Saving the Good Stuff – “The Exchange” at Orcas Island Dump

pm64_600When you go to the “dump” on Orcas Island, you get a bonus. Along with dropping off your recyclables and trash, you can leave your re-usables and pick up what you need at The Exchange.  This thrift + building materials + appliance + home furnishings + sporting goods store has no set prices; you pay “what it’s worth to you”. Founder George Post recounts how The Exchange grew out of the scavenging of useful “stuff” that occurred all the time at the informal dump of days gone by. Episode 65.

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  1. Iselin Celestine says:

    With deep regret, I wonder: did I live in a parallel universe to those of people like George? For two decades I lived in Washington State, longing for “a” way of life that was hardly formed in my own consciousness because I had yet to encounter alternatives to the more mainstream. This show was invaluable to me. Your interchange was so much fun–put a smile on my face many times! In earnestness, it also elicited aspects of human and collective societal psychology that I found (pro)found.

    Throughout this episode, I found myself acknowledging the evolution of my own awareness and choices: from buying things in multiples and then throwing them in the trash instead of making the effort to donate them…to being reluctant to purchase almost anything being acutely conscious of the incredible glut of our mass-produced items–so many (most?) of them being unnecessary and seemingly destined for the landfills from the outset. Reminders such as these are personally painful ones, yet, needed to help us move beyond our extravagant and wasteful ways. Many of us may not yet even have a recognition of the last or be ready to acknowledge our participation in it.

    I also thought of (as George mentioned) the transporting of some of these extra bicycles to other locations–even relatively locally–where children who could not otherwise afford them would have a bicycle regardless.

    Another issue that George alludes to: that of governmental regulation. I think that the latter have become pronouncedly onerous with regard to presenting obstacles even as I realize that they provide (or often/generally seek to provide) benefit to the public as well. Still, I look forward to the possibility that agencies will not be able to enforce such policies as the oil supply and all that depends upon it continues to decline. Endeavors such as this one, which offer great benefit to human communities and to our remaining plant and animal life, will be able to grow and flourish without the undue constraint of regulation.

    George, you are exemplary in your work both with “misfit” things and the people you engage in your community. When you and Janaia speak of the meek inheriting the earth, I think its mention in connection with more conscious use and re-use of our resources will resonate with so many of us and thus inspire reflection. A heartfelt thank you.

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