The city of Tacoma has teamed up with local organizations to encourage residents to create memories - not waste - this holiday season.
During the month of December, waste volumes increase significantly as people discard gift bags, wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and packaging from the many gifts they receive. To combat the increased volumes, Tacoma worked with local organizations to provide a variety of experiences - theater tickets, cooking classes and spa treatments, for example - at discounts to give to others.
"It's a program we believe in to get the right message out to reduce holiday waste, and also, it's a way for people to save money," said Michelle Warmuth, a spokesperson for the city. "There's definitely an increase in garbage, mostly from wrapping and bows, and also packaging...People's garbage containers are a lot more full around the holidays."
Tacoma started the program in 2003 with the goal of reducing waste. It works with King, Kitsap and Thurston counties, as well as the city of Seattle, to market the effort regionally.
This year, Tacoma has partnered with 76 business partners offering 156 unique experiences. The partners include Metro Parks, the Tacoma Art Museum, Broadway Center for Performing Arts, Dolce Vita Day Spa, and Puget Sound Pizza.
Experiences vary from pet adoptions from the Humane Society and cooking classes to rock climbing or a weekend away at local bed-and-breakfasts.
New experiences this year include ballroom dancing classes from Studio 6 Ballroom, auto detailing from Best in Show, and discounts on Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club events. While all of the offers are listed online, purchases must be made directly from the participating organizations or in some cases, through Ticketmaster. The discount offers last through Dec. 31, 2008, but event dates extend well into 2009.
"The waste-free holiday isn't just about reducing waste, it's also about boosting the local economy," Warmuth said.
Last year, Tacoma's efforts led to a total of 723 experience gifts sold by the city's partners.
To browse all of the experience gift offers and discounts, visit www.wastefreeholidays.com. The website also includes tips for reducing waste year-round.