BGnews_logoTurf Management Goes Green

The Kentlands community in Gaithersburg is moving toward organic landscaping, an effort to reduce chemical application options and provide a healthy environment for pets and children.

Kentlands is consulting with Paul Tukey, an organic landscaping expert, who envisions maintaining at least 50 percent of the landscape organically by 2015.

Roger Ford, a member of the Kentlands group that is overseeing the project, said, “If [Tukey] does it right, I think it’s going to be a showcase for Montgomery County and beyond.”

For more details, see article in The Town Courier.

Going Green on your way to College

Go Green without breaking your bank! Here are some tips to go green and save money for the school year.

  • Re-use textbooks — Re-using textbooks is a great way to save paper and it also reduces the amount of junk we have to dispose later on. Some websites such as SwapTree.com, PaperBackSwap.com, and Bookins.com let you swap books with others.
  • Do your laundry in cold water — In the warm seasons, you can save tons of energy by washing clothes in cold water. By washing clothes in cold water, you decrease your electricity usage which is required to heat the water. This reduces your overall carbon footprint.
  • Recycle your cell phones — Instead of discarding your old phones in favor of a new and updated one, recycle your phones because certain small parts of the phones can be used for other items.
  • Shop at thrift shops — You can find just about any item in a thrift store and they are usually extremely cheap. Also instead of throwing away your clothes, think about donating them to a thrift store so other people can enjoy it for a much cheaper price.
  • Keep indoor plants — Keep a small plant inside your house near a window. It is an efficient way to release more oxygen into the air, therefore purifying it. Perfect for your health and environment.
  • Go to the farmers market — Make sure you go to the farmers market or any local market! It is a great place to get fresh and good quality food. It also promotes local farmers and produce.

To find out about more tips, check out this article.

Debating Metro fare increases

In setting fares for the Metro public transportation system, the Metro board attempts to balance the the goal of providing the best possible service on it trains, buses, and vans for their riders and how to minimize the impact of fare increases on its customers, especially among those who are financially vulnerable and depend on public transportation.

A recent Dr. Gridlock column in the Washington Post helps frame the debate and concludes that it’s not solely the job of the Metro board to reconcile the issue:

“Helping other people get around is the right thing to do, whether it involves aiding a rider on a platform or assisting the needy in covering their transit costs. The benefits bounce back. Ensuring that people can get to their jobs and medical appointments boosts the economy and enhances the general welfare. That’s a task for the entire region — its governments, social service agencies and individuals. The transit authority can’t fine-tune its fares well enough to achieve this goal.”

Events

  • Environmental Film Festival — March 18-30, at numerous DC-area venues. The theme of the 2014 Festival — Our Cities, Our Planet — will examine the challenges posed by Earth’s urban environments and the efforts of the world’s cities to balance environmental and economic needs.
  • Montgomery County Business Recycling Seminar — Thursday, March 27, 9 am – noon, Silver Spring Civic Center. Meet county staff and get all your recycling questions answered.
  • Wheaton Green Drinks — Thursday, March 27, 5-8 pm at Limerick Pub.
  • Rock Creek Extreme Cleanup — Saturday, April 5, 9 am – noon. Join Rock Creek Conservancy for its 6th annual volunteer cleanup event.

 

bggreennews_logo11Want To Do Something About Climate Change?
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is organizing a series of public events drawing attention to proposals to transport liquified natural gas thru Maryland. Click here for details.

County Leading the Charge in Electric Vehicles
According to the Gazette, “Businesses across the county have been working to make it more convenient for the growing number of electric vehicle drivers to find a place to plug in and charge up, with about 15 percent of Maryland’s electric car charging stations now in Montgomery County.” Click here to see article.

Healthier Food in Schools
Seeking to find out why and how school food should be made more healthy, Real Food for Kids-Montgomery and Montgomery Victory Gardens recently hosted a community forum to get some answers. Click here for the Gazette’s coverage of the event. 

MD’s New Lawn Fertilizer Law Kicks in this Week
Maryland’s newly enacted Lawn Fertilizer Law prohibits the use of fertilizer products containing nitrogen or phosphorus during cold weather months. Click here for details.

