A Farewell to the Original South Whidbey Island Recycling Center

I love places that encourage me to bring my camera and photograph them. Last year, 2021, when I arrived on Whidbey Island, my neighbor Tom, introduced me to the South Whidbey Island Recycling Center. This place was not only a place to recycle, it was an open-air art studio.

What a fantastic place. This was not an ordinary recycling center. A lot of thought, joy, and laughter went into decorating this place. Teddy Bears resided on the roofs, teapots lined other roofs, and an elephant on another roof. The area where I dumped cans and bottles was supported by a row of toy trucks. I could write about this place in detail yet I would rather you sit back and take a look.

This year with great anticipation I prepared to go to the “Recycling Center” or “The Dump”. I had friends visiting and I had built up their anticipation about a trip to the dump. As I turned into the site my mouth dropped open in surprise. It looked like any other recycling center. There was nothing to explore. Everything that had made this center so special was gone. There was nothing to get excited about, I just dropped off the recycles and left. My friends, Sandy and Pat never got to experience the pure joy of this place.

The original owners have retired. When the current recyclers, the Island County government, took possession, most of the items that made this place unique were scrapped. No longer can I spend hours wandering around looking at all the items and discovering lost treasures. No longer can I look for Elvis or Maryland or JFK. Now I just go and recycle and leave. People don’t stand around and chat. It is all just business. Sigh.

I am glad that I got to see this place before it became just another stop on a Saturday. Finding unique and special places is part of the fun of travel. My hopes are still high that this recycling center may be a creative place again. When I spoke with one of the people who worked there, they said that they are going to try to bring it back in some form. Unfortunately, when the government steps in there are more restrictions and rules set in place.

Today I am thankful to have discovered this center in its former form. Today I am thankful for small town and rural living. Today I am thankful for “The Dump”.