Parks officials ask visitors to leave no trace with new ‘Pack it in, pack it out’ campaign

May 29, 2014

County officials and partners gathered last week at Willis Tucker Community Park to launch the “Pack it in, Pack it out” campaign, a new initiative that asks park visitors to take their garbage and recyclables home when they leave the park.

The effort will allow more parks resources to be used in other areas, while helping keep county parks clean.

The new initiative is also an important step in increasing the amount of recyclable materials diverted from the landfill – a key component of the Snohomish County’s Sustainable Operations Plan.

“The phrase “Pack It In, Pack It Out” is not new to visitors of state and national parks,” County Executive John Lovick said.

“It means that visitors are expected to ‘leave no trace’ by taking the items they bring into the parks, out of the parks, and then disposing or recycling those items responsibly at home.

“With the help of county residents and visitors, the county parks department can continue to maintain our beautiful parks and provide an even better experience for park visitors.”

The effort to cut down on garbage at the parks came after an analysis of the significant costs to collect, manage, and transport waste generated by more than 4.7 million annual county park users.

“The county had been managing over 500 garbage cans at county parks, taking time and resources away from programs, other maintenance tasks, and other community amenities,” Snohomish County Parks Director Tom Teigen said.

“We’ve piloted Pack It In, Pack It Out with great results, and estimate that with the public’s help, we’ll save park staff over 3,500 hours and be able to reallocate over $200,000 a year in time and other resources toward other park efforts.”

Snohomish County officials pointed out that the effort is about more than just saving resources, it also has environmental benefits.

“Managing waste at home also allows for more successful separation of waste and recyclables than is feasible at most parks locations,” said Lisa Dulude, Snohomish County’s sustainability manager.

“By working with parks visitors to pack out what they bring in to the park, we anticipate increased recycling rates beyond what would otherwise occur, and a reduction in the amount of recyclables that end up in landfills.”

By spring 2015 it’s expected that the parks department’s portfolio of staff-serviced garbage cans will shrink from 500 to about 75, and that the amount of waste diverted from landfills will increase by up to 33 percent.

The county will continue to service dumpsters for garbage and recyclables at county parks, but intends to minimize the use of the dumpsters as awareness of the “Pack it in, Pack it out” effort grows.

For more information on the Pack It In, Pack It Out campaign, visit or contact Russ Bosanko at 425-388-6602 or


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