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September 17, 2018: RE Sources, Mt. Baker Sierra Club and North Cascades Institute to host overnight Baker Lake trash cleanup

posted by Simon Bakke

Volunteers will canoe along the shoreline of Baker Lake, removing trash after a summer of activity on the lake to ensure it remains clean for summers to come.

MOUNT BAKER, WA — RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Mt. Baker Sierra Club and North Cascades Institute will lead a team of volunteers to paddle the shores of Baker Lake, picking up trash to keep the recreational area in good condition and to prevent garbage -- especially plastics -- from harming wildlife and degrading water quality in the lake, nearby rivers and, ultimately, the Salish Sea.

The cleanup will take place on Saturday, September 29, but volunteers have the option to camp at Baker Lake for free the nights of September 28 and 29. Yeager’s Sporting Goods will provide several boats. Volunteers will also get to paddle alongside a kayak made entirely from plastic debris and learn about the global issue of plastic pollution.

"Plastic is forever. We are only beginning to grasp the extent of the issue now that we’ve discovered microplastics in our oysters and microbrew beers,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist at RE Sources. “We’re doing our part to clean up cherished outdoor places while stopping plastic from causing further harm. Plastics truly are a global problem, impacting all habitats everywhere."

While cleanup efforts often focus on beaches and urban parks, plastic contamination also affects environments in further away wilderness and recreation areas.

It can take 1,000 years for plastic to degrade, and the effects of plastic in freshwater habitat is not well understood.

For more information, visit the event webpage at www.facebook.com/events/484650352000875/, or email Eleanor Hines at eleanorh@re-sources.org or Krista Rome at kristar@re-sources.org.

Event information
What: Cleanup and paddle at Baker Lake
When: Saturday, September 29, at 9am. Free camping Friday and Saturday night is optional. More details will be provided after RSVP. 
Where:   Baker Lake
More info: www.facebook.com/events/484650352000875/ 
RSVP: docs.google.com/forms/d/14KiMydbfftGgDKOO3OXfgOnsvTaje6aX_isRNNHFJww/ 

Media Contact: Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist, eleanorh@re-sources.org, (215) 287-0043

August 24, 2018: Community asked to donate clothes during September for Birchwood families in need

posted by Simon Bakke

RE Sources and Birchwood Elementary host clothing drive throughout Bellingham to recycle clothing and help Birchwood families with back-to-school needs

BELLINGHAM, WA — Birchwood Elementary in partnership with RE Sources’ Sustainable Schools program is hosting a clothing drive for Birchwood families in need. The clothing drive will begin Tuesday, August 28th, with collection barrels located at RE Sources, Ragfinery, and Birchwood Elementary, and end Friday, September 14th. 

The clean, gently used items will be distributed to students and families in need during a “Back-to-School Clothing Market” held on Tuesday, September 18th at the Birchwood Elementary School from 4:15 - 6:15 PM. 

“Purchasing clothing, new or used, at the start of a school year is expensive,” says Carolyn Feffer, the school counselor at Birchwood Elementary. ”Together, we can alleviate the financial strain on local families, divert apparel from landfills, and conserve resources by reducing the need to buy new clothes,” 

“RE Sources’ Sustainable Schools program is providing ways for students, teachers, and families to reduce their waste, conserve water, and make smarter energy choices,” according to  Sasha Savoian, Education Specialist for RE Sources. “The textile and clothing industry contributes 10% of global carbon emissions, and is the second largest industrial polluter in the world. Small actions like recycling instead of trashing outgrown clothing can make a big difference to the planet, and to those who need it.” 

According to the Council for Textile Recycling, 25 billion pounds of textiles end up in landfills each year in the U.S. alone — a number that continues to grow every year. The EPA estimates that the textile recycling industry fails to recycle approximately 85% of post-consumer textile waste. The average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually.

Families throughout Bellingham are asked to donate clean and gently used long and short sleeve shirts, pants and jeans, skirts and dresses, sweaters and sweatshirts, coats, backpacks, shoes, and hangers.

