MPT takes dirty look at garbage Carroll family takes part in film

August 25, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Donna Lentino confessed to her Carroll Community Church Bible study group that she was involved in making a "trashy" film at her Westminster house.

But nothing lurid was being filmed inside the white house perched atop a hill in the Peppermint Park subdivision near Sandymount. All the trashy action took place on the driveway yesterday, where a Maryland Public Television crew filmed a local trash hauler dumping about 7,000 pounds of garbage as the Lentinos watched.

The Lentinos invited MPT to use their home for the shot, which may be included in a one-hour documentary entitled "Down in the Dumps: America's Garbage Crisis." The documentary, scheduled to air in January, will attempt to provide a comprehensive view of the nation's solid waste disposal problems and analyze controversial solutions, such as waste-to-energy burning.

Producer Ken Day said the shot demonstrates the amount of trash that the average household of five produces in one year. Mr. Day said MPT based the shot on the federal Environmental Protection Agency's estimate that one person generates about four pounds of trash daily -- or about 7,300 pounds annually for a family of five, such as the Lentinos. MPT set up the segment by placing a stationary camera in the Lentinos' kitchen for 24 hours and recording on film every time a family member threw something away. That scene will be shown at high speed and condensed into about 40 seconds of action, Mr. Day said.

The Lentinos -- Donna, 38; father, Lynn, 39; and children Danielle, 10, Andrea, 8, and Michael, 5 -- couldn't contain their laughter as the S&B Hauling Inc. garbage truck spread its 52-residence morning haul of trash bags, boxes, yard waste and furniture -- about 25 yards long and three to four feet high -- along the driveway. Much of the waste was recyclables.

The host of the documentary, NBC's Scott Simon, interviewedthe family about their trash habits.

"We're happy victims," said Mrs. Lentino, adding that a friend who works at MPT recommended the family for the segment.

"I have a difficult time relating to things in very large numbers," she said. "To see it, I think, will make a very big impact. It's not sensationalism. It's educational."

Mr. and Mrs. Lentino said they weren't worried about messing up their lawn -- S&B workers cleaned up the load after the shoot -- but they didn't inform their neighbors to avoid attracting a crowd and possible complaints.

"It didn't sound like we'd be terribly embarrassed or humiliated," said Mr. Lentino, an engineer at Black & Decker in Towson. "Like most Americans, we're conscious about recycling and starting to do alittle, but not as much as we could."

Mr. and Mrs. Lentino said the shoot was a good opportunity for their children to learn about the effects of being wasteful and how films are made.

Joe Gover, owner of S&B, said he thought he'd be featured on "America's Funniest Videos" when Mr. Day called with the request.

"Not many people are willing to have trash dumped in their yard," Mr. Gover said. His company, which launched a recycling operation about a year before Carroll County required it, regularly serves the Lentinos.

"People ought to learn a lot about slowing down the trash they put out and find other things to do with it, which is kind of putting ourselves out of business," he said.

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