Green Okanogan: Cultivating sustainability through recycling and community

Volunteers have collected, processed and shipped 2-million+ pounds of recyclable material since 2015

Upon hearing the name Green Okanogan, or catching a glimpse of the logo, the image of the recycling facility in Tonasket likely comes to mind.

Understandably so, as that is where a motivated team of volunteers has collected, processed and shipped more than two million pounds of recyclable material over the past nine years. While Green Okanogan takes pride in serving as North Okanogan’s primary recycling facility, it began with a broader mission and continues to serve a wider cause.

The group commenced in 2008 at the inaugural Earth Day Alternative Fair at the Community Cultural Center in Tonasket. Dedicated to presentations on alternative energy, housing and agriculture, the two-day event provided valuable insights into ecological practices. As the fair concluded, a proposal emerged to form a local group for ongoing discussions on sustainability.

Adopting the name Green Okanogan (GO), the group subsequently went on to sponsor the next four Earth Day Alternative Fairs.

Initially embracing a broad focus, GO eventually honed in on the critical need for local recycling. Efforts were initiated, mainly in response to the minimal recycling options in north Okanogan, exacerbated by the relocation of a county recycling bin to a transfer station 12 miles away. A community-wide recycling survey in 2009 laid the foundation and in 2010, GO became a Washington state non-profit.

Over the next five years, GO engaged in collecting recyclables at various locations around town on a limited schedule while actively educating the public on recycling practices. In 2014, GO achieved federal 501(c)3 non-profit status, unlocking access to grant funding.

Opening the current facility at 3 Rodeo Rd. in 2015 marked another milestone, made possible through an Okanogan Family Faire grant, fundraising, memberships and a USDA Rural Development loan.

Since then, GO has evolved into a comprehensive recycling center, specializing in paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum cans, tin cans, textiles and e-cycle.

The GO Again Thrift Store further promotes reuse by selling donated items and serves as a financial support when market prices on recyclables are low.

Additionally, volunteers offer educational activities, sustainability workshops and recently opened a bimonthly Repair Café with the help of a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Carol Lanigan, who was there at the very beginning and now serves as a regular volunteer and board secretary, says that, “watching Green Okanogan change over the years has been heartening. Through the hard work of our volunteers and the commitment of our community, we have made tremendous growth increasing our intake of recyclables and offering other means of sustainability. It brings to mind the wise words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

To date, GO has successfully recycled 1,100 tons – a literal mountain of material that otherwise would have ended up as waste in the county landfill.

The organization is devoted to fostering a circular economy, encouraging the reuse, repair and recycling of resources, in contrast to the wasteful practices of a linear economy. Despite changes in names and faces over the years, GO remains rooted in this commitment, encouraging sustainable living in an ever-changing world. For future announcements and updates, be sure to follow Green Okanogan on Facebook and on www.greenokanogan.weebly.com.

Green Okanogan’s hours of operations.

This material is funded through a Public Participation Grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology. Ecology reviewed the content for grant continuity but does not necessarily endorse it.

GO has evolved into a comprehensive recycling center, specializing in paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum cans, tin cans, textiles and e-cycle.

The news and editorial staff of Sound Publishing, Inc. had no role in the preparation of this post. The views and opinions expressed in this sponsored post are those of the advertiser and do not reflect those of Sound Publishing, Inc.

Sound Publishing, Inc. does not accept liability for any loss or damages caused by the use of any products, nor do we endorse any products posted in our Marketplace.