costs of both sewer and electricity.
  • Eliminated the water-soap mixture used to move bottles in favor of a liquid-free bottling line. This is expected to bring an even larger drop in water usage and sewer fees.
  • Educated others by hosting a workshop to share what they learned. They also helped other breweries connect with resources throughout the Northwest Region, such as our TREE team and the Pollution Prevention Resource Center.
CBA is applying the improved practices they learned from Ecology’s TREE team to their other brewery facilities. And they’re discovering more improvements and innovations on their own. They realize cutting waste and conserving water and energy are big money savers and good for business. Beer drinkers can toast to that!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Janicki Industries scores triple win: A P2 success story

By Mariann Cook-Andrews, Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialist, Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction Program

Janicki workers apply a “peel ply” to a tool surface before
infusing the part with resin.

Janicki Industries, a composite fabrication company, scored a triple win on the preventing pollution (P2) scoreboard in 2013. They cut their dangerous waste by 20,000 pounds, saving $50,000 in the process, and improving their employees’ working conditions!

“It’s a lot cleaner environment for employees,” said Darren Wilson, Janicki’s Environmental Health and Safety Officer.

Janicki produces large-scale, high-precision molds and prototypes in its Hamilton and Sedro-Woolley facilities. They make templates in the Sedro-Woolley shop and use those templates to produce final products from carbon-fiber fabric and resin at the Hamilton shop.

Lower styrene emissions from process changes

Janicki lowered their styrene emissions at the Sedro-Woolley shop by switching to low-pressure impingement-spray equipment for resin.

Previously they used high pressure and a single nozzle for spraying. That pressure wasted material because it created an atomized “mist” of resin around the spray stream. Now, two nozzles using lower pressure “impinge” the spray streams into each other. This creates a “flow coat” without the wasted mist.

The vacuum-infusion system they use for some products also helps the air quality. Workers lay the carbon-fiber fabric on the template, then bag and seal the entire item. A vacuum pump sucks epoxy resin into the bag and throughout the fabric. The only emission is the exhaust from the vacuum pump.

“It looks like a shop where they’re [just] putting tools together. You’d hardly notice that they’re using resins,” said Wilson.

Shop towels dropped from two drums per day to one drum per week

Workers use hundreds of shop towels for cleaning the tools and products. At one time Janicki was filling two 55-gallon drums with solvent-soaked disposable rags every day. This was all dangerous waste they had to manage and dispose of at considerable cost. Switching to reusable rags has cut the waste to one drum per week. An industrial laundry cleans and returns the reusable rags.

Special orders can create more waste

The company also reduced their hazardous waste by instituting a better system for buying and storing materials. Janicki is a custom shop, where customers set the specifications. Each job is a special order and may use special supplies. They frequently had to dispose of off-specification materials. The materials also have a shelf life and may expire before the company can use them up. This added to the company’s dangerous waste. Their new system is “still a work in progress,” according to Wilson, but it is already helping the company cut back on the amount of dangerous waste they create.

Impressive? Yes, and you can find more inspiring stories on Ecology’s Pollution Prevention Success Stories web pages.

Could your business benefit from a visit with our Toxics Reduction staff? They can help with your pollution prevention (P2) efforts. Contact your regional office.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Earth… pass it on: Ecology’s joint project with the creator of The Twilight Zone

By Dan Partridge, communications manager, Water Resources Program

For many of us who sat glued to our black and white television sets for a half hour once a week in the early 1960s, the voice is immediately recognizable:
“Historians will look to the early 1970s as a turning point of concern about the world around us. This awareness centers on our environment yet today we must admit we have only begun to tackle the problem. In our nation Washington stands out as the first to address itself directly to the problems and take positive legislative action on environmental concerns. This is Rod Serling speaking for the Washington state Department of Ecology.”

How did Rod Serling get involved?

That’s how the creator of the iconic television show The Twlight Zone starts his narration of the slide show on the fledgling Department of Ecology. Gary Amos, an ecology employee at the time, created it in 1974 for school children across the state. 

