Sunday, July 10, 2016

The New England Dump: A Tightly Held Tradition

It wasn't till after we moved into our home here in the quiet New England town of Hopkinton, New Hampshire that we discovered there was no trash service.  Dismayed and shocked, I learned we would have to manage disposing of our family of four's refuse, including the diapers of two babes.

The learning curve was steep.  Before getting rid of the enormous amounts of trash a trans-Atlantic move produces, we had to purchase a permit to visit the "transfer station" aka town dump and buy the right trash bags at the local grocery store (the way it is paid for), not to mention figuring out and buying interim trash receptacles for garbage and the many different types of recycling facilitated at the dump.  I had to learn what was recyclable and how (you need to wash everything before it's added to various recycling piles) and learn to pack the car so that I got to various trash items in order.

Each different section is for different types of recyclables - eleven different types all told within the dump, plus sub-types.
Then there is the incinerator at the end.

I was doubly shocked to learn that the town dump was a closely held New England tradition, and the place where many candidates campaigned (it acting as a town forum).

But now I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love being required to pay attention to what I am throwing away, knowing I or my husband will have to heft it into the car, then into the incinerator at the dump. I carefully think through what can be recycled and how.  Each week, it is rather fulfilling to be able to put all trash in its appropriate spot and start again with an empty slate - or can.  (Rather symbolic from a religious perspective, but that's a topic for another time...)

Beyond all this trash-talk, people will leave things in various areas of the dump they would otherwise take to a charity shop.  Used toys, games, ribbons, ski equipment, gardening equipment, and clothes are left by the incinerator.  Used and unsold furniture (from shops) is left by the wood section. Then in the paper recycling section, people will set aside books and egg cartons for those raising chickens.  In the metal section, there is camping equipment and one time an iron folding blue bed I loved and brought home, currently installed in our upstairs guest room.  There is so much stuff that town volunteers, along with dump employees, have put together a separate "swap shop" trailer so that the used items otherwise thrown away at the end of each day are organized by wonderful volunteers and made available to those who might like them.

the wood section, where chairs and tables are pulled to the side by our thoughtful dump ladies.

Bric-a-brac left by the incinerator.  Today there was an easter basket, crucifix, picture, cookbook, toaster oven, and heater.

our town "swap shop," where everything is free!
Besides all of the goodies available at the "Hopkinton Mall," the best part of the dump are the women who run it.  These ladies are tough, operating all of the dump's heavy machinery, but also thoughtful.  The organization and careful placement of items (pulling it out of a pile) is done by our wonderful dump ladies, who will keep a list of wanted items by town members, who they then call and let them know they have found what they were looking for.  After accidentally throwing away Gideon's wooden carved trains he got for Christmas, I left a desperate message before the dump opened the next day.  I thought it was a lost cause, but when I returned after being gone for a while and checked in with dump management, much to my surprise, I found the trains.  These women had dumpster dived for my son's benefit, and I will always love them for it.  I know I'm not the only one who has benefited from their kindness (and grit!).

I don't know why, but I'm always so impressed with all the machines these ladies drive and handle as pros!

Magazines, books, and egg cartons left for people to browse.  I've gotten great antique classics this way.
Small Wonders


I made a little IG and FB announcement this week - can you guess what it is from this pic?

I was told we won something in the parade, but don't know what!

Made by yours truly.  Love me some strawberry rhubarb goodness.

Although this picture would make you think it, keeping two toddlers up way past their bedtime to see fireworks = definitely not worth it!

G &E go their own copies of the Book of Mormon in nursery last Sunday.  They were THRILLED. One morning, G insisted on turning every page of his Book of Mormon before he ate his breakfast. (BTW, that's a "what does the fox say T-shirt")

One of our favorite farms, Carter Hill Orchards, with its amazing communal playground and toys.

Circumnavigated the playground then parked all 8 of them...

town pond.

Picking clover for Chloe, who is becoming a very picky bunny!

Turns out G isn't the only puzzler!


  1. Or you can pay All Clear to take your trash for about $100/quarter and take recycles to Concord, where there is zero-sort and they never check for a town sticker :) Do it on a trip to Hannaford.

  2. The info you provided in the blog that was really unique I love it!!!
    Gardening Oxford