In the past many years, residents of Orcas Island have used their home-grown “Exchange” as a place to recycle useable items that might have gone into a landfill without the Exchange. About two years ago, the Exchange burned completely, and since then islanders have either had to haul recyclables off island, throw them into the landfill bins, or hang onto them. None of those options was very satisfying.
A year ago, one of our long-time volunteer families moved to Orcas Island, and learned of the Exchange situation. Skagit HFH offered to bring our Store truck to Orcas on a test basis to pick up donations. This began last spring and the response was extremely positive. Islanders turned out to such an extent that the truck was full to the brim on more than one trip. They really appreciated the opportunity to put their recyclable items to good use.
The effort to reopen the Exchange on Orcas Island has continued, and it looks like it will finally be back in operation in late 2015. Until then, the SHFH Store will consider coming back to Orcas to serve islanders and recycle donations. There is no regular schedule, but we try to meet the needs of the islanders when it fits well with the operation of our Store. During these visits, we have found out that Orcas residents are generally unaware that Habitat for Humanity has a retail Store in Skagit County (they seem to be well aware of the Store in Whatcom County.) The presence of our Skagit Store truck helps create awareness of our own Store–a more convenient location when coming off the ferry.