Funding for this clothing drive and market comes from Re-Use Works and Ragfinery, who create job opportunities while reusing and upcycling discarded materials and textiles.

Media Contact: Sasha Savoian, RE Sources Sustainable Schools Education Specialist, sashas@re-sources.org, (360) 733-8307 ext. 266

August 19, 2018: Community gathers where Canadian oil pipeline crosses Nooksack River to demonstrate concerns of spill risks

posted by Simon Bakke   [ updated ]

August 19, 2018

Concerned Whatcom County residents gather to raise awareness of the dangers of a nearby pipeline which could transport more of Canada’s tar sands oil.


FERNDALE, Wash. — More than fifty concerned community members came together on Saturday, August 18, on the banks of the Nooksack River where the 64-year-old Puget Sound Pipeline — a segment of the Trans Mountain Pipeline recently bought by Canada — crosses beneath the river, carrying about 30 percent of all crude oil shipped into Washington State.

Several speakers addressed the crowd at Hovander Homestead Park about the risks and hazards of the pipeline, and helped the attendees communicate their concerns to the Washington State Department of Ecology.

“It's really important that Ecology hears from people in the community. Most matters of pipeline safety across the country are out of sight, out of mind, and nobody cares until one blows up,” said Carl Weimer, director of the Pipeline Safety Trust. Weimer noted that the Pipeline Safety Trust is often the only one to provide a comment on local pipeline safety plans.

The federal government of Canada recently purchased the pipeline from Kinder Morgan, a Texas company. The transfer of ownership prompted Ecology to open a public comment period, ending August 25, on the pipeline’s Emergency Response Plan, which shows that there is no way to safely contain or clean up a heavy oil spill in the river.

“The Puget Sound region doesn't have emergency response plans for heavier crude oils. There are only plans to deal with spills of lighter oil, and even these are only capable of cleaning a small fraction of the spill,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist at RE Sources. “A spill of heavy oil in the Nooksack would be sure to devastate already-threatened salmon runs, which many rely on."


Contact: Eddy Ury, Clean Energy Program Manager, cleanenergy@re-sources.org or 360-733-8307

April 10, 2018: Squalicum High School hosts donated formal attire boutique before prom, removing barriers and reducing waste

posted by Simon Bakke

April 10, 2018

RE Sources and Squalicum High School aim to make this special — but costly — dance accessible to all students and keep hundreds of pounds of textiles out of landfills

BELLINGHAM, WA — In an effort to make prom accessible to all students while reducing textile waste in the community, Squalicum High School will hold a boutique for its students to “shop” for donated formal clothing, at no cost to them, for their May 19 prom. RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and ReUse Works are collecting clean items until April 23.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States throws away 21 billion pounds of textiles every year, about 82 pounds per resident.

“This drive is extending the life of our natural resources - think of the energy and water it takes to manufacture a tuxedo - from growing and manufacturing the fibers all the way to the electricity the store uses to power its displays and sell you the tux. That's a lot of waste for one night. Our goal is to lessen the impact,” said Priscilla Brotherton, Sustainable Schools Program Manager.

Renting or buying formal clothing can be expensive, preventing students who would otherwise attend this once-in-a-lifetime event from going.

“Honestly, it’s really helpful because in a family of seven and being low income I wouldn’t have been able to get a dress without this program,” said a junior at Squalicum High School who wished to remain anonymous.

