In 1981, a group of community activists created Orcas Island’s legendary reuse center: The Exchange. These visionaries created a system to “reduce, reuse, recycle” before the phrase existed.
Starting out as a one-room cabin on the grounds of the Orcas Transfer Station, The Exchange grew organically into a whimsical collection of sheds, tents, and handmade structures filled with useful items that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
At The Exchange, you could get a set of cross-country skis. There were bikes, lawn mowers and garden hoses. Building materials. You could outfit an entire kitchen if you didn’t mind mis-matched dishes. Barbeques and clothing. Books, records, CDs, and stereos. Nuts and bolts and nails and that random part for your washing machine you couldn’t find at the hardware store. You could also find real treasures.
Staffed by an array of local characters, most notably founder and Orcas icon George Post, The Exchange became a cultural institution. It became a community meeting place, an inspiration for artists, and occasionally a tourist attraction.
More importantly, it was a source of affordable goods for struggling families. All profits were donated to local charities. The Exchange stood in direct opposition to the throw-away consumerism of our culture.
Over the years, The Exchange redirected and redistributed thousands of tons of material into the community that would have otherwise ended up in the large and unsustainable landfills of the western United States.
In 2011, San Juan County announced they wanted to stop managing solid waste. Fearful that a big garbage corporation would take over the Orcas Transfer Station and evict The Exchange, the board of directors decided to respond to the County’s request for proposals.
In 2012, The Exchange/Orcas Recycling Services entered negotiations with San Juan County to take over management of the Orcas Island Transfer Station.
Sadly, a fire broke out in a trashcan just after closing time in February 2013. Thankfully, no one was injured, but The Exchange burned to the ground. Despite the setback, ORS/The Exchange took over the Transfer Station seven months later.
Our goal is to create a new kind of recycling, reduction, and reuse system. That began with rebuilding The Exchange, which re-opened in November 2017.
Next on our list: improving the recycling system, and figuring out a composting solution for organic waste. We will continue to post news and updates on this website. Click here to sign up for email updates.
Tim practiced healthcare law for 20 years with a leading international firm before he and his spouse “escaped from LA” and formed their own practice serving healthcare providers nation-wide from Orcas Island. He is a Fellow of the American Health Lawyers Association and the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
Tim worked with Common Sense Alliance from its inception and currently serves as a San Juan County Planning Commissioner. He joined the ORS Board to help navigate the regulatory and practical challenges of keeping the management of our waste-resource streams local and re-establishing The Exchange.
Mark and his wife moved to Orcas from Seattle where they retired from a successful cabinet-making business they had ran for over 30 years. They have been residents of Olga since July 2009.
As part of his early business plan, he developed strategies for designing and producing ‘green’ cabinetry. He worked with suppliers to purchase responsibly sourced wood materials and carried that philosophy to hardware specifications and finishing. He and his wife continued their ‘green’ philosophy into their personal lives with consistent recycling and composting. On average, they generate two cans of household garbage every six months and are committed to reducing their footprint on Orcas.
Bruce has been a long time home owner and part time resident of Orcas Island for more than 25 years. He recently moved to the island full time 3 years ago, and retired from various positions as a Finance Executive and Business Consultant. Bruce has also been a long supporter of island activities and organizations that work to maintain and improve island life. The mission of ORS/Exchange falls into that category through its goals of a reduced waste stream and an effort on recycling and reuse.
Kate Hansen joined the Orcas Recycling Services Board as Secretary in 2014. A third generation Orcas Islander, she has worked with a variety of businesses on the island and is actively involved with The Grange and Actor’s Theater. Kate loves working with individuals and organizations that help to preserve and enhance our unique island home. She is especially pleased to be part of the island way of responsibly managing our waste stream through ORS’s cultivation of recycling, reusing, repurposing, and finding innovative ways to put less and less in the land-fill.
Jim Duffield joined the board in 2016. He has been a long-time volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and served six years on the Skagit affiliate’s board, three as president. One of the founders of the Skagit HFH retail Store, he brings valuable experience to help with The Exchange. Was the first board president for Home Trust of Skagit. Prior to moving to Orcas in 2014, he worked 19 years as a project director with The Pacific Institute (Seattle); five years as a registered representative with The Equitable and Prudential; and retired as an USAF major after a 21-year career.
While born and raised in the Seattle area, Pete Moe spent several years working in journalism and marketing in New York and Boston before moving his family to Orcas Island in 2006. Once on Orcas, his interest in the environment led him to a volunteer board position at The Exchange.
In 2012, Moe became president of the Exchange Board. In 2013 he and his fellow board members led a successful campaign to take over the Orcas Island Transfer Station. In July 2013, Moe was appointed Executive Director of Orcas Recycling Services/The Exchange.
Pete is a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC), an advisory panel to the San Juan County Council. He also serves as a San Juan County Planning Commissioner. Pete lives in Eastsound with his teen-aged kids, Hazel and Henry.
Cathy has resided on Orcas full time since 1979. She and her husband, Paul, have worked and raised their family in Orcas community. Cathy’s main occupations are being a bookkeeper, entrepreneur and grandma, and she is also interested in textiles, hiking and other outdoor adventures. She joined the board of ORS to further her commitment to the community and the local environment. She fully supports the target of being a “Zero Waste” community.
As a member of The Exchange Board, Toby brings a passion for recycling and an aversion to landfills and trash. His time in financial services led him to often support market-based and investor-led solutions to environmental change. He has years of environmental advocacy experience, including prior careers with the professional staffs of national wildlife and land conservation organizations. He currently serves as Chairman of the Mountain Lion Foundation, Sacramento, CA. He and his wife, Sarah, love their island home in the Rosario area of Orcas and enjoy exploring and boating the Pacific Northwest waters.
Marta’s background in both non-profit management and teaching fuels her excitement to help with The Exchange CEO (Communication, Education and Outreach) committee, as well as upcoming expansions and changes at ORS. Since arriving on Orcas in the fall of 2007, Marta has been active as a teacher at Salmonberry School and as Director of the Prevention Coalition. She has served as a Board member of the United Way of San Juan County, the Friends of the San Juans and Orcas Food Masters. Marta was a participant, Board member, and Course Leader for Leadership San Juan Islands, and most recently a founding Board member of the Orcas Food Co-op.
As owner and chief egg collector for the Rainbow Chicken Ranch, Marta is actively involved with both the Organic and Sustainable Local Food movements.
Asifa hails from Chicago, Montana, and Seattle and has a diverse background in volunteerism and the creative arts. She was an instrumental part of founding two dance troupes and as a student at Montana State University she was part of the Student Union Activities Board responsible for coordinating workshops, performances, fundraisers, and more, for the university community.
On Orcas Island, Asifa has volunteered at the Imagine Music & Arts Festival, the Orcas Center (as both as a performer and a lead costume designer), and has been active at The Exchange since 2010. She currently works with island-based business, Lotioncrafter and is passionate about educating others about trash and recycling reduction.