Cedar Grove completes the compost circle of life

March 4, 2014

Local composting takes global technology.

Cedar Grove Composting has grown a lot in its 25-year history of turning organic material into plant fertilizer. The May Valley facility recently won an Issaquah Chamber of Commerce Innovation in Issaquah award, due to its continuing community efforts. Such progress did not happen all at once.

“In 1989,” Cedar Grove’s Chief Environmental and Sustainability Officer Jerry Bartlett said, “nobody knew what compost was and nobody knew what to do with it.”

The company had received a contract with the city of Seattle to convert yard waste into fertilizer. It turned into a first for both entities.

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Issaquah innovators honored at chamber luncheon

February 18, 2014

Nonprofit lending, flip-flops and composting are leading the way in innovation, according to the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

Local businesses received recognition Feb. 13 in the fourth annual Innovation in Issaquah Awards. From 19 nominees, collected through area suggestions, the chamber chose three winners who best represented business innovation in Issaquah.

By Greg Farrar Matt ‘Griff’ Griffin (left), CEO of Combat Flip Flops; Karen Dawson, community relations director for Cedar Grove Composting; and Chris Walcott, president of Semble, hold their Innovation in Issaquah award plaques Feb. 13 at the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

By Greg Farrar
Matt ‘Griff’ Griffin (left), CEO of Combat Flip Flops; Karen Dawson, community relations director for Cedar Grove Composting; and Chris Walcott, president of Semble, hold their Innovation in Issaquah award plaques Feb. 13 at the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

In a large luncheon at the Issaquah Holiday Inn, where more than 100 people gathered to celebrate the nominees, Cedar Grove Composting, Semble and Combat Flip Flops received the top awards.

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Residents sue Cedar Grove Composting over odors

February 5, 2013

In Mirrormont, longtime homeowner Cathe Avila can no longer keep windows open at home, or walk black Labrador retriever Django in the neighborhood.

The problem, she said, is the odor from the Cedar Grove Composting facility in unincorporated King County between Issaquah and Maple Valley, about seven miles southwest of downtown Issaquah.

Avila said the odor is traceable to 2004, once Cedar Grove starting accepting food scraps for composting.

“Then, after that, the smell just started getting worse and worse,” she said.

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City Council bans plastic bags at Issaquah retailers

June 12, 2012

Ordinance goes into effect for most businesses in March 2013

Issaquah joined a string of cities along Puget Sound to outlaw plastic bags at local retailers June 4, after months of sometimes-acrimonious debate about adverse impacts to the marine environment and the regional economy.

In the end, concerns about the environment led the City Council to decide 5-2 to eliminate most retail uses for plastic bags. The legislation — and a 5-cent fee on paper bags — go into effect in March 2013 for most businesses.

The council listened to advocates from environmental groups and the plastics industry in public meetings throughout April and May, and then again before the decision.

The plastic bag ban sponsor, Issaquah Highlands entrepreneur and City Councilman Mark Mullet, presented the legislation as a way to reduce the estimated 10 million plastic bags the city sends to the King County landfill each year.

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Issaquah Farmers Market returns for 22nd season April 21

April 17, 2012

The Issaquah Farmers Market at Pickering Farm attracts large crowds of visitors and patrons on a warm August Saturday in 2011. By Greg Farrar

The historic Pickering Farm emerges from a seasonal slumber soon as the popular Issaquah Farmers Market returns.

The market debuts for the season April 21. The return is a sign springtime is inching closer to summertime.

The farmers market runs every Saturday, rain or shine, from April to October. The market features seasonal produce, crafts, food vendors, and demonstrations or entertainment each week.

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Briarwood Elementary is latest campus to be honored as a Green School

February 7, 2012

Efforts that started in September 2010 just paid off for students and staff at Briarwood Elementary School.

In December, the school was certified a Level One King County Green School. Along with only three other schools in King County, Briarwood’s efforts were formally recognized Jan. 31.

“Each of these four schools can be proud of how they have involved their students and staff in learning about conservation and improving conservation practices,” said Dale Alekel, King County Green Schools Program manager.

Level One programs focus on waste reduction and recycling. There are several criteria schools must meet. The schools must reach a recycling rate of at least 40 percent; establish at least one paper reduction practice; one lunch waste reduction practice; and, one practice involving durable products. Alekel said many participating schools sliced garbage disposal costs by reducing waste and recycling.

Briarwood staff and students took several steps in order to reach Level One status, said Jennifer Mitchell, a program assistant at the school. First, the school created a Green Team of students, third-graders who helped train other students how to sort lunch waste into recyclable materials, compostable materials and garbage. There are now about 35 third-graders trained to help younger students sort their lunch leftovers.

