The Unexpected side of Sub-par recycling

April 11, 2010

One of the few dissapointments I’ve had in Montana is the recycling available. I can recycle aluminum, plastic 1 & 2, newspaper and magazines, cardboard. Better than Carbondale 5 years ago, but the lack of glass and tin can recycling kind of drives me bonkers. I wanted to come to Montana because it’s “Colorado 10 years ago,” so not sure why I was expecting some state-of-the-art recycling systems.

But there is a flip side to this “issue.” I’ve been trying to become less dependant on packaged goods. And buying boxed wine is more Eco-friendly with its cardboard rather than glass, and not because I’m cheap….right? Our local grocery store has a fantastic bulk food selection. I’ve been getting dried beans to rehydrate, black pepper in ziplocs (refillable), and I’ve made a commitment to start chopping my own tomatos rather than the easy petite diced (although I don’t think I’ve ever diced anything “petite”). Ideally we’ll have our own house this summer to actually grow the tomatos! And I’ve learned how to make my own broth out of veggie scraps.

Today I baked my own bread with Wheat Montana flour, made granola, and we tried our hand at homemade mozerella (using milk from Victor, MT). So while it pains me to throw that can or glass beer bottle away (thank you New Belgium for making “Sunshine in a can,” now just need to find some up here), at least I can source many of my items locally. I can’t wait for the farmers market with the Flathead cherries, and getting some Farm-to-Market pork (next to my favorite local bike trails, Pig Farms), and growing our own peppers so I don’t have to have my mom keep sending up green chili from Colorado.

This is not to toot my own horn on sustainability, but I’m a bit excited with the challenge of massively reducing my waste. Now, to find that electric scooter to get me up the hill to work.


  1. Given the amazingly high per-pound energy cost to produce aluminum (most aluminum cans are 35% recycled, 65% new mined aluminum), even though you can’t easily recycle glass bottles here it’s debatable which is better for the environment. That is especially true if you’re comparing canned beer from Colorado to bottled beer made closer to home, in MT. Better than both choices in this false dichotomy is to to get your growler filled at the Great Northern, Flathead Lake, or Tamarack breweries. Especially the Great Northern, since you can bike there. Of course, you could also shell out $10-$15/month to have New World Recycling pick your bottles (and other recyclables) up from you once a week.

    Also, you can buy Farm-to-Market Pork year-round out at the actual farm. Just give them a call.

    Comment by Donnie C. — April 12, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  2. I do just need to fill my growler from the Brewery more… I just don’t drink that much beer, it was more of an analogy… geez. 🙂 Is that the name of that other recycling place? I couldn’t find it online. good to know. You know everything.

    Comment by jess — April 15, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  3. vodka has a much higher drunk-per-volume than beer and uses less plastic than boxed wine and is there for more environmentally friendly than both 🙂

    Comment by dave — April 17, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

  4. I second that Dave…vodka = responsible, right? 🙂

    Comment by Chandi — April 20, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

  5. I have the ultimate solution…move to Oregon!! (Just Kidding!) (kind of)
    Seriously, though, being familiar with the recycling in Montana and experiencing the recycling out here…there is a world of difference! It is wonderful. How often do you make it in to Kali?? Surely you could drop off the glass somewhere there? I’m not sure I guess. Check
    I’m inspired by your efforts to reduce your waste. 🙂 I am trying to find new ways to reduce more as well. And I cannot wait to have my own garden (next year hopefully). Composting too…that is something we always did growing up that makes a huge difference.
    How was the mozzarella? I have never tried to make cheese. ANYWAY…best to stop before I write my own blog post. Thanks for sharing…feeling motivated…

    Comment by laura — May 1, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  6. Glass is a state-wide recycling issue. Could you recycle it in Helena? Two companies that supposedly take glass to Spokane… Very excited to start my compost again. Looking forward to visiting you in Portland someday soon!

    Comment by jess — May 3, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  7. In Helena, there were several things, such as glass, that you could take to the dump for recycling. A permit was free as long as you had an address in the city limits. I don’t know if that’s the case in other towns across the state though. I think I remember reading an article a couple years ago about the way the industry was going to have to grow out of individual pockets successfully in order to create a larger-scale program in the state. Oh Montana…

    Comment by laura — May 6, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  8. What I forgot to say just now is that I asked about Kalispell because I know there is a Target there and Target seems to be getting better and better about recycling stations…

    Comment by laura — May 6, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

  9. You can have my Cheetos when you pry the bag from my cold dead hands. I haven’t figured out how to make those from scratch.

    Oh yeah, i’m in the recycling lead at the moment by volume and tonnage. So far in 2010 I have recycled nearly 3 tons of metal that has unfortunately wandered into my world. Not bad for your 2nd least non-sustainable and environmentally minded friend.

    Comment by Yuani — July 16, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  10. nice job Y, I’m so proud of you!! 🙂

    Comment by jessica — July 19, 2010 @ 1:37 am

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