In 1982 a small group of women started the Bellingham Community Recycling business. This grew into Sanitary Services waste collection – now an independent recycling and waste management business – and the Re-Store, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable communities through education, advocacy, recycling, and the conservation of natural resources. The RE-Store in Bellingham collects donations of used building materials and then sells them at well below the cost of new items. Below, NWCCI ‘s Shasta Pettijohn writes their trip to RE-Store and the students’ initial reactions to the idea.
On March 4th, a group of NWCCI students studying at Whatcom Community College visited the RE-Store and had a tour with employee Ben Lewis. Lewis explained that the RE-Store’s business model is aimed at serving the community and achieving their mission of sustainability. They invest in continuing to develop programs like the Green Demolition Deconstruction Program, the Green Jobs Training Program, educational / inspirational events like hands-on DIY workshops , and the Recycled Art Program an annual DIY art contest using leftover and unwanted building supplies.
Lewis told the students, “Everything that doesn’t get bought gets turned into something else”.
In addition to their used building recycling program, the Re-Store works to provide ongoing research and support for a healthy ecosystem in the region. Eleanor Hines, a scientist with a B.S. in Environmental Toxicology and M.S. in Environmental Toxicology Risk Assessment works with the Re-Store to provide clean water for the Salish Sea and its sea creatures.
Theresia “Rina” Windayani, from Indonesia, was impressed: “You are supporting sustainability services! It’s cool!” Later Rina commented, “I think people in the US like to give things away; to donate”.
Latif Abdul, Pakistan, observed: “Everything is surprising.” Latif was inspired by the DIY art and bought a wooden cupboard cover to use in an art project before he left the store.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.