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Recycler makes sure nothing goes to waste
Weeding is a never-ending process at the Water-wise Park in Missoula. Madeline Mazurski is always ready with a trowel, if she can find time.
Photo by JAY ERICSON/for the Missoulian

Woman's carport is neighborhood recycling center

Eighty-three-year-old Allison Easterling works hard stuffing her carport full of recyclables. Every day, she adds to the pile.

Garbage cans line the carport, wall-to-wall, end-to-end. One side is full of flattened plastic milk jugs, another contains aluminum cans, and still another contains cardboard. Old newspapers lie in piles between the cans. Squeezed into the middle of it all is Easterling's Chinook camper, also stuffed with cardboard.

Friends and family bring their recyclables to her Dixon Avenue home every week. Sometimes her carport fills up so quickly that she has to make unscheduled trips to the recycling center.

"My home is the organizing area," Easterling said. "Neighbors around here drop stuff off sometimes. So do members of Kappa Delta and my weekly hiking group, Wednesday's Outdoor Women."

Easterling loves to recycle. She recycles everything she can get her hands on, whether it pays to do so or not.

Some things, like plastic milk jugs, she recycles because she knows they're hard on the environment.

"I recycle plastic just because there's so much of it and it doesn't break down so well in the landfill," Easterling said. "There's so much throwaway plastic, you see it lying along the roadside everywhere."

She even goes so far as to line her garbage can with newspapers. "That way there's no plastic in it," she said. "I'll tell ya', this throwaway plastic just drives me crazy."

"I didn't really start recycling until the beginning of the 1970s," Easterling said. "My roommate in California started recycling glass and got me started. A few months later, I moved to Montana and have been recycling ever since."

Easterling recycles paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastic milk jugs, steel cans and any other scrap metal she can lay her hands on. She stockpiles it at her home until she gets a station wagon load, then takes it to the recycling center.

The proceeds go to the YWCA Battered Women's Shelter in the name of her old University of Montana sorority group, Kappa Delta.

"I've even got some copper out in my shed I found somewhere," she said. "It's a bunch of strips about a yard long, the size of pencil lead. It looks so beautiful hanging on my shed, though, I don't want to get rid of it."

Sometimes, as she walks through her neighborhood, she'll find some recyclable stuff and lug it home.

"I could work at that a lot harder," she said, "but I'll carry home what I can."

"When we're out hiking," Easterling said, "we'll pick the aluminum cans that we see and pack them out." The group also picks knapweed, dandelions and other weeds while hiking.

One friend, Eileen Evans, can't bring her recyclables to Easterling's because she doesn't drive - never has - so Easterling drives to her home about once a week and picks up aluminum and newspaper.

"While I was picking her stuff up the other day, the people across the alley had some stuff out so we took that too," she said, laughing.

"The newspapers recently went from one cent to two cents a pound," Easterling said. "So you can really do pretty well on the newspapers, but you've got to wait until there's a load. I wait until there's 400 pounds at least."

"I don't know how Allison does it," said longtime friend Lois Dodge. "I feel I've worked hard just saving my stuff and taking it over to her house."

"I continue to recycle simply because it ought to be done," Easterling said. "A lot of people are too damn lazy to do anything about it. They just can't be bothered. But I've got the time.

"One of my philosophies in life is 'waste not, want not,' " she said. "My temperament just naturally goes in that direction.

"I used to say I wasn't afraid of overpopulation so much as I was afraid of the world being buried under its own garbage," Easterling said. "But now I'm afraid of both: I'm still afraid of the garbage, and the population's getting pretty bad too."

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