Our Methow valley communities are well educated in sustainability. The “re-“ list is getting longer: rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, refurbish, repair, repurpose.
Methow Recycles, formed by volunteers in 2002, has grown into a waste prevention program offering comprehensive recycling as part of the solution to the “dump,” which now is better, and more appropriately, identified as “landfill.” Volunteers are still an integral part of the operation, which has seen over 12,000 tons (and counting) of recyclables diverted from the landfill and wherever else it might land.
A nonprofit organization, Methow Recycles relies on the belief that “the human race cannot recycle our way out of the mess we’ve created on the planet,” but the relationship with waste can be fundamentally changed by proactive believers one step at a time. Innovative new programs to propel the change in thinking have been instituted over the years such as Repair Cafes, Materials Reuse (Take-It-or-Leave-It Concierge), and a Tool Library where you can rent tools rather than buying or borrowing.
Here in Mazama, the Mazama Store is a frontrunner in reducing the amount of refuse that ends up in the landfill (or in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the giant garbage vortex over twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean). Bamboo straws, glass jars for a nominal purchase price for your beverage, cork recycling, and composting are just a few of the ways the LeDucs have instituted to reduce waste. Consumers may be slow learners, but are teachable. Missy LeDuc serves on the Methow Recycles Board and praises the organization for being “stewards and innovators of waste reduction.”
In another arena of waste reduction, let’s talk recycled clothing.
The first time that I became aware that there was way too much clothing in the world, was when a TJ Maxx moved into town in the early 1990s: racks and racks of clothes. How can a person keep up with the onslaught of the next new article of clothing needed to be fashionable?
I grew up wearing secondhand clothes. My mom was the original rummage sale, thrift store and hand-me-downs queen. One high school year, I begged and begged to have a brand new dress to wear to the prom instead of digging through the crowded racks of my mom’s favorite junk/thrift store in Bozeman to find something that “would do.”
I saved up my own carhop earnings to buy the dress of my dreams for $28. I felt like the belle of the ball until I caught sight of at least two or three other ingénues wearing the same dress in different colors. I thought maybe my mom’s unique finds at Carmella’s weren’t so bad after all — especially with a price tag of maybe $5, most likely less. If it wasn’t “dime day” at the Senior Citizens Thrift Store, she would wait until it was, rather than pay an exorbitant dollar or more.
When The Red Hen left Winthrop, where could a PCT hiker go to buy some “new” duds — not to mention the rest of us thrifty shoppers? About a year and a half ago, a group of innovative ladies led by Hillary Ketcham Roseland opened The Thrifty Fox in Twisp. Hillary and friends had accumulated enough “good finds” to open their doors and have continued to receive donations and trades with other thrift stores on the West Side.
Kira Wood-Cramer, who works part-time at The Thrifty Fox, is usually dressed in clothing she has gleaned from the store’s inventory. Cute as a bug’s ear, she is styling all the time in the Methow way. Of course, she is the same size as the manikin, but, still, there’s something for everyone tucked in the racks.
Look for the manikin skiers (maybe they’ll be in bikinis soon!) on the awning and visit the Fox for your recycled clothing and make a difference in the amount of textile waste that goes to the landfill. Look for their new inventory on Instagram @thriftyfoxtwisp.
Another gem in Twisp is the Senior Center Thrift Shop, affectionately called The Rummage Room. How can you not love the finds that the checkout lady may say, “How about a quarter?” Not to mention a full grocery bag for $3.50. Can’t beat that.
Hopefully, little by little, we all will continue to make a difference in the over consumption style that the last generation has spawned. Shop thrifty. Reduce, reuse, recycle … you get the point.