OP/ED: CARTM – More Than a Transfer Station

By Jenny Greenleaf, CARTM Board Member
As I swept out The Refindery for the last time today, I reflected what a wonderful community hub we citizens of North Tillamook County created at a transfer station. It wasn’t just a place to recycle, bring your trash, and do a little shopping. Coming to CARTM was about seeing your friends and neighbors as well as interacting with people not in your social circles. It was about all of us.

CARTM supported and was supported by so many others.

Community members created the gorgeous mosaic that graced The Refindery entry—giving objects imbued with personal meaning for artist Cathy Silver’s piece. Artists took metal from the art metal bin and made it into art for the Trash Art show and created fashion from random bits of trash for the Trashion Show. Oregon Du Drops of Rockaway collected burnt-out lightbulbs and turned them into rain art, while other artists collected feed bags and old candle wax to make usable art.

Other organizations helped us find places where discards could still be useful. CARTM saved frayed towels for United Paws’ spay and neuter program and diverted accidentally received clothing to the Clothing Bank or the Hope Chest. The old phones went to the Women’s Resource Center, the eyeglasses to the Lions. CARTM supplied furniture and blankets for the warming center at Nehalem Bay United Methodist Church.
CARTM volunteers brought electronics to the Nehalem Middle School for the after-school tech group, and Neahkahnie High received small engines and parts to practice on. CARTM also collaborated with Neahkahnie students on e-waste events to raise money for the senior safe graduation party. Speakers talked about recycling at Nehalem Elementary, and we participated in the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership Children’s Clean Water Festival as well as the Manzanita holiday faire for kids.
The Riverbend Players theatre troupe depended on CARTM for furniture and props for sets, and the post offices of Nehalem, Manzanita, and Wheeler sent large barrels of unwanted junk mail off with CARTM volunteers. The Manzanita Farmers Market and Visitor Center relied on CARTM to manage smart waste stations, and CARTM provided recycling and assistance for the Lower Nehalem Watershed Council, Sea Turtles Forever, and the Eugene Schmuck Foundation.
CARTM supplied reusable dinnerware for too many organizations to mention, but the Zero-Waste Event Kit kept thousands of paper plates, plastic forks, and styrofoam cups out of the landfill.
I am still upset that a non-profit organization that dedicatedly served Tillamook County for 20 years was abruptly kicked to the curb—throwing 13 employees out of work two weeks before Christmas. However, the community spirit that created CARTM-as-a-transfer station is alive and well. CARTM-as-an-advocacy-organization board members will take a break and then get on with our work to eliminate waste by inspiring our community to rethink, reduce, reuse, and recycle. We’ll be looking for your ideas.