It's time to move the solid waste transfer station
March 27, 2009 · 4:03 PM
We have just returned from our more-or-less monthly trip to the San Juan Island recycle and waste transfer station. We have to report that this was yet again not a pleasant experience.
When we first moved to the islands, 10 years ago, we lived for our first year on Orcas Island. There we discovered a wonderful system of handling solid waste. Central to our trips to the “dump” that year was bringing some of our belongings that we no longer needed and giving them to the crew of volunteers. They organized what one family didn’t want in such a way that others on the island could find items and take them and put them to good use.
Often when we needed something such as an old door to make a work table in the garage, we would go to the Orcas Island transfer station and come home with a very serviceable door, saving money for ourselves and reducing the volume of solid-waste disposal for the county. Friendships were created and community conversations often ensued — sort of as happens now at the Farmers Market.
At our transfer station on San Juan Island, no such community bonding or community reuse is possible. Instead, we have a small and smelly and dirty little station set among the wasteland of false hills of hidden garbage and eroding piles of dumped dirt killing the trees.
San Juan Island should move the transfer station to a larger site where a “trash to treasure” system of reuse could be created. We are sure that, as on Orcas, a cohort of able-bodied volunteers will come to the fore to manage this aspect of the transfer station and properly designed garbage and recycling sections will be much more pleasant to use and much less likely to be polluting the air and groundwater.
Val and Leslie Veirs