In 1984, 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 beginning with the construction of a new and improved Exchange.
Stay tuned. We need your ideas, we need your support as a volunteer, and we need your donations. Click here to donate online. We are new to this, but we are committed. Determined. If you are too, we want to hear from you. Post your ideas here and on our Facebook page.
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.
Larry Coddington is a semi-retired construction professional with 45 years of experience. He has worked on projects ranging from dog houses to domed stadiums. After retiring from the Seattle area, Larry and his wife Ellen moved to Waldron Island, where they lived for several years. They now live on Orcas Island in Deer Harbor. An active volunteer in the community, Larry managed projects for the “Homes For Islanders” project on Orcas.
Susan Malins moved to Orcas Island in 1988 to develop Orcas Theater and Community Center and was blessed with a lifetime home. Her experience in arts and business management, cable television programming, film production, coaching, volunteer management and ESL education inform her community work on Orcas.
Susan owns Score! Nifty Thrifty in Eastsound, where “Community Sharing” is the motto and clean, working household goods are available to islanders at affordable prices. She has served on the ORS/Exchange Board for the past four years and is an Oddess Rebekah.
My name is Mayer Mayer. My wife and I have been residents of Olga since July 2009. We moved here from Seattle, where we had a cabinet-making business for 30 years. We have just recently retired.
As an early part of my business plan, I developed strategies in making ‘green’ cabinetry. I worked with suppliers in purchasing responsibly sourced wood materials and carried that philosophy to hardware specifications and finishing. We continue that ‘green’ philosophy into our personal lives with consistent recycling and composting. On average, we generate two cans of household garbage every six months. We are committed to reducing our footprint on our island.
For many years I managed the art facilities for a community college while teaching ceramics and multimedia sculpture in other schools and making art and furniture in my own studio. I love to incorporate found art objects into the mix or repair and restore old furniture, boats, motorcycles. Naturally, upon visiting The Exchange it was love at first sight.
In grad school getting a Masters in Nutrition Research at Bastyr University I focused on the connections between man-made pollutants in food and their effects on our bodies through hormone function. When I moved to Orcas I started an organization called Sustainable Orcas Island and hosted many films and discussions on how to take best practices into our lives to consciously choose to thrive vs. fail to thrive. I started a similar organization at Bastyr that was very successful as well.
When I was invited to the Exchange/ORS board I saw it as an opportunity to bring more organizational development and professionalism to the team, to grow our capacity, diversity, and persue a Zero-Waste goal with passion and commitment. We have come a long way. It is an honor to serve.
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. He was also named to the Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC), an advisory panel to the San Juan County Council.
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.
Previous to taking his position at ORS, Moe was Executive Director of The Funhouse Commons, a non-profit youth and community center on Orcas Island.
Pete lives in Eastsound with his teen-aged kids, Hazel and Henry.
Paula Treneer is a recent addition to the Island community, having relocated to Orcas in 2013 following a career in finance which took her and her family to NYC, Paris, and the Middle East (Abu Dhabi). Her appreciation for the natural beauty and specialness of Orcas Island dates back to the 90’s, stemming from annual visits to summer camp on parents’ weekend. She is a lifelong avid recycler and devoted to the goal of optimal carbon footprint while promoting reuse and repurposing activities at home.
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.