Gary Amos was a 22-year-old Ecology employee in 1974. Ecology was the first government agency in the nation committed to environmental protection when it was created by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Dan Evans in 1970. Ten years earlier, the original The Twilight Zone was in its second season on network television. Like many viewers, Gary was fascinated by the show’s stories of fantasy, science fiction and psychological intrigue that often ended in a macabre twist. The endings left our imaginations racing but, as a young fan, Gary could not have imagined that he would someday meet Rod Serling, the show’s creator and producer and that Serling would help him educate the public about the Department of Ecology.

Ecology employee Gary Amos and Rod Serling in California in 1974

The first Earth Day

The activism of the 1970s that resulted in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, spurred hundreds of school children to write Gov Evans’ office about environmental concerns and put Gary on the road speaking to classrooms and community groups about Ecology’s mission and challenges.

“The environment became a huge issue. I was really busy, got to travel all over,” Gary recalled. He was a temporary employee working for Ats Kiuchi, public affairs director for Ecology, who asked Gary to “put together a program, a slide show for the kids.”

With the help of Carolyn Empey, a photographer and Ecology intern, Gary created the slide show that he first tried to narrate himself.

“That’s when I realized I didn’t have the voice,” he said. A group of Gary’s colleagues stood around talking about what to do and half joking he asked Ats’ assistant, Linda, about getting Rod Serling to narrate the slide show. The group laughed but one thing has never changed at Ecology:  administrative assistants always accomplish the impossible.

Making connections the old fashioned way

There was no Internet at that time so Linda grabbed a copy of “Who’s Who in America," looked up Serling’s address and wrote him a letter asking him if he was willing to donate his time and talents to the project.

The answer was yes but Ecology Director John Biggs asked Gary to write Serling again to make sure he knew what was meant by “donate.” Once in agreement, Gary was on his way to California. His wife and Caroyln Empey came with him but at their own expense.

Then Gary was startled when his pager went off while waiting for his plane at Sea-Tac Airport. Serling had called the agency to cancel their meeting because of an unexpected obligation. Gary reacted quickly and was able to call Serling back and work out an alternative.

Gary, his wife and Carolyn flew to Los Angeles and met Serling at a recording studio near MGM Studios where Serling recorded his narration of the Ecology slide show.

It's no mystery. Rod Serling cared about the environment

“We didn’t get charged for the studio, the technician’s time or the editor’s time,” Gary said. “The only thing I had to pay for was the spool of tape.”

A year later, Serling would be dead of a heart attack. He was only 50 years old. “He donated his time and talents because he thought it was such an important endeavor. He was concerned about pollution and air quality,” Gary said.

It was a heady experience for Gary who left Ecology shortly after completing the slide show and actually never had an opportunity to use it in a classroom presentation. He worked several years as a public school teacher but for the past 35 years has been an investment advisor in Yakima.

"It’s probably my claim to fame,” Gary said of his encounter with the creator of the Twilight Zone, “and when it’s over I hope they mention it at my funeral.”

Earth Day 2014

For Earth Day 2014, Ecology resurrected the slide show and interjected fresh information in it on the progress our agency has made in intervening decades on cleaning up and protecting the air, water and land of Washington state. Watch it now!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

IDEX goes from large to small generator and $aves thousands: A P2 success story

How waste designation saved IDEX in disposal costs

By Erin Jeffries, Community Outreach and Environmental Education Specialist, Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction Program

IDEX Health and Science in Oak Harbor, WA

The company

IDEX Health and Science is a global manufacturer. Their facility in Oak Harbor, Washington, makes products under the Upchurch Scientific and ISMATEC brands. They make fluidics – the tiny tubes, pumps, fittings, and filters used in labs and medical facilities. These products must meet precise standards.  

Know if a waste is dangerous – Designation changes everything

Businesses are required to “designate” their wastes. Designation assigns each type of waste a code. It helps determine whether a waste is considered dangerous and how it must be managed.

Correctly designating their wastes saved IDEX about $2,500 annually.

IDEX already reduced pollution by switching to a non-halogenated coolant, but they were disposing of it as dangerous, persistent waste. During a routine inspection, an Ecology dangerous waste inspector suggested testing the waste to help designate correctly.

