At last December’s groundbreaking for the library expansion, Selectman Cindy Mitchell said that the library was the heart of West Tisbury. If she’s right, West Tisbury has at least two hearts. The other one is the Dumptique — the recycling shed at the West Tisbury dump.
Oh yeah, I forgot. We’re not supposed to call it a dump anymore. It’s not even a landfill. It’s a transfer station. What the hell, we still go to the dump.
The Dumptique was closed during February, during which time super-volunteer Martina Mastromonaco almost singlehandedly renovated the place, cleaning, painting, reorganizing. You remember February, don’t you? Several snowstorms, lots of sub-freezing days, winds whipping round corners and through walls? The Dumptique is not what you’d call air-tight. It’s air-conditioned in winter, heated in summer — ecologically correct to be sure, but short on creature comforts for the stalwart volunteers.
I missed the grand opening last weekend because I’m training to be a mediator and the training ran 8:30 to 5 both Saturday and Sunday. Tuesday is a dump day in West Tisbury, so yesterday afternoon I went down to drop off some stuff and check out the new look.
The day was dreary but the Dumptique was bright and busy with townsfolk browsing and volunteers sorting incoming donations. The clothing racks would do credit to a department store, and there’s even a well-stocked little library where bibliophiles can hunt for their next book fix.
As a New Englander born and bred, I grew up with recycling, although we didn’t call it that. When you had to spend money, you bought the best you could afford and you used it till it fell apart. If it outlasted its usefulness, you passed it on.
Martha’s Vineyard is New England squared, and when you factor in the high cost of living and the relatively low median income, you see why recycling isn’t just a virtue; it’s a survival skill. Everything at the Dumptique is free for the taking. If you’ve ever done any taking, as most of us have, you don’t think of donating anything you wouldn’t be willing to wear or use. Some donors aren’t so conscientious: they’ll bring in a bag of clothing with the good stuff on top and the junk on the bottom. The volunteers go through it all and reject the unwearables and unusables.
Once in a while a would-be donor objects: How dare you reject this dirty, ripped, and/or broken thing?
Because this is the Dumptique, not the dump: that’s why. In all six island towns, you pay to dispose of your trash but there’s no charge for recyclables. Some people will try to pass the former off as the latter, to save a few bucks.
The volunteers volunteer more than their time. Sometimes they take clothes home to wash them. Sometimes paint and other supplies aren’t donated and have to be paid for. So if you’re moved to put a bill or two in the box, they’ll probably be able to make good use of it.