The boutique at Squalicum High School will be open from April 30 to May 18, and during students’ lunch period they can try on outfits and take home their favorite. Anyone can donate their clean formal wear until April 23, including formal dresses, blazers, tuxedos, ties, suspenders, dress shirts, men’s dress shoes, and hangers at these locations:
  • RE Sources office (above the RE Store)
  • Squalicum High School
  • Barkley Public Library
Media Contact: Priscilla Brotherton, Sustainable Schools Program Manager, 
 priscillab@re-sources.org,  (360) 733-8307 ext. 218

June 11, 2018: RE Sources celebrates Orca Month with waterfront kayak tour

posted by Simon Bakke

June 11, 2018

RE Sources and Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures teach about Bellingham’s waterfront history and resident orca population by kayak



BELLINGHAM, WA — In celebration of Orca Month this June, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures invite the public to join a kayak tour of Bellingham’s waterfront from 6:00 - 8:30 PM on Monday, June 25th.

Tour leaders will show kayakers a perspective of Bellingham Bay that can’t be seen from land, and visit sites that illuminate the history of Bellingham Bay, its historic contamination, cleanup and habitat improvement opportunities, and how our local bay plays a role in the health of the Salish Sea and its endangered orca population. 

“The Bay has long suffered from a history of pollution and habitat destruction, which harms our orcas and the fish they rely on for food,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist at RE Sources. “This evening adventure will give folks a better sense of our Bay's history from a unique perspective — from Bellingham Bay itself — plus a chance to see firsthand cleanup sites and what's being done to remedy the past.”

“Orca Month in June is a chance to celebrate one of our region’s most iconic wildlife species, but also an opportunity to reflect on the plight of these fragile creatures,” according to the Orca Awareness Month website. During Orca Month, organizations and individuals from across the Salish Sea host educational and celebratory events to raise awareness of the threats facing the Southern Resident orca population, and opportunities to engage in protection efforts.

The tour costs $50 per person including a tandem kayak rental, or $35 per person for those who bring their own kayak. No experience is needed for those renting kayaks, but participants must be physically fit to paddle, and those under the age of 18 must be with a parent or guardian. Participants must register in advance by contacting Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures, at info@moondancekayak.com, or (360) 738-7664 or by signing up directly online at http://bit.ly/orcamonthpaddle.

Media Contact: Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper/Lead Scientist, eleanorh@re-sources.org, 360-733-8307 ext. 213

May 7, 2018: First-time forum connects Skagit County residents to marine science in Fidalgo Bay

posted by Simon Bakke   [ updated ]

May 7, 2018

“Science on the Bay” connects people to the professional and citizen scientists working to better understand and preserve Fidalgo Bay


ANACORTES, WA — The Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee is hosting its first-ever forum to show people in Skagit County the important science happening right in their backyard — Fidalgo Bay. The forum, called Science on the Bay, is Saturday, May 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Northwest Education Services District 189, 1601 R Avenue, Anacortes.

Science on the Bay is free, and lunch is provided to attendees by Pizza Factory. All ages are invited. 

The forum is a unique opportunity to learn about work being done to study — and protect — Fidalgo Bay’s animals, plants and habitat. Talks and displays focus on local science topics like monitoring pollution using mussels, wintering seabirds, heron, ocean acidification, the impacts of invasive green crab, and more. The keynote speaker is Kristin Swenddal, Aquatic Resources Division Manager at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

“Our state’s Aquatic Reserves are fascinating, diverse places,” said Pete Haase, event organizer. “It’s important for the families and local residents who live around and enjoy Fidalgo Bay to know what sort of things scientists are finding out there.”

The day is hosted by Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve Citizen Stewardship Committee, and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

Located in Skagit County, the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve is one of five Aquatic Reserves in the state. Established by the Department of Natural Resources on state-owned aquatic lands in Puget Sound, Aquatic Reserves include important biodiversity and aquatic habitat critical to Salish Sea health.

For more information or to RSVP (encouraged but not required), contact Natalie Lord at NatalieL@re-sources.org, or (603) 553-8200.