Mow, Don’t Rake Leaves
While there’s still a few weeks left before the trees shed all their leaves, consider mowing your leaves into a healthy mulch for your yard. More 

Events

  • Bethesda Central Farm Market — Open Sundays, 9 am – 1 pm at the Bethesda Elementary School parking lot on Arlington Road, at the corner of Wilson Lane and Old Georgetown Road.
  • Support DC Greenworks — Wednesday, Nov. 20, 5 – 10 pm, 20 percent of sales at Le Grenier Restaurant, 502 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002 will support DC Greenworks’ stormwater mitigation and green job training services in the District. More
  • Poultry Fair Share Town Hall Forum — Organized by Food & Water Watch, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 6 – 7 pm,  6810 Eastern Ave NW, Takoma Park, DC. More detail here
  • Greening Your Retail Business — Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2 – 4 pm, All Eco Center, 2662 University Blvd, Wheaton, MD. Free seminar organized by GreenWheaton.  More 

by Alison Wentzell

Free Lending Libraries Help Create Neighborhood BondsBGnews_logo

The burgeoning global literary movement has spread to the District with the help of Philip Vahab, who created a small library on his front lawn.  The library is just a small wooden model of a house that he put on a post and filled with his wife’s old books.  Then he noticed that his mini-library became remarkably popular, so much so, that he started seeing visitors from other communities throughout the DC Metro area.

You’re probably wondering about the environmental aspect of these literary boxes.  Simply put, they could kick start a movement toward creating more sustainable communities.  Whether or not Vahab realizes it, he’s doing more than promoting community interaction and literacy.  The libraries allow people to get books that they might have otherwise bought from a bookstore and donate books that they might have just thrown out or left cluttering their shelves.  Also, since the lending libraries cater to neighborhoods, people can easily walk to the box in their area to pick out a new book rather than driving to a library or bookstore.

In addition, the libraries forge a community bond, which can promote overall sustainability.  People who have libraries on their lawns have noticed the formation of greater bonding with their community.  For example, neighbors are more inclined to share household items or form carpools.

For more information, check out the Washington Post article here.

Chevy Chase’s Western Grove Urban Park to be Urban Oasis

In 2001 Montgomery County purchased the newly named Western Grove Urban Park near the Friendship Heights Metro.  The project is expected to cost around $1 million to develop, with an annual operating budget of $55,000.  The lot is set to become a 1.9 acre “urban oasis” that will feature lighted brick paths, gardens, a natural play area, moveable furniture, and Wi-Fi access.  Designed to keep an open garden quality, it is the first of this kind of urban park in Montgomery County.

For more information check out the article on Gazette.net.

Events

  • BG 101, Sept. 25, 4-5:30 PM, Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Join Bethesda Green for their regular orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events, and volunteer opportunities.

  • Bethesda Green Luncheon Speaker Series,  Sept. 26, 12-1:30 PM Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Learn about Montgomery County’s new Green Investor Incentive Program from presenter Peter Bang, Montgomery County Department of Economic Development.  This FREE seminar discussion will address who is a qualified company or investor, amount of investment, and the application process.  Register here.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

by Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Recent anti-pesticide laws enacted by local jurisdictions have moved members of the Montgomery County Council to examine the county’s current pesticide practices, both public and private facility management and lawn care/landscaping services, but not in farming or agricultural land uses.

DC’s Pesticide Education and Control Amendment Act was passed unanimously in August 2012. It restricts non-essential “cosmetic” pesticides from all government-owned property and restricts the use of pesticides on private property around schools and child-occupied facilities and properties next to waterways.

In July 2013, Takoma Park, MD City Council passed unanimously “Safe Grow Act of 2013,” which restricts the use of certain pesticides on all city-owned and private property within the City.

Residents in DC and Takoma Park – Julie Taddeo and Catherine Cummings – brought their concerns to their respective council members about the health risks and exposure to pesticides, especially to young children, as there is a growing amount of research linking early exposure to synthetic pesticides and childhood leukemias and cancers. (See Policy Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics.)

In the Kentlands neighborhood in Gaithersburg, the community is considering alternatives to synthetic pesticides currently used in the common landscaped areas after concerned residents brought up health risks to exposure of these synthetic pesticides that are applied every fall and spring.  In 2011, the Kentlands Citizens Assembly voted to stop spraying pesticides in tot-lots due to residents’ concerns of pesticide exposure to children. The other concern is that the pesticides also run off into the local Muddy Branch stream and that local drinking water health suffers.

A pesticide is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for: preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests. Under United States law, a pesticide is also any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.”

Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal, who chairs the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, requested a discussion and presentation on September 9 at the Council’s Transportation, Energy and Environment Committee to inform the Council members about the county’s current practices, to hear testimony from Takoma Park and DC legislators, and to hear from people that are for and against local legislation.

So, what comes next?

Keith Levchenko, Senior Legislative Analyst for Montgomery County Council says that, “Currently, no legislation has been introduced at the County Council.  Council member Roger Berliner, Chairman of the T&E Committee, announced at the T&E discussion that he is considering introducing pesticide legislation.  If legislation is introduced, then a public hearing and committee discussion specific to the bill will be scheduled.”

Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin is the founder of Green Gaithersburg, a member of the newly formed Chesapeake Greens Collaborative, a coalition of environmentally friendly organizations that promotes sustainability and sound environmental practices in our communities.

