On recycling, wheat, and pride in Montana

I’ve been in Montana about 48 hours now.  From what I can see so far, there isn’t a heavy stressing on recycling around here.  In fact, I have had this confirmed by one of my Aunts, who sympathised with me upon my complaining on the lack of recycling.
  “There is some, but you have to know where to look.  We often take ours home.”  She told me.  Apparently there is a drop-off near a local pub, so we’ll bag up our stuff to take there tonight.  I has made me cringe at having to throw out anything that is remotely recyclable (and don’t even get me started on things compostable).  I know I am a bit spoiled back in Victoria for the abundance of great recycling opportunities, and that we have an efficient, useful system set up in our house and know what companies will pick-up what.  We recycle almost everything.  One or two garbage bags are put out on our garbage pick-up take, which, for a family of four, isn’t bad.  It’s mostly non-compostable food stuffs, non-compostable “pull-up” diapers for my three-year-old, and the odd other bit.  Everything is recycled or composted.

But back to recycling in Montana.  It does make me wonder if the rest of the state, and indeed, the rest of the United States, is like this?  Or does it vary from state to state and urban to rural communities?  Is one state more progressive in it’s organised recycling, like, say, Oregon, or Washington, than another, say Texas or Kentucky?  Do the political leanings of a state tend to dictate the emphasise on proper recycling facilities?  And could the same be asked of the Canadian provinces?  Is B.C more recycling-friendly than Alberta?  Or can one generalise the province as a whole?  Does it need to be more specific, more local, to cities and towns and the rural areas?  I get the sense that there would be a lot of variation, and that generalisations would likely be rash, and/or, incorrect.

Something else I’ve noticed while here, is a rather strong stressing, or presence, of Montana-sourced foods (wheat, huckleberries, cherries, etc.), businesses (named after local towns, mountains, rivers, lakes, etc.), and a general strong sense of pride in all-things-Montana.  I’m guessing many areas like to do this, but as a tourist, looking at an area with new eyes, I think these things are more glaring, more noticed.  I’m trying to recall if I noticed such a strong sense of local pride of city/area/state, when I was in Oregon or Washington state.  There may be, and likely is, but nothing jumps out at me in the same way as this.  It could be, perhaps, seeing the smaller town (like Kalispell) and other more rural areas, that really make these stand out or be more likely.

I was surprised to find out that large amounts of wheat is grown around here, even with such a large presence of mountainous land.  There is a local chain store called “Wheat Montana“, where you can buy breakfast, lunch and bakery goods, plus sacks of local flour.  You can even grind your own bag of flour, very like grinding your beans at the grocery store.  If we weren’t flying to get back home, I would have totally purchased a bag of flour to use for baking bread this fall.  They have more than the common two wheat types called “Hard Red Winter wheat” and “Soft White Spring Wheat”.  They also have “Bronze Chief wheat” and “Prairie Gold Wheat”.  Even better, I’ve just discovered that their wheat and flour products can be ordered online!!  Guess what I’ll be ordering mail-order to Victoria later this month?

It’s been quite fun playing tourist, in an area I haven’t been in for a very long time – since my mid-teen years.  And being on Flathead Lake, in a smaller town setting, has been great.  My boys got to go out on a kayak and paddle boat this morning, as the weather has turned sunny and clear.  Last night, too, we were at my other Aunt’s large house, where their front lawn meet their dock and the lake, roasting marshmallows on an open fire.  Oh, and I got to be the fire-starter.  It’s been a while since I had to build a fire from scratch, but I was successful, and we got sticky fingers and over-dosed on corn syrup sweetness.

Off to the pub for a family dinner in an hour.  May have time to post again tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “On recycling, wheat, and pride in Montana

  1. I can speak both to the recycling and to the localism topics.Recycling in Montana is dismal, it's true. But it's mostly because there isn't a large population base to justify the expense of proper recycling facilities. The state capital only has 30,000 people, Missoula about 90k and Butte – not sure. But There are probably as many people in Montana as there are on Vancouver Island. In order to make recycling attractive, you have to have a large population base that will participate in order to justify the expense of it. (There is no glass recycling in Tofino/Ucluelet, for the record).Second: remember that Montana has a much longer history than we have in BC. Obviously both places have existed for the same amount of time but Montana was populated by Europeans long before BC was. The history is also different – Victoria was named for the Queen, but there are still places like Ucluelet and Cowichan Bay and Bella Coola that have names that were adapted from the First Nations names. The same valley in the Okanagan in BC is called Okanogan in Washington State. That said, there does indeed seem to be a stronger sense of pride-of-place in the US than we have in Canada. That is, I think, due to Canadian modesty. We (as a society) find pride of this nature distasteful where as in the US it is par for the course. I'm not saying one way is better than the other but I did notice that too when we were there. It is an interesting cultural thing to observe.

  2. I think as the previous commenter mentioned it's about populations. I moved from the Lower Mainland to a pretty rural part of Virginia, up in the mountains, and recycling is dismal here too. The entire town has one drop off area that is frequently overloaded and always very messy. it's icky, but I still do it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s