Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 09.07.05
Stanstead, Quebec


And just where do old dryers go when they die?

Remember the dryer? The one we bought at the garage sale that smelled like dead mouse (or dead something -- could have been a vole)?

We decided to keep it. It sat in the basement unused for the longest time. Even in the early Spring, we were hanging wet clothes over railings and backs of chairs rather than put them through the dryer. No one wanted to be the guinea pig by drying shirts in it for risk they might come out smelling like, well, guinea pig.

Finally, last month, I gave it a shot. I ran a single beach towel through it - one of the kids' towels. (Come on, kids don't care how they smell.) It emerged not entirely April Fresh but no one gagged, so we decided the dryer was a keeper.

That left us with our old dryer. What to do with it?

I tried to get a couple of people to haul it away for scrap but it didn't work out. Finally, tired of dancing around it every time we went into the basement, Deb and I brought it up last week and set it out by the side of the road.

I kept hoping someone would just drive up and take it. In fact, we had a knock on the door one evening from someone asking us if the dryer worked. I could have lied - "Yeah, sure, it just needs a good kick in the side. Oh, and as a bonus, it doesn't smell like anything dead!" - but I told the truth. She didn't take it.

No one did. It just sat there, the perfect eyesore accessory for the front of our house, nicely complementing the bicycles and bubble-blowing equipment strewn about the lawn and this year's two unsuccessful hanging baskets that look like Addams Family horticultural prizes.

Last Wednesday, I came home from work and found the garbage had been picked up and the dryer gone.

I was somewhat surprised. If I was a garbage collector and you asked me to hoist a major household appliance into my truck, I'd say "Fat chance" (or blue-collar words to that effect). Or if I did, I wouldn't be happy and might "accidentally" break a bag of garbage all over your lawn. But no, into the truck it apparently went. I wasn't home so I don't know if it involved any cussin'.

Now I'm wracked with garbage guilt. That's a chunk of landfill. Do you know how long it takes a dryer to decompose? Probably about as long as a washer, and that's a long time.

I can rationalize this. Those of us with a green streak (in my case, slightly chartreuse) rationalize that making environmental compromises is the price of living in the country where we simply don't have all the services of the city.

Sherbrooke, for instance, recycles everything from grocery bags to greasy pizza boxes. Plus they have large-item garbage pickups a couple of times a year. Then again, Sherbrooke also has Deauville.

I hate creating waste. I sometimes imagine going a full day without producing a single scrap: I'd tidily recycle the toilet-paper rolls as always. I'd pick up my groceries in recyclable paper bags. I'd purchase meat wrapped in butcher paper, which I could then, um, burn I guess (a little smoke isn't really producing garbage).

I'd make, let's see, little dollhouse windows out of the cheese-slice plastic wrap. That busted Power Ranger toy? Yeah, sure, that's recyclable, eh? And the dryer would… uh, the dryer would… become an exercise wheel for rabbits?

Ultimately, there is no getting around the fact that we are a consumer society good at creating matter, not so hot at disposing of it. Really, there's only one sure-fire way to get rid of your garbage: hold a garage sale, which is how we got into this mess in the first place.