To RSVP on Facebook, search for “Science on the Bay: Fidalgo Bay” or visit www.facebook.com/events/2005859999731957/

Full schedule:
Open house with posters 9 – 10
Posters and talks 10 – 11:45
Posters and lunch 11:45 – 1:00
Keynote talk 1:00 – 1:45
Open house with posters 1:45 – 3:00

Media contact: Natalie Lord, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, NatalieL@re-sources.org, 603-553-8200

April 23, 2018: Shuksan Middle School students make art from landfill-bound textiles for May 4 Children’s Art Walk

posted by Simon Bakke   [ updated ]

April 23, 2018

With help from RE Sources, Shuksan Middle School art students unite to foster the practice of reusing materials through creating original art. 



BELLINGHAM, WA — After learning about the environmental concerns surrounding waste and landfills, Shuksan Middle School sixth- and seventh-grade students are exploring waste reduction practices by creating art pieces made from discarded textiles to enter into Allied Arts’ 18th annual Children’s Art Walk.

At a workshop led by RE Sources’ Sustainable Schools Program, with funding from ReUse Works and the Whatcom County Health Department, students brainstormed ways to divert materials from landfills such as repairing broken items, reusing water bottles, recycling, and upcycling — making something of higher value out of discarded materials.

Students of Carolyn Heywood, Shuksan Middle School art teacher, took action by upcycling textiles into their own artwork. Some students are also using discarded bicycle tire inner tubes in their works.

“As we continue to learn about the consequences of wasteful habits, it’s vital that students begin to incorporate waste reduction practices into their lives. And upcycling is an interesting, creative, and fun way to achieve that,” said Sasha Savoian, Sustainable Schools Education Specialist.

According to the Council for Textile Recycling, 85 percent of textiles consumed by Americans go to the landfill — a staggering 21 billion pounds every year. Many textiles are made with synthetic materials derived from petroleum products, which take decades or longer to decompose in a landfill. 

The students’ pieces will be unveiled on May 4 during Allied Arts’ gallery walk at Goat Mountain Pizza in downtown Bellingham from 6:00 - 9:00 PM. Art remains on display at Goat Mountain Pizza through May 19th.

Media Contact: Sasha Savoian, Sustainable Schools Education Specialist, 
 sashas@re-sources.org,  (360) 733-8307 ext. 226

April 12, 2018: RE Sources, Whatcom MRC to train volunteer citizen scientists in monitoring the Salish Sea

posted by Simon Bakke   [ updated ]

April 12, 2018

Free trainings give people from all backgrounds tools to participate in variety of beach surveys, playing an important role in protecting marine resources as government agency funding for monitoring the Salish Sea grows scarce.



BELLINGHAM, WA — A comprehensive volunteer program called North Sound Stewards, led by RE Sources for Sustainable Communities and the Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee (MRC), is kicking off its second season of training participants to become citizen scientists and play an important role in understanding and protecting the Salish Sea. 

The program offers a variety of learning and monitoring opportunities, including intertidal surveys, forage fish surveys, plastics monitoring and sea star wasting syndrome surveys. 

“People across generations and experiences find it especially rewarding to get outside and quantify the plants and animals that they would see on a casual beach walk,” said Chris Brown, Whatcom MRC member and citizen scientist. “You don't have to come to a beach survey knowing a bunch about mussels, tides or data collection, but you'll leave having learned something of great value.”

The program requires 50 hours of trainings and surveys over a one-year period. Program participation can reflect individual skills, from the actual survey work to photography, data entry or event coordination. Volunteers of all ages and abilities are welcome; children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

“The information we collect provides a baseline of data that informs policy, restoration efforts, cleanups, and more,” said Eleanor Hines, North Sound Baykeeper and Lead Scientist at RE Sources. “Citizen scientists are integral to support important work that underfunded agencies cannot do themselves.”

The program is in partnership with the Northwest Straits Initiative, the Northwest Straits Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and the Cherry Point and Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserves Citizen Stewardship Committees. Participants can also connect with other nonprofits and government agencies to receive additional trainings and participate in green crab surveys and ocean acidification surveys, among other opportunities.