IDEX followed up and tested their spent coolant. In this case, they needed to analyze it with a fish bioassay test. They discovered that it’s not considered dangerous waste, which saved disposal costs for 1,200 pounds of spent coolant per year.

The company later decided to look at their spent citric acid waste. Citric acid is used to protect stainless steel in their products from rust. Using the designation process, they discovered that their spent citric acid was not considered dangerous waste. This reduced their waste generation by 1,100 pounds per year.

Equipment improvements gain efficiencies

IDEX uses a saline solution in the equipment that cuts stainless steel tubing. A new kind of equipment requires only one percent of the saline compared to what they were using. Upgrading the cutting equipment reduced the saline waste by 1,600 pounds per year. As a result, they no longer have to dispose spent saline as dangerous waste.

The new equipment requires less water, so the upgrade also cut most of the water used in the process.


Reducing dangerous waste meant big results. IDEX was able to move from being a Large Quantity Generator of Dangerous Waste to a Medium Quantity Generator in 2005, then to a Small Quantity Generator in 2012. This means IDEX now has lower disposal costs and they save on their Pollution Prevention Planning Fee. They also have fewer regulations to follow – which reduces waste management costs.

Ecology Toxics Reduction Engineer Dan Ferguson said, “IDEX Oak Harbor put a lot of effort into reducing waste generation through research, testing, pilot projects, and working with its employees to find solutions.”

Reductions of dangerous waste per year:
  • 1,000 pounds spent coolant
  • 1,100 pounds spent citric acid
  • 1,600 pounds spent saline
Annual cost savings:
  • $4,290 in waste disposal
  • Reduced regulatory requirements, reducing staff time spent on waste management
Could your business benefit from a visit with our Toxics Reduction staff? They can help with your pollution prevention (P2) efforts. Contact your regional office.

For more P2 success stories, visit Ecology's website.

Friday, March 21, 2014

New facility turns garbage gas to green energy

By Erika Holmes, communications manager, Waste 2 Resources Program

The 304th Street Landfill in Graham has a new addition that helps address climate change by creating energy from waste. BioFuels Washington, working in partnership with Pierce County Recycling, Composting and Disposal, or Land Recovery, Inc. (LRI), built a new facility that converts LRI’s landfill gas into electricity. Turning waste into usable resources is a goal of the Washington Department of Ecology’s Waste 2 Resources Program. Along with Governor Inslee, our staff congratulated BioFuels Washington’s and LRI’s efforts at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in February.

Photo courtesy of Governor Inslee's Flickr page.
Working with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Ecology provided engineering assistance to the project by reviewing plans to ensure they met state laws and would result in a quality facility. We also participated in Pierce County’s study to assess whether it would be more economically effective to remove food waste for composting or to leave it in and capture the gas produced for energy.


  • Converting landfill gas to energy reduces greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting the need to burn fossil fuels to produce the same amount of power.
  • Increasing the available electric power supply, instead of burning off energy in landfill flares, uses a resource that was previously wasted.
  • Landfill-gas-to-energy represents another way to put organic waste in Washington to good use, along with composting and anaerobic digesters.

How landfill-gas-to-energy works

Many landfills use flares to burn off gas created by bacteria during anaerobic decomposition of food and other organic wastes. Landfill gas is around half methane and half carbon dioxide, and it must be used or burned off to control explosive hazards.

Instead of burning off gas, the first phase of the BioFuels Washington facility converts around 1,600 standard cubic feet per minute of landfill gas to electricity. This phase uses about 50 percent of the gas currently generated at the 304th Street Landfill by preparing it to fuel three on-site engine/generator sets for a total of 4.5 megawatts of power production, or enough to power 3,000 average homes per year. The electricity is sold to Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and fed into PSE’s distribution system. LRI continues to flare the balance of the gas generated in the landfill.

Future plans

The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the beginning of the first of three planned phases in this project. Converting landfill gas to electricity is Phase 1A, and 1B will add the ability to convert landfill gas to compressed natural gas. Phases 2 and 3 will increase capacity to produce more electricity and compressed natural gas.

