Patricia Bailey, a Harford County reading teacher, helped with recycling drives and other environmental awareness activities for her students to mark last spring's Earth Day celebration. Her husband, Robert, a supervisor for the county parks department, helped design a T-shirt used to promote a county Earth Day celebration.
With all the attention to saving the planet, the Churchville family looked inward.
"We decided it was time we started recycling ourselves," says Patricia Bailey, who teaches at Darlington Elementary.
Now the Baileys, who regularly save used plastic milk jugs, newspapers and other reusable material, say they have reduced their garbage by about one-third.
"I'm surprised how fast the recycling can fills up," Patricia Bailey says. "All that stuff would be going out on the curb [as trash]."
They take the material to the Susquehannock Environmental Center recycling station near Bel Air, which ships it to companies that process it for reuse.
The center is one of a growing number of drop-off stations in Maryland. In addition, by Jan. 1, about 750,000 Marylanders are expected to be served by curbside recycling programs.
Many families in the Baltimore area got the recycling bug around Earth Day last spring, when news media were awash in tales of how people could help save finite resources and landfill space.
Just a year or so ago, throwing out one's trash, for most people, was not an exercise that merited much thought. But, for the Baileys and others, recycling has become a family affair.
Even children are learning to recycle at tender ages. Four-year-old Robbie Bailey "knows that when we are finished with a milk jug, we put it up on the counter and not in the trash," his mother says.
She hopes that, by exposing her son to the practice, it will become second nature to him. Some kids love to flatten plastic soda bottles or old cans. Robbie loves to go to the recycling center with his parents to watch conveyors, fork lifts and other machinery prepare old newspapers to be turned into animal bedding or cereal boxes, and old plastic containers to be made eventually into carpet.
"We really try to make the children aware," Patricia Bailey says. But, "I think sometimes the children teach the parents."