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City, King County offer options for recycling Christmas trees

December 26, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 26, 2011

Christmas is history, and Issaquah residents ready to pitch Christmas trees have a few options.

Customers tired of evergreens dropping brown needles can set out trees for yard waste collection on regular collection days. The trees must be cut to 4 feet or less. Haulers do not collect trees decked in flocking or decorations.

For residents interested in recycling, or tree-cycling, the King County Solid Waste Division offers a list of recycling locations throughout King County.

Or drop off trees at Cedar Grove Composting near Issaquah and other recycling sites.

Or, Issaquah Highlands and Sammamish residents can wait until Jan. 7, as a local Boy Scout troop collects Christmas trees for a fundraiser.

Food scraps return as compost to fuel community garden

November 29, 2011

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson (left) adds compost to a garden plot Nov. 16. Contributed

Turning trash to treasure — or, at least, rich compost — could lengthen the landfill’s lifespan.

King County Solid Waste Division officials said the average King County family tosses 45 pounds of food scraps each month. The agency estimates food recycling could divert the amount of garbage headed to the county-run Cedar Hills Regional Landfill by more than 20 percent.

So, the Solid Waste Division enlisted 10 families in the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah to collect food scraps throughout August — and demonstrate the ease of food-scrap recycling. Overall, neighbors amassed more than 400 pounds from refuse otherwise headed for the landfill — chicken bones, pineapple tops, paper towels soaked in bacon grease and much more.

The garbage pile festering beneath the hot August sun in Donna Misner’s driveway re-emerged Nov. 16 as rich compost.

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson joined the residents in late August to bid the garbage heap farewell on a journey to Cedar Grove Composting.

Then, 85 days and a decomposition cycle later, Misner and other Sycamore neighbors gathered on a rain-soaked morning to see the result.

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Neighborhood turns trash, food scraps, to treasure, rich compost

August 30, 2011

Residents donate 400 pounds of garbage for composting effort

The half-gnawed corncobs, shorn pineapple tops, slimy banana peels and grease-stained pizza boxes simmered in the midday sun — a concoction assembled from the kitchen castoffs of 10 Issaquah families.

Residents of the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah dump a last load of food scraps into more than 400 pounds of collected food waste. Contributed

The festering pile in Donna Misner’s driveway Aug. 24 included more than 400 pounds collected from residents in the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah.

King County joined the residents to increase food-scrap recycling for a month to accomplish dual goals: demonstrate the ease of food-scrap recycling and turn the garbage into rich compost for a community garden.

“I don’t consider this waste. People always joke, ‘Oh, it’s garbage and it’s stinky. This is a material. This is a resource — that’s what this is right here,” King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson said during a midday event in the Sycamore driveway. “It may smell a little bit on a hot day, but when you do it at home, it’s not going to smell. When Cedar Grove makes it into compost, the final product is a product that’s going to help your garden grow. It’s a resource.”

Cedar Grove Composting plans to transform the refuse into compost and then donate the results to the Issaquah Flatland Community Garden near the AtWork! Recycling Center by late fall. Gardeners send 25 percent of the organic bounty to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.

“The garden is a nice focal point for the Issaquah community,” AtWork! Community Development Manager Dennis Wadja said. “Neighbors walk to the garden, children are exposed to growing food, the food bank receives nutritious organic food and space is available for the disabled population. We see this recycling project as an opportunity to connect deeper to the wider community.”

(Cedar Grove Composting is near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in unincorporated King County between Issaquah and Maple Valley.)

Officials and teams from the King County Solid Waste Division and Cedar Grove Composting — including a county staffer dressed as a banana — gathered at the Misner home along Issaquah Creek as Tiger Mountain basked in the sunshine beyond.

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Residents donate 400 pounds of scraps for trash-to-treasure composting effort

August 24, 2011

King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson mucks around in a pile of more than 400 pounds food scraps from Issaquah residents Wednesday. By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 12:50 p.m. Aug. 24, 2011

The half-gnawed corncobs, shorn pineapple tops, slippery banana peels and grease-stained pizza boxes simmered in the midday sun — a concoction assembled from the kitchen castoffs of 10 Issaquah families.

The festering pile in Donna Misner’s driveway included more than 400 pounds collected from residents in the Sycamore neighborhood near downtown Issaquah. King County joined the residents to increase food-scrap recycling for a month for a month to accomplish dual goals: demonstrate how easy such recycling can be and turn the garbage into rich compost for a community garden.

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