If all phases are completed, BioFuels Washington expects to produce up to 15.0 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 10,000 homes per year! Alternately, they could provide compressed natural gas to power more than 1,000 vehicles driving 25,000 miles per year.

For more information on reducing waste in Washington, please visit Ecology’s website or contact Erika Holmes at 360-407-6149. More photos of the ribbon-cutting ceremony are available on Governor Inslee's Flickr page.

If you have questions about this project, you can contact Frank Mazanec with BioFuels Energy LLC at (760) 944-4572 or Jody Snyder with Waste Connections at (253) 927-6810.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bottleworks shows manufacturing good for economy and the environment

by Ken Zarker, pollution prevention specialist, Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program

Tim Andis, president and CEO of Liberty Bottleworks, shows his company’s award to his local congressman, Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington’s 4th District.
Liberty Bottleworks of Union Gap, Washington, took top honors at the 2013 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Sept. 19 (see MVP2 press release).

I was invited to help present the national award for excellence in sustainable manufacturing and pollution prevention to Tim Andis, Liberty’s president and CEO.

The process started earlier this year, when I reviewed the winners of the Association of Washington Business (AWB) Environmental Excellence Award. I selected companies from these winners to nominate to the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable’s annual awards program. I was impressed with several of AWB’s winners, and I submitted applications for Liberty Bottleworks, Watson Furniture Group, and Earth Friendly Products.

Liberty started with the idea to create a zero-waste manufacturing facility with a connection to the local economy in Yakima County. A short video shows how Liberty produces reusable water bottles from 100 percent recycled aluminum. They got their start when retailers in the U.S. started looking for domestically produced metal water bottles in an effort to source products locally. As a result, the first delivery of water bottles was shipped to REI, Inc., on December 31, 2010.

Liberty Bottleworks is committed to sustainable and “green” manufacturing practices. Their facility uses highly efficient motors and water-based inks (cured with ultraviolet light). Liberty’s unique powder coat is cured using infrared thermal technology that increases efficiency and saves energy. Water used in the manufacturing process is cleaned and reused four times and finally filtered before it leaves the building. This efficient use of water avoids pollution of local water resources. Liberty bottles are made of recycled aluminum, contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are 100 percent recyclable.

Liberty has delivered more than a half million bottles to retailers since 2010. This translates into more than 62,000 pounds of aluminum recycled. In addition, using an aluminum bottle provides customers an alternative to plastic bottles that may end up going to a landfill.

Each year, Liberty gives school tours to highlight sustainable manufacturing processes. Also, they work closely with Reverb, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable and environmental practices. Reverb reached more than 13.5 million music fans, “greened” over 2,700 events, and involved more than 2,900 organizations. Because of this shared environmental commitment, Reverb routinely uses Liberty as their preferred water bottle supplier to convey the message of sustainability.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Doing well by doing right – Pollution Prevention Planning

By K Seiler, Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction manager

This is Pollution Prevention Week (Sept. 17-23), designated at both the national and Washington State level. For more than two decades, government and business have worked together to build the concepts of pollution prevention into our daily lives and consciousness. So we are frequently asked, “Is the job done? Has 20 years been enough?”

I answered earlier this week, “No, we aren’t done.” I have the same answer today, but for a different reason. Any facility – government, commercial, or institutional – that creates more than 2,640 pounds of dangerous waste annually has to develop and put into practice pollution prevention plans.

In 20 years, more than 2,250 facilities in Washington have met this requirement. That’s a lot of waste to manage, track, and make sure it is properly disposed. But during that time, approximately 600 facilities have followed their plans to reduce their waste so well they no longer have to complete a plan! And the total amount of dangerous waste from another 600 planning facilities is half of what it was ten years ago.

On the one hand, reducing their creation of dangerous waste means they have less paperwork and reporting to do. It also means they are lowering their costs. Reducing the amount, toxicity, or both, of their wastes and reducing their use of resources saves money.

That often means they also reduce the amount of regulation they must follow – such as air permits, spill or solid waste regulations, or water discharge permits or modifications. This saves money too. Reducing the amount of toxics used and the wastes generated and released to the environment is also the smartest way to reduce risk and liability for individuals and businesses. All of which is especially critical in these tougher economic times.

