Walt Dennison, Mount Airy's first recipient of the town's business recycler of the month award, admits it: Recycling is hard work.
"I estimate I spend two hours a week on recycling," said Mr. Dennison, who owns Dennison's Trackside Hobbies on Main Street.
"But I estimate I've reduced my trash by 80 percent. I only put out one small bag of trash a week."
The Mount Airy Recycling Commission honored Mr. Dennison at the Town Council meeting Oct. 3.
"He recycles everything he can get his hands on," said Billy Wagner Jr., the councilman who heads the town's sanitation committee. "He was the first person that we thought of . . . ."
The commission established the business recycler of the month award to recognize model recyclers and to encourage more local businesses to recycle.
"We have some [businesses] that aren't really up to snuff with recycling," Mr. Wagner said.
Mr. Dennison, who has owned his model train store for 18 years, became involved in recycling in 1991 when Mount Airy began to participate in Frederick County's office waste recycling program.
The county supplied boxes to Mount Airy businesses to collect office waste paper for recycling. Mr. Dennison became the unofficial coordinator of the volunteer program in town and would take the filled boxes to the recycling center in Frederick county.
"I made sure that the businesses that were participating got new boxes and that the businesses that weren't participating started participating," he said. "I became a central point where people could bring their recyclables."
Mount Airy began its mandatory curbside recycling program two years ago.
Getting into a recycling routine requires time and effort, but Mr. Dennison said it has become a habit.
In the back of his store are two large plastic recycling bins: one for office waste paper and one for plastics, glass and other recyclable materials. The recyclables are picked up every Wednesday as part of Mount Airy's recycling program.
"It's the right thing to do; it helps everybody," Mr. Dennison said. "I think more regular retail businesses could probably do it."
Despite his award, he doesn't consider himself an environmentalist.
"Environmentalists are the people that say you can't cut down a locust tree in your yard, and that I am not," he said.
"I'm just one of the many millions of people who try to do a little to make things better for the next generation."