After living in progressive cities like New York and Los Angeles, Fargo’s slower pace has made paper recycling more tricky.

I have lived in a number of large cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and, most recently, Minneapolis. Upon leaving Minneapolis for Fargo, ND, I undertook a new adventure into the confusing world of paper recycling. In Minneapolis, we had weekly recycling pick-up, which accepted a wide variety of paper. Newspaper, office paper, magazines, envelopes, paperboard (cereal boxes, etc.) and even shredded paper — no paper discrimination there. You had it, they wanted it. I took it all for granted.

For all of Fargo's charm, it still has a long way to go in its recycling processes.
In Fargo, we discovered there wasn’t any curbside recycling pick-up at all. A good portion of my week was spent trying to figure out what could be recycled, loading it into the car and toting it to a number of recycling drop-off sites. Then, in September 2009, curbside recycling came to Fargo. I felt as though I had won the lottery, but that feeling was short lived. The program is a biweekly recycling pick-up, which causes an entirely different level of confusion because I never seem to remember the week we have pick-up. The only paper allowed in our recycle bins is newspaper and magazines. So, here’s a look at my paper recycling breakdown: White or pastel-colored bond paper (no neon colors), white typing or writing paper, index cards, envelopes with or without windows, legal pad paper and mixed paper (i.e., junk mail) — these get dropped off at Minnkota Recycling centers in Fargo. Since no one in our area accepts paperboard or egg cartons for recycling, these get saved for when we’re visiting family in the Minneapolis area or we use them for crafts. Old telephone books are recycled in the spring and there are specially marked containers in the parking lots of area grocery stores. (Although I just got another new one the other day.) Toilet paper and paper towel tubes are cut up and put in our compost bin. No locations in our area accept shredded paper for recycling, so this also gets saved for when we’re visiting family in the Minneapolis area or we use it in lieu of packing peanuts. We’re settling in to our new city and have fallen in love with the people and the area. I am hopeful that as more people begin recycling, Fargo will be able to expand its recycling programs. In the meantime, I try to do my little bit to help the environment.