Again, pollution prevention is the smartest, cheapest, and safest way to tackle toxic chemical issues. For more information, contact your regional Ecology office at:
  • Bellevue 425-649-7000
  • Lacey 360-407-6300
  • Spokane 509-329-3400
  • Yakima 509-575-2490
Or see:

Business Pollution Prevention resources

Pollution Prevention for Small Businesses

Pollution Prevention Successes

Pollution Prevention resources by Topic (NW Pollution Prevention Resource Center)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Preventing pollution pays big dividends; lets keep at it!

By K Seiler, Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction manager

I’m excited to announce this week is National Pollution Prevention Week and an opportunity to recognize Washington State success stories achieved by industry! I’m energized by these results, and the savings of more than $45 million reported by a subset of Washington businesses through our state Pollution Prevention Program since 2005.

Since we havebeen working on pollution prevention for more than 20 years, this week is also an opportunity to answer the question, are we done yet? The answer is no, we aren’t done.

As we look to the future, one of the biggest remaining challenges is reducing toxic threats to our environment and public health. I’m excited about our state’s forward-looking work such as developing alternative chemical assessment guidance and a green chemistry roadmap. This work is aimed at getting to safer chemical substitutes for use in product design, manufacturing, sale and disposal. It’s a win-win for the economy and the environment.

Ecology assists business to reduce toxic wastes

Furthermore, Washington’s Waste Reduction Act tasked Ecology to work with businesses and help them reduce the wastes they generate. We do this two ways. We provide technical assistance to all businesses. And we specifically help larger businesses create and carry out Pollution Prevention Plans. These plans focus on opportunities to reduce toxic chemical use.These businesses have reduced the amount of dangerous waste they produce yearly by 100 million pounds since 2000.

But businesses in our state still generate more than one hundred million pounds of dangerous waste yearly. That’s a lot of waste. But it doesn’t represent all the toxic waste generated in Washington. It doesn’t represent the amount of toxics that are discharged legally to our waterways from businesses.

And it doesn’t represent the amount of toxics that we as individuals purchase in products that make their way into the environment. We are all affected by toxic wastes. Reducing the amount of toxics used and wastes generated or released to the environment is the smartest, cheapest way to reduce risk to people and businesses.

Opportunities for toxics reduction ongoing

Businesses that have worked on reducing their wastes continue to benefit from opportunities. Over time, business operations change, personnel changes and technology changes. New eyes see new opportunities for reductions. Even those facilities that have worked for many years to reduce their wastes find ways to reduce waste even more.

Ecology can cite many examples of businesses that have reduced the toxics, wastes and resources they use. For example, Accra-Fab, Inc., in Liberty Lake, Washington, had been working on reducing their wastes for at least 17 years. However, as a result of taking part in a Lean and Green Project, the company reduced their bottom line more by saving wastewater treatment costs and reducing their use of chemicals. A video highlighting Accra-Fab’s success will earn a national award in Washington D.C. during Pollution Prevention Week.

Every day businesses use toxic chemicals when there are safer alternatives available. Every day we choose to buy products that contain toxic chemicals. Ecology has been working on developing tools to help businesses and the public make better choices. If you are interested in information on how to reduce toxics, the following resources are available:
  • Assessing chemical alternatives
  • Pollution prevention successes
  • Business pollution prevention resources
  • Information for households and communities

  • Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Conversations on Washington's Future: Do we need state environmental regulations?

    By Ted Sturdevant, Ecology Director

    This week, my Conversations on Washington's Future message describes how environmental standards support jobs and economic vitality — and what is at stake should those protections be weakened or eliminated.

    Sometimes we need to step back and remind ourselves of the basics — how clean water, clean air and clean soil benefit our lives and our state as a whole.

    The quality of our air, water and soil was made better by many people, working over several decades, to reduce, prevent and eliminate pollution. The environment they worked to protect has provided an economic benefit to our state as well — natural resources support nearly one-third of our state's economy through agriculture, tourism and recreation, forestry and waterborne trade.

    Literally and figuratively, our state would be poorer without environmental protections. A growing number of people are recognizing this. They are working toward solutions that bring all interests to the table, solutions that support the environment and the economy and communities.

