Load up the pickup! It’s time to run to the dump. Did you think island life was all about sunny days and playing? Ha! Eventually, dump runs happen – even if someone else makes the trip. Recycling and getting rid of trash can be a bit different on an island. Fortunately, there are several solutions on Whidbey.
Travel back in time to when everything was tossed into a big hole, covered up, then another hole was begun. Not so, now. Depending on what you’re trying to get rid of you can have to make several trips. Yard waste goes to one site to get turned into compost. Old concrete gets ground into pieces to become new construction material. Electronics get separated and sorted and safed to make sure those toxic chemicals don’t get energetic and make a fire. Hazardous materials require custom care so those cocktails don’t get mixed and messy. Glass here. Plastic there, depending on the type of plastic. Wires are worth a lot of copper is involved. Metals that can get picked up by a magnet have a different destination. Get the idea? Did you skip over some of those categories? That’s not all of them, and yet some people know them all.
Island County has offers Solid Waste services. Don’t be surprised if you don’t visit them all. Why would you? (OK. There’s always someone who wants to see them all. That’s fine, too.) All of them handle a mix of recycling and trash. That’s the nature of our modern awareness. The Bayview and North Whidbey sites can handle much of what most people want to get rid of. They take things like paper, glass, cans, some plastics, and messy things like batteries and light bulbs. Tape those terminals! The sites’ limits are somewhat simple. A good example is that they’ll take many items but they have to be shorter than four feet (including other restrictions, evidently). That big hole still exists outside Coupeville at the main site, as well as so many variations on dumping and recycling that they should host tours. Watch out for traffic though. It is a busy place. Check with local governments, too. Langley has a yard waste site for residents; very handy.
Private businesses also help out. One person’s trash is someone else’s raw material. A couple of examples are All Whidbey Topsoil and Landshapers (look for the pink bulldozer), both in Freeland. Drop off and pickup, depending on what you need. Check the prices, of course because these are businesses.
And then there’s fun for shoppers. Drop in or off at Island Recycling north of Freeland and get rid of recycling, and such, metal, some electronics (not printers, evidently), and then look around. There are piles of T-posts, marine equipment, gardening tools, lots of kettles and Tonka toys – a collection that can keep artists and frugal folk distracted and prepared for projects, art pieces, or new inspirations. Expect to see a lot of things that leave you wondering, “What in the world is that?”
These aren’t play sites, so be careful. They’re also island sites, so check the schedules and the rates. And, of course, there must be others. Look around. A lot of folks here know there’s value in garbage.
Recycling and dumping on an island has different motivations and economics than mainland sites. There’s a limit to the amount of land available for creating bigger holes. Recycling materials make best economic sense of they can be recycled on the island, like yard waste to compost; because there’s a cost to shipping anything off the island. With a bit of practice, it is possible to limit what goes into the trash, which keeps household bills down. A compost pile helps, too. Knowing someone found something valuable in something you no longer needed can be fun, like in the hardware version of a thrift store. And who knows? You might just meet your neighbor and realize next time only one of you have to make the dump run, but where’s the fun in that?