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One man's trash in another man's... trash

It's a matter of two steps forward, three steps back. Just when it seems we're making a little progress in cleaning up the county, some folks spoil it by taking a giant step backward.

It's a matter of two steps forward, three steps back. Just when it seems we're making a little progress in cleaning up the county, some folks spoil it by taking a giant step backward.

This week, the Carlton County Board approved a rare decrease in the fee to drop off and recycle appliances at the county transfer station, thanks to a competitively low bid submitted to the county for 2008 by an appliance recycling company. That's good news, not only for residents but for the county in general. Hopefully, the rate cut will make it more affordable and attractive for folks to drop off their unneeded and/or non-working appliances.

In addition, the Fond du Lac Reservation has set up a convenient collection site along Reservation Road for enrollees to drop off their trash, which is then transported to the county transfer station.

A couple of weeks ago, the county also realized a cost savings in the recycling of electronics and passed it along to residents, primarily due to the fact electronics manufacturers are now legally bound to assist in the expense of disposal.

Once again that's a boon to all of us, given the fact we now live in a largely "disposable society" where computers and other electronic equipment is antiquated almost as soon as you get it out of the box.

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But in the face of all of this progress, it's discouraging to hear there are still those out there who insist on taking the easy - and irresponsible - way out by illegally dumping their trash wherever they can get by with it.

For example, a call came in to the Pine Journal office just this week reporting that a batch of carpet samples had been dumped near the roadway along White Pine Trail, inside the city limits of Cloquet. Sadly, this wasn't the first time dumping had occurred there. Offenders have illegally dropped off furniture, brush and other garbage, leaving them for others to either have to live with, or dispose of themselves. That's not an isolated occurrence. The county highway department reports they are forced to bring in truckloads of illegally dumped items, which must then be disposed of at the expense of the taxpayers.

The cost to drop off an entire truckload of trash at the county transfer station is less than $20, or about three cents per pound. Private garbage haulers are also willing to make arrangements to pick up larger items for a nominal charge if you have no way to transport them yourself.

The price to be paid for illegally dumping garbage is far higher. Why would anyone be foolhardy enough to even consider it?

It just doesn't add up.

Wendy Johnson

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