    When we use that approach, the entire state wins.

    See more Conversations on Washington's Future.

    Follow these messages on Facebook and Twitter

    For more information:
    Overview of State Environmental Laws:

    Rulemaking and Economics:

    Protecting Washington’s Quality of Life:

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Conversations on Washington's future quality of life

    By Ted Sturdevant, Ecology Director

    Today, I am launching a new Web page, "Conversations on Washington's Future". I am hoping it will help stimulate a statewide conversation about what quality of life means to the people of Washington in the 21st century.

    Most of us would agree that quality of life includes an economy in which we can all prosper, strong communities and a healthy environment. The question — and it is a challenging one — is how best to achieve and protect that quality of life.

    About every week, I will share my thoughts on specific topics that affect us all, and how solving some of our thorniest issues may require some new thinking. It certainly requires us to honor differing viewpoints and realize how actions in all of these areas — the environment, the economy and communities — are intertwined.

    More and more, I have seen solutions that work well for all parties, and I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for our state.

    To learn more: Conversations on Washington's Future

    Follow these messages on: Facebook and Twitter.

    More info: Washington’s Environment Works

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Speak for the Trees, for the Trees Have No Tongues!

    By Brook Beeler, Environmental Educator, Office of Communication and Education

    Brook Beeler explaining how to use this habitat map to Kindergarten students.
    Happy Earth Week!

    This past week I spent an entire day with Kindergarten students studying healthy habitats, each eager to protect our planet. While preparing to relay the four basic components that make up wildlife habitat (food, water, shelter, and space) I reflected on Ecology’s mission.

    The Mission of the Department of Ecology is to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment, and promote the wise management of our air, land and water for the benefit of current and future generations. In order to fulfill our mission and move Washington forward in a global economy, the Dept. of Ecology has three goals:

    • Prevent pollution

    • Clean up pollution

    • Support sustainable communities and natural resources

    You’re right, that is a bit much for a 6 year old to digest. So the basic message that I shared, is that wildlife and people need access to clean food, water, shelter, and space. Here at Ecology it is our job, along with other natural resource agencies, to ensure that Washington’s environment is clean, healthy, and managed wisely.

    To explain this concept to these kids I used an activity from a nationally known curriculum, Project WILD. Then, read a well known story, Dr. Seuss’s 1971 children’s classic The Lorax.

    In this classic tale, a daft businessman, the Once-ler, recounts his story to a young man about his encounter with the original spokesman for the environment, the Lorax. At first glance it seems to pit big business against the environment, but as always there is a moral to this story with a special twist.


    The Lorax appears, with a “ga-Zump” in this story to “speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” He shows the Once-ler how poor practices can affect habitats and the environment.

    The Department of Ecology popped onto the scene in 1970, the same year as the first Earth Day as a matter of fact. We have come a long way in the last 41 years, speaking for the environment. However, we know that a clean environment and healthy economy go hand in hand. We know that when we protect our environment, we also protect human health, communities and jobs in our state. More than one-third of Washington’s economy is directly supported by natural resources activities.

    If you are interested in learning more about how we protect Washington’s environment you can keep up with us through our website. We have news, publications, videos and more.


    Near the end of our story the Lorax gives up on the Once-ler. He takes leave to find a new place that his wildlife friends can inhabit. He searched for a place where there is enough clean food, water, shelter and space. But he leaves a small challenge behind, “unless.” Our businessman, the Once-ler, takes this challenge to heart and passes the challenge on to the young man. He said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

    We know many of you out there who care a whole awful lot and we want to make sure you can meet the challenge of the Lorax.

    You can start today:

  • Follow @EcologyWA on Twitter!

  • Have your voice heard. See our Public Involvement Portal to find out how.

  • And those Kindergarten students, well, they learned a whole awful lot. After hunting down all the components of a healthy habitat they were ready to share. Students drew pictures of their habitats that included clean water and fresh air in hopes that the Lorax and his friends would come back.

    Six year old, Emma Beeler's, healthy deer habitat drawing
    which includes: water, food, shelter, air, and space.