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America Recycles Day at landfill

November 06, 1997|By Dennis Shaw

Want to travel to an exotic place this holiday season, all expenses paid? Well then, have I got a deal for you.

There are a couple of catches, however.

First, it's not really an exotic place. Second, it's not really a holiday. Third, it's not really free. And fourth, you'll be down in the dumps about it.

You probably don't think that sounds like much of a vacation. But I think it's a great idea. Let me explain.

For starters, the idyllic vacation spot is Washington County Sanitary Landfill on Resh Road. Actually, I guess it could be called exotic, for most people. One of Webster's definitions of "exotic" is "having the charm or fascination of the unfamiliar." It is fascinating (sort of), and it unfamiliar, to most of us.

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However, I guess calling "America Recycles Day" a holiday is stretching things a bit. It is Saturday, Nov. 15, so most of us will have the day off work. But, alas, it's not a paid holiday. Still, it has been proclaimed by Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, so it's official.

The expense-paid part is courtesy of Washington County Commissioners, who have done some declaring of their own by treating us to "free bulk trash disposal week."

Yep, a whole week. It starts Nov. 15, and runs for eight days, through Nov. 22. All week long, any Washington County resident, even those of us who don't have landfill permits, can dispose of bulk trash free of charge.

Technically, of course, we're paying for the service with our tax money. But for this one week, anyway, individual dumpers won't have to pay extra.

County officials are hoping this program will motivate us to pick up and get rid of those unsightly things that have been sitting around gathering dirt because we didn't know what else to do with them. The trash collectors won't take them, and nobody else wants them either.

Like that old television set that isn't worth paying to get fixed. Or the old mattress and box springs that even the dog won't sleep on, or the carpet that got wet and smells very musty. And that chair that's missing a leg and the dresser with the drawers that stick. And best of all, we can drop off up to four old tires per household, without paying the usual $2.50 apiece.

A lot of these things are recyclable and can be taken to the recycling area at the landfill. These include items like major appliances (stoves, refrigerators, water tanks), lawn mowers and aluminum storm doors. All the usual recyclable items can go, too, such as plastic and newspaper and metal cans and glass, too, and glossy magazines.

If this sounds confusing, there'll be people at the landfill who'll be glad to tell us what goes where. They'll also be watching to make sure we don't bring things we're not supposed to, like household trash and hazardous waste and building materials and yard waste. They reserve the right to refuse (or charge a fee) for that stuff.

But mostly, all they ask of us is that we show up during regular landfill hours from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday and fill out a coupon with our name and zip code.

Coupons have appeared in local newspapers and also are available at the landfill. The coupons will help make sure that trash isn't coming in from out of county, and also will help officials pick sites to have future bulk trash disposals.

Like hosts at any fine vacation spot, landfill personnel will be as welcoming and hospitable as possible. After all, they want us to have a good time, to come back for future visits, and to recommend it to our friends.

In fact, Harvey Hoch, Washington County's vacationland tour director (oops, no ... make that recycling coordinator), plans to be on site as much as he can that week to greet visitors and hand out brochures about the county's waste disposal operations.

He's convinced they've got a good thing going, and he'd like us to see it in operation. I certainly was impressed the first time I visited the landfill. It's not exactly Bermuda or Paris or Disney World, but it's got it's own charm. And it's free. It sounds to me like a perfect way to celebrate the holiday.

Dennis Shaw is a former Herald-Mail editor. Write to him at P.O. Box 276, Clear Spring, Md. 21722, or call 301-842-3863.

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