GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - From the look of several trailers at Singing River Mall Saturday afternoon, you might think there was a massive paint project underway. Workers carried cans of paint, holding every color imaginable, loading them into massive vessels.
Just one day earlier, those cans were lying unused in garages, utility rooms, and basements all over Jackson County. Residents flocked to Singing River Mall to get rid of them. And with the help of Jackson County and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, residents were doing it the safe way.
"I knew it would be a big turnout, but this is phenomenal," volunteer Ann Dauer said. "It's even larger than I expected. The line [of cars] is wrapped all the way around the mall. And people were lining up at 7am. It's a great thing."
Dauer and many other volunteers helped route traffic at the Jackson County Hazardous Waste Collection Day. They collected old paint, cleaning products, motor oil, and other potentially hazardous items that are lying around South Mississippi homes. Most of them will be recycled.
"I think more people are taking it more seriously," Dauer said. "They're looking at the things they have at home, and that's why they're here."
Most of the items may not seem intimidating, but they have some hidden dangers.
"Anything they dump out the window, it's going into the soil, and it's going to contaminate the soil and the ground water," said Brad Ratcliff with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. "And we've only got so much water to use."
Vancleave resident Karin Ashley worries about it. She grew up in Germany, and says she's shocked at America's trashy habits.
"You see so much garbage beside the road, and so much hazardous stuff," she said. "I think they would look a little bit more into the future. I mean they have children, they have grandchildren. Don't they want to live in a place that's green and clean, and they don't have to worry?"
She's glad local government is stepping up to the plate to help people dispose of their waste properly.
"I think it's a good idea, I like it," Ashley said. "I wish it would be more often than just once or twice a year."
She said recycling potentially hazardous items gives her peace of mind that she's helping preserve the world for years to come.
"I know that when I'm gonna leave here, my children will have a nice place to live too, and not running around with gas masks."