Roadtripping and Recycling

I just came back from an awesome vacation with my family over the holidays. We made a lot of good memories. And I’m pleased to say that we were able to do some recycling at the same time—that works for me.

For our vacation, we drove down to Sanibel Island in Florida, hitting the wayside rest areas and gas stations in seven different states. I’m proud to say there was a recycling bin at the gas station in Duluth where we topped off that first evening.  We didn’t have anything to recycle at the start of our journey but we produced many empty pop cans and water bottles as the wheels kept rolling.

Our stay in Venice, Florida was at a really great little place. The only bummer here was two-fold—no oven for the pizza and no recycling bin in the room.  My daughters did finally find a recycling bin out in the courtyard by the pop machine, though. Yay!

Onward to Sanibel Island. We stayed at two different places and both had outside recycling bins and EXPLAINED where they were and how to use them (woo-hoo!). I wore a bit of a path at the second place, trekking back and forth with my bags of recyclable items that accumulated after each day of meals and major hydration therapy (yep, we drank a lot of water and went through some cases of soda pop, too).

The private beach accesses were ”carry in, carry out”. Except for the orange peels I noticed several times, people were pretty good with that.  The public beaches had neat containers for both trash and recycling located in the parking areas.  My favorite beach for shelling had a  very conveniently located recycling container.

We, of course, had to bike through the J.N. Ding Darling Refuge, too. Lots of birds, snakes and alligators!  Was very pleased to see they paid attention to conservation. The main building at the entrance to the Refuge had those up/down flush toilets to conserve water and also had water bottle filling stations. We used both. They worked great and we found ourselves wishing we’d seen more of them.

On our return trip, we stopped to hang out at Siesta Key Beach near Sarasota….beautiful white sand, new beach house and a great entry area made with recycled blue, green and white glass in the concrete. The Hampton Inn where we stayed that evening had their cute little divided can (part trash, part recycling) in the room….we overflowed the recycling half!

Then it was the long haul to come back north out of Florida and cross Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Wisconsin to get back to Minnesota. I have to say “Kudos!” to the Wisconsin DNR and DOT. The Wisconsin wayside rest areas had big, clearly-labeled recycling bins.  One of our last rest areas was a source of warm fuzzies for me as I watched my husband sort out our cans and bottles into the correct recycling bins.

Looking back, the Duluth gas station we had stopped at back when we first started the trip was the only gas station we’d seen across our two thousand mile journey that had recycling bins available for travelers to use. That’s a pretty great thing to say for Duluth, Minnesota. I hope I see more the next time we take a road trip.

Next time you’re travelling, look for recycling bins and other opportunities to conserve. You may have to look around a bit, but many times the resources are available to leave a lighter footprint while making some great memories.

by Lorilee Blais, Environmental Program Coordinator at WLSSD