One year ago, most people thought little of chucking all their trash into their plastic-lined garbage cans.
Now, they sort metal, glass and plastic into bags to be carted to one of the 10 bright-red bins parked throughout the county.
A stellar year for the environment in Carroll County and nationwide, 1990 started with grass-roots planning for the international Earth Day celebration April 21. Residents filled Piney Run Park that day, singing songs and having a big party to celebrate the planet under sunny blue skies.
Trying to make every day an Earth Day, the residents involved in the Piney Run Park celebration went on to form an independent organization called Carroll Earth Care, to promote awareness and protection of the environment.
Meanwhile, Carroll and other counties submitted plans by July 1 to the state for how they would meet a mandated goal of recycling 15 percent to 20 percent of their solid waste by January 1994.
The Carroll Commissioners created the new Department of Natural Resources Protection and hired James E. Slater in May to head it. The department brings together solid waste, recycling, water management and a new storm water management bureau to monitor the soil erosion that can accompany land development.
Private business leadership came from Jackson Haden, who opened Phoenix Recycling, Carroll's first and the state's largest operation to handle recyclables. Haden takes materials from the county's red bins and from residents, then sorts, bales and sells them to manufacturers or other industries that process them.
What's black and white and spread over the barn? Newspaper.
With some urging from the county and the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, some of Carroll's more adventuresome farmers are shredding newspapers into cattle bedding -- and the cows like it, farmers say. When the bedding gets changed, the old, matted shreds get mixed with manure and are composted into fertilizer.
Silver Run residents moved into action last fall when the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency finally came up with a $9 million plan to clean up Keystone Landfill, just over the border in Union Township, Pa.
State officials there first discovered contamination of the surrounding ground water in 1984.
Susan Hardinger, president of People Against Contamination of the Environment, led her Silver Run neighbors in a successful plea to the EPA to test more of their drinking wells for possible contamination from the landfill.
"It has definitely been a year of the most action -- the most positive action -- toward eventually restoring the community," Hardinger said. "But there's still a whole lot to be done."