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Recycling in Cody, WY

It took me a while to figure out where I could recycle in Cody.  First I was told “go to Wal-Mart, they have a drop off in the parking lot.”  But when I went I saw they only recycle plastic bags.  Finally I found the actual recycling center, a steel warehouse structure in back of the Senior Center near the main drag.

I suppose I was spoiled coming from California where I had curbside pick-up.  In Marin, we recycled plastics #1 & #2, plus all paper, cardboard, aluminum and glass.  If we got it wrong, it was sorted by people at the recycling center.  The local garbage company did the pick-up every week and they were making good money at it.  So good, that after a while, instead of the public putting out 5 gallon buckets every week with the recyclables, they gave us a nice special garbage can, one side for glass and the other side for everything else.

But I was grateful to at least find a recycling center in Cody.  I began taking my recyclables there weekly and sorting them myself, like you’re supposed to.  The first week the man who worked there came up and told me “We don’t take that kind of plastic.”

“But it’s number 1”  I insisted.

“Doesn’t matter.”

The next week he caught me again, this time with cereal boxes I’d crushed and put in the paper area.

“We don’t take that kind of paper.  That’s pressboard, not cardboard.”  He was training me.

The following week I threw some bean cans in the metal bin.  “No, no.”  he ran over.  “That’s tin, we don’t take that.”

This went on, every week, for months.  I just couldn’t figure out what they recycled and what they didn’t.  A few months later I read in the local paper that the recycling center would now be taking all plastics–1 through 7.  Even though that made no sense to me as far as what’s recyclable and what’s not, I secretly relished it.  Now, finally, I wouldn’t get into trouble, at least over the plastics.  I took my load, mostly #1’s, and started pumping them into the large bins.

“Wait, wait wait.  Not so fast.”  Here came my nemesis. Uh oh, I’m about to be reprimanded again, I thought.  “No plastic bags.”

“But Walmart takes plastic bags,” I protested.

“We don’t.”

One day I brought in batteries that I’d been saving up for a year.  Of course, batteries have lots of toxins in them, lead being one of them.  I was told no one takes those in Cody and I should just throw them in the trash.

Truthfully, this was getting pretty humorous.  The capstone of all scoldings came this summer.  I finally cleaned out my California storage unit and shipped the rest of my belongings here.  The packing company had used those awful plastic peanuts to protect many of my valuables.  I carefully put them all into garbage bags, about 10 bags worth, and took them optimistically down to the recycling center.

“Do you take these?” The familiar ‘lion at the gate’ was busy, so I asked a nice woman who works there.

“Yes, just put them in the back.  There is a man who comes and picks them up and sells them.  You too can sell them at UPS.”

Well I didn’t want to bother, and didn’t need the change, so I began unloading them and putting them in a corner of the warehouse, when along came the Bearer of Bad Recycling News.

“We don’t take that.”  he told me.  I told him the lady said he did.

“Well, we don’t, but a man does come weekly who takes them.  But he’s retiring soon.”

I asked when he was going to retire, hoping it wasn’t this week.

“He’ll probably retire when I do.”  I couldn’t resist so I asked “When’s that?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe in a few years.”

This summer a friend from California came and accompanied me to town.  “Have to stop at the recycling center.” I told her.

“I’ll help you sort” she said.  I felt amused.  So she started with the plastics.  “uh oh, no lids and no plastic bags.”  She moved on to the cans.  “Nope, those are tin, not aluminum.  Can’t recycle.”

“What!” My friend was confused.  Finally she was unloading the paper.  “Hold on, that’s pressboard.  They don’t take those.”

“But that’s paper.  They’re boxes. You’re just wrong there.”

“Let’s ask the lady and I’ll show you I’m right.”  Was I gloating?

A few months ago, the Cody Enterprise carried an editorial by a local woman encouraging Cody residents to recycle more, do their part.  Well, those people better be dedicated and persistent, I thought.  I’m pretty dogged about recycling, but most people aren’t.  If it ain’t easy, they’ll be quitting after one or two times.  The land fill, on the other hand, is easy and usually free.