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Philip Maramba: Make your trash look respectable

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - While maybe we should be more focused on digging ourselves out of our hoarding ways, our family is still doing its best to recycle.

We're especially glad the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority's contractor, West Virginia Recycling Services, has begun accepting glass again, thus sparing my wife and me a secret shame.

Back when the county's facility stopped taking glass, we would take our refuse to the local Target store, which has a companywide commitment to recycling not only glass, plastic and metal, but also odd disposables like used ink jet printer cartridges, mp3 players and cellphones.

This got us through the dark days following the closure and revised collections of the Slack Street center. We were glad not to be sending our empties to a landfill if we could help it.

With the city picking up paper, plastic and metal from the curb, other recyclables like cardboard and glass would have to wait until we could drop them off on our own.

Given the infrequency of our recycling runs, sometimes we could go for weeks between visits. This meant we would have good-sized bags full of flattened boxes or clattering jars and bottles to deposit.

Recycling cardboard was the same as always: just dump it by the bagful into the container at Slack Street.

When it came to the glass, though, we had to devise a strategy by which we could break down our reserve into discreet parcels that didn't draw a lot of attention - or make a lot of noise - in the store.

This became a concern because in Target's recent remodeling, it moved its trash-can sized recycling receptacles away from the customer service area to a spot within view of the checkout line. Seemed like a lot of eyes to watch what we were dropping off.

A recent visit with my son was uneventful because while we were taking in two shopping bags full of beer and wine bottles, they were in tidy white Target bags.

A week later, the boy and I skulked in with unmatched sacks from two other area retailers. We didn't look like we could have been, say, just returning merchandise.

No, it looked like a man enlisting his little boy to help disguise the fact that Daddy was bringing in two shopping bags full of empty alcohol containers.

It didn't mitigate matters that I allowed the boy to "help" by dropping the second bag into the receptacle. He released it gracelessly atop the bag I'd carefully placed into the empty bin for maximum, checkout-line-attention-getting clinkage.

A number of customers craned their necks to see where the clatter came from. And there we were. Oh, well.

The only saving grace was that one bag had two wine bottles amid its collection of beer empties and the other held a bottle that had contained olive oil - organic, no less - to go with its squad of dead lager soldiers. Wine and olive oil are classy, right?

With the change in policy at the county recycling center, we no longer have to make our garbage look presentable, so I'm grateful to our public servants for their vision and wisdom.

At the risk of seeming ungrateful, though, I would like one other favor.

Weekend mornings can be pretty full. By the time we get to thinking about recycling, the Slack Street facility is closed. (That's noon on Saturdays.) I wonder if they'd consider staying open until 5?

Contact writer Philip Maramba at or 304-348-1248.

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