"Al" was fuming.
"No way! If those bozos think I'm sorting garbage, they're crazier than I think they are."
Al had just gotten the word. His town, a small Carroll municipality, was about to implement curbside recycling.
That meant he wouldbe required to put his cans, bottles, and newspapers in separate containers from his garbage. Oh, no.
Be prepared to face Al's dilemma. Curbside recycling is coming to your home.
Why? Because curbsideappears to be the only cost-effective way to meet the 15 percent recycling goal the state legislature has mandated for Carroll.
Countygovernment officials have been reluctant to implement curbside recycling because they would just as soon avoid Al's wrath -- and that of other couch potatoes who consider separating their recyclables from their garbage to be too much trouble.
But guess what? As with so many other issues, Carroll countians may just surprise their leaders yet again.
Consider Union Bridge. A town of 920 souls, more or less,snug up against the Frederick County border, Union Bridge has been running a highly successful curbside recycling program since Nov. 1, 1989.
Mayor Ed Williar estimates that just about every one of the town's citizens participates. All they are required to do is place their recyclables-- steel, aluminum, and bimetal cans; glass bottles andjars; plastic containers -- in bags provided by their trash hauler, Haden Trash Removal.
They also bundle newspapers separately. Hadensends two trucks to town on Wednesdays, one to pick up non-recyclable trash, the other to collect recyclables. That way, townspeople set out their waste only once a week.
The results are encouraging: Through December, Union Bridge had recovered 97.68 tons of recyclables, 15.3 percent of the town's total flow of household wastes. And the town had saved $1,020.73 by keeping recyclables out of the landfill. The happy sound of trash being transmuted to cash brings smiles to eventhe most dour puss.
The mayor says the program is "working real good."
Town clerk Kathy Kreimer, who is also a member of the recycling committee, is enthusiastic.
"The average person really takes it to heart. . . . Most really do it," she reports. When they run out of recycling bags, says Kathy, townspeople come to the town hall for replacements because they don't want to lose recyclables.
How doesthe average person really feel?
"Joe Carroll" (not his real name)was born and raised in Union Bridge.
Says Joe, "Overall, people support recycling and don't consider it a hassle, because you don't sort the stuff yourself."
Joe says he feels that sorting aluminum from steel and glass, for example, would turn the townsfolk off. But, Joe notes, folks don't mind separating recyclables from garbage.
Phoenix Recycling Co., a Jack Haden-owned company in Finksburg and a key to the Union Bridge effort, sorts the aluminum from steel and glass, and packages and sells the material.
So far, everyone connected with the Union Bridge project is happy.
Even Haden Trash Removal, which does not turn a profit on the operation because of its small volume, is pleased. Gary Grimes, the company's manager, says the program is going very well, thank you. He and Haden, the company's owner, know that economic viability is a function of the larger volumes of recyclables down the road.
That, of course, is where you come in. Many of you already use the recycling bins located in various spots around the county. You are already converted. Your neighbors may be ready to join the fold. If not, they may react the way Al did at first.
And what of Al? Now that he has seen the light, he loves curbside recycling.
"Hold it, Sonny. Don't flip that can in the trash can. Put it in the recycling bag over there. That's right, Sonny. Waste not, want not."
Al, like so many converts, has become a zealot.
And that's the way it is.
Jeff Griffith, a former county commissioner and school board member, writes a twice-monthly column on topics of concern in Carroll County.