Years ago in Chicago I also instigated my 75-unit condominium's participation in recycling, but only by proving that the cost of newspaper, glass, steel, and aluminum pick-up would off-set the cost of having it collected as garbage. For many years now I, and most of my neighbors, have dutifully deposited newspapers, cans, and bottles into the large signal-blue bins in the condo's garage. Those bins were picked up by the Hyde Park Resource Center, the original, and at the beginning, the only option in our 'hood; HPRC was run by devotees and there was no doubt the materials ended up where they were supposed to: in new newspapers, airplane bodies, and pickle jars. Eventually, one of the local grocery stores started accepting milk jugs and other plastic. So I do have a small, short history of hauling recycling. I like to think some of those milk jugs I dropped off are now incorporated into the newer boardwalks around Yellowstone's geyser basins. I can only hope it is so.
When we moved to our house in Montana this fall we deliberated on lots of things including whether to pay the trash pick-up service to take our recycling along with the food debris (not set up yet for mulching) and litter box leavings and materials that cannot be recycled (aka, garbage). We decided instead to start by taking our recycling to one of many locations in Bozeman, most located in out-of-the-way corners of the massive parking lots of retailers such as Home Depot and Target (extra kudos for Target, the only place in town that takes glass) and coincidentally, very close to where we live thus necessitating only the tiniest of diversions from routes we follow anyway. In particular we have been producing truckloads of cardboard between the gradually emptying moving cartons and the containers our many new purchases (oh, how much stuff a new house needs!) arrive in.
Given this opportunity the two of us have been very vigilant about our "post-consumer waste" as it's termed, much more so than we were in Chicago. KLK in particular is a huge consumer of canned soda, and I like my beer in bottles, but we also go through so many other items and have inspected even berry and tomato cartons for the distinctive icons of recyclable plastic, which, it turns out, are usually there.
Two big surprises have come from this new lifestyle of ours: 1. We don't live as light as we thought. Every day we are between the two of us capable of generating a mountain of material that would contribute a larger share than we imagined were it going to garbage, and 2. Bozemanians are very dedicated to recycling. Although I've known about and followed life in Bozeman for as many years as I've been hoping to move here, given that this is a politically conservative region, where the cause of climate change is not universally believed to be attributable to man's profligate behaviors and people drive pick-ups, not Priuses, I have been extremely pleased to witness how many residents are responsibly splitting the recyclables from their waste and exerting the mental, physical, and fossil-fuel energy to get it to a place where it will be correctly destined. The many large receptacles at each location - these photos show only a few of the bins behind Home Depot - and that they are often filled to capacity when we stop by in spite of being regularly emptied - make me doubly glad we live here among so many kindred spirits.