Washington County - the land that recycling forgot

August 31, 2011|By TIM ROWLAND |

You know, I've been thinking — we've come this far, let's go for the whole enchilada. Let's make it our goal to be the last county in the entire United States of America to implement curbside recycling.

Think back. We held out pretty well on fluoride in the tap water, but we didn't finish the job. I think there were still some counties in the Deep South that showed superior endurance.

I say let's not make that mistake again. I want to see the entire state of Mississippi going to curbside before we recycle the first pop bottle.

Or we could make recycling payment-optional. At a meeting this week, County Administrator Greg Murray said that the commissioners regularly receive calls from county residents saying they do not want to be charged for recycling.

Am I hearing this right? Government is not going to do something because some people don't want it? Since when has that ever stopped 'em? Here are some things I didn't want to pay for: The widening of the Maugansville intersection. (Never use it.) New schools. (Don't have kids.) The whole Orphans Court deal. (I don't even know what they do.)

But hey, no problem. You don't want to pay for recycling, you don't have to. Fair enough? I thought so.

Oh, but we do take down the names of people who choose not to pay for recycling, and when we have to open a new multimillion-dollar cell for the landfill, we send those people the bill.

One other complaint seemed to resonate with the commissioners — that a homeowner's association doesn't like the look of the curbside recycling bins.

Man, they must hate actual trash cans. Or maybe they don't have any. Maybe they have a series of underground conveyors that send their trash straight to the landfill, or to some ungated community — whatever.

One other unexplored option is to hold a national "Adopt a Cheapskate" campaign. People in those slimeball, holier-than-thou "green" states like Oregon and Vermont can pay the curbside recycling tab for people in Washington County who currently hold their cash savings in earthen jars underneath a false floor in the root cellar.

You live in Maine, you start seeing television commercials showing sad, dirty faces of Washington County residents being made to recycle against their will. "For just pennies a day, you can turn that frown upside down," narrator James Earl Jones will say.

In exchange, sponsors will receive a photo of their adopted Washington Countian, and can expect a monthly, hand-written letter explaining how they are being jerked out of their hard-earned tax dollars.

But then again, no. That would defeat the original plan of being the last county standing, which I believe to be a good one. Think what it would mean for tourism.

"Come one, come all, see the last, belly-button-staring county in America to not have curbside recycling. Sit yourself right down and watch its county commissioners discuss recycling for the estimated 28,746th time this decade. Feel the thrill as you take a shuttle to Earth Care Road and see loads of plastic bottles and glass jars crushed beneath the unforgiving steel of a sheepsfoot roller."

I think we're good for it. If we can stall for three decades without enacting a coherent fire and rescue funding model, we can beat back recycling for a half-century, minimum.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at Tune in to the Rowland Rant at, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 at 6:30 p.m. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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