Upcoming intertidal survey trainings (participation in one of two trainings is required):
  • Whatcom County: 12:00 - 4:30 PM, Saturday, May 5th, Heron Center, Birch Bay State Park, 7290 Birch Bay Dr, Blaine.
  • Skagit County: 12:00 - 4:30 PM, Sunday, May 6th, Fidalgo Bay Resort, 4701 Fidalgo Bay Rd, Anacortes.

For more information about North Sound Stewards, visit re-sources.org/north-sound-stewards. To sign up for the program, click the “Register Today” button. Questions? Contact Eleanor Hines at eleanorh@re-sources.org or 360-733-8307 ext. 213.

February 15, 2018: New high school program elevates teen voices on social, environmental issues

posted by Simon Bakke   [ updated ]

February 15, 2018

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities brings together high school students to learn about creating social change through peer engagement. 

WHATCOM COUNTY, WA — This March, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities will launch its first-ever Youth for Environment and People committee, or YEP!, an opportunity for high school students to select and collaborate on solutions to issues impacting society and the environment. 

Students will learn how to draw attention to an issue and speak comfortably about it, as well as learn skills on ways to take action on that issue. The program seeks to include participants with a wide range of experience in action-taking and grassroots organizing.

“We aim to create a space where high school students across Whatcom County can learn, engage and take action on issues that are important to them and, therefore, should be important to our community,” said Priscilla Brotherton, Sustainable Schools Program Manager at RE Sources. “We want to help build a collective voice for those not old enough to vote.”

The program will provide participants with resources and an opportunity to work alongside professionals with experience in grassroots organizing. Once the program begins, students will concentrate on planning and hosting an action event on April 29 for teenagers from across Whatcom County to engage their peers in their chosen issue. 

Research suggests that when young people identify with the problems in their community, they are more likely to act on them, according to Sahar Arbab, YEP! leader and Western Washington University graduate student studying youth community leadership and participation. 

“Often, adults make decisions and take action on issues without consulting those that will be impacted the most. Since young people are our future decision makers, we should be listening to them now, and providing support and resources for them as they take action,” Arbab said.

YEP! is funded by the Whatcom Community Foundation. 

Applications are accepted until February 21. To participate, you must…
  • Be enrolled in high school during the 2017-2018 academic year
  • Be able to attend a weekly two-hour meeting starting in late February until the end of April (excluding spring break).
  • Live in Whatcom County.

For more information or to apply to be on the committee, visit www.re-sources.org/yep.

Media Contact:  Priscilla Brotherton, Sustainable Schools Program Manager, priscillab@re-sources.org,  (360) 733-8307 ext. 218.

State of the Sound: Still Hurting

posted Nov 13, 2017, 3:36 PM by Simon Bakke

New report cites progress in Whatcom County while calling for efforts to keep pollution out of the Salish Sea


The Puget Sound Partnership’s biennial “State of the Sound” report, released today, says restoration efforts around the Salish Sea have made a difference.  At the same time, the report warns that we must do a better job at stopping pollution to protect what have.  The report urges Puget Sound residents to support state and local efforts “as they go about the extraordinarily difficult task of preventing projects and activities that will harm the Sound.”

As one of the organizations working to prevent pollution from harming the Sound, RE Sources agrees with the report’s fundamental message. “Restoration alone isn’t enough,” said RE Sources clean water program manager Ann Russell. “The need to identify and stop sources of pollution are critical, and will become even more important as our region continues to grow.” The report notes that an estimated 1,000 people every week are moving into the Puget Sound basin.

At the same time, RE Sources was heartened that the report called out several projects in Whatcom County that have made a positive difference. The report specifically cites the reopening of shellfish beds in Drayton Harbor and efforts to use natural infrastructure to filter polluted stormwater runoff entering Lake Whatcom (Bellingham’s drinking water source). RE Sources is proud to have played a role in both of these successful projects.

“It’s a tough challenge,” said Russell. “And we know from experience that when the people of Whatcom County work together to stop pollution, we get results that everyone who cares about the Salish Sea can own and be proud of.”

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