Our Beginnings

For 40 years RE Sources has evolved to meet the Northwest Washington's most pressing environmental challenges with dogged advocacy and community-powered solutions.

Our beginnings are rooted in the early 1980s, a small group of local residents got together around a kitchen table one evening to discuss their shared frustration with the lack of neighborhood recycling services. In those days, one had to load up one’s recyclables and take them to a drop-off site at Western Washington University. This meant that very few county residents were recycling.

These kitchen-table recyclers soon learned that other towns around the country had begun to offer curbside pick-up of recyclables, and so they tried to convince the City of Bellingham to offer a similar service. Their initial efforts failed, but that didn’t stop them. Instead, they offered curbside pickup themselves. Three target neighborhoods were identified, and flyers were distributed. Although many people were skeptical and thought the fledgling community-led program would never get off the ground, it did. In fact, by 1985, Bellingham Community Recycling (BCR) had expanded its operations to cover ten neighborhoods, owned its own truck and employed a paid crew. Moreover, BCR had begun to conduct programs in the schools designed to teach students the ABC’s of recycling.

In 1989, after the community proved it could be done, the City of Bellingham began offering curbside recycling to all city residents. Shortly thereafter, in 1991, Whatcom County followed suit, making it the first county in the state to offer curbside recycling—an impressive feat given the program’s informal and modest start. Even today, three decades later, the unwavering commitment and dedication of that small group of volunteers continues to infuse the work of the present-day RE Sources.

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