BRT photoby Kelly Blynn

As we’re all well aware, our area suffers some of the worst congestion in the nation. According to the Census, we waste 20 more minutes every day in traffic, away from family and home, than any other region in the country. Congestion makes our air pollution among the worst in the country; and an ever-increasing threat to the health and well-being of children and the elderly. The major challenge is that our current transportation infrastructure simply cannot handle the current and projected number of cars on the road. In the coming years, Montgomery County will add more than 200,000 new residents, and the same number of jobs.

That’s why Montgomery County has looked to plans for a Rapid Transit System, based on successful bus rapid transit systems from around the nation. The best way to describe the Rapid Transit System is a high quality transit system that operates like Metrorail on rubber tires.

This summer, the Montgomery County Planning Board passed a draft plan for a 79-mile system, entitled the Countywide Transit Corridors Functional Master Plan, and this fall that same plan will go to the County Council for consideration. Now is the time to learn more about this plan, and get involved.  Luckily, there’s a new video to get up to speed about the basics of the project:

Clearly, we must do something to find a better way to get to and from home, work, and school. Building new roads is too costly, too harmful to our neighborhoods, and won’t solve the problem. Investing in transit is the best option we have to provide high-quality, affordable transportation options, clean up our air, and improve our quality of life.

To get more involved in this project, sign up to testify at the upcoming public hearings on September 24 and 26, or visit www.nextgentransit.org for upcoming educational events.

Kelly Blynn is the Campaign Manager for the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s Next Generation of Transit Campaign. A former international campaigner at the climate change organization 350.org, she believes in thinking globally while acting locally, and she is now working hard to organize with communities for sustainable and equitable transportation in the Washington, DC region.

by Alison Wentzell

Builders, County Disagree on Tree Canopy Legislation

BGnews_logoLegislation passed by Montgomery County Council last week requires builders to provide 50 percent tree canopy coverage on lots they develop.  The new law essentially triples the amount of trees builders had proposed providing and applies to all lots in Montgomery County, not just developing lots.

County data suggests that only one in three trees planted would be able to survive into adulthood.  However, builders argue that approximately 85% of trees planted survive into adulthood and even more trees survive when they are being cared for on private property.

Read the full article from the Gazette here.

Individual Action Encouraged at Climate Change Town Hall

A town hall meeting held in Silver Spring by Organization For Action encouraged residents to start taking a more active role in addressing climate change.  About 500 residents attended the four-hour meeting.

Leaders from organizations such as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) and the Maryland Clean Energy Center encouraged action on the individual, communal, and national levels to push the United States into becoming a leader in environmental action.

Presenters discussed way to push for policy change in Congress by showing the linkage between health issues and environmental stewardship.  CCAN Director Mike Tidwell said, “We don’t need to invent anything; all we need is more policy.  The fossil-fuel industry is allowed to treat our atmosphere as a sewer.”

Check out the full story from the Gazette here.

Upcoming Events

  • Caleva Dirty Dinners: A Farm to Table Series, August 24th, 6-9 PM, Calleva Farm, 19120 Martinsburg Road, Dickerson MD.

Come out to Calleva Farms and enjoy a delicious meal that has been grown and prepared on site.  Meals include wine, festive music, and non-alcoholic “mocktails.”  Make your reservation and find out more info at http://www.DirtyDinners.org.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.

by Alison Wentzellbggreennews_logo11

New Program Helps Montgomery County Establish More Farms

These days becoming a successful new farmer is hard, but as the demand for local food increases so has the need for local farms.  Recognizing this new market, Montgomery County’s Green Economy Task Force proposed the implementation of the New Farmer Pilot Project.  The project will support new farmers as they establish themselves in the county.

The project provides new farmers with the education and resources that they will need to become a well-established farm.  The program offers a variety of classes ranging from business planning to soil management, which are open to all those who wish to attend.  Once applicants are chosen, the system operates like a dating service.  Farmers and landowners are matched up with potential landowners and mentors, and then they can decide if they want to meet.  The New Farmer Pilot Project helps new and old farmers to build the necessary relationships they need to succeed.  Click here to see the Washington Post article with more information.

New Wetland in Waldorf Provides Habitat for Ducks

The students and faculty at Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School in Waldorf came together last Wednesday to build an 8.5 acre wetland behind the school.  The project was lead by Brown Elementary teacher Jack Belle, who had always been inspired to use the area behind the school to create a pond that could be used to teach kids about ecosystems and the environment.  With the help of his students and over $3 million dollars from the local and federal government, he was able to make his dream a reality.  Students planted thousands of plants and created a habitat for a variety of living organisms, including a flock of ducks that now have an appropriate nesting ground.  Generations of students will be able to use these wetlands to not only learn about earth systems and the role they play in our lives, but to build a stronger relationship with nature that will hopefully inspire them to act in a more environmentally conscious way throughout their lives.

For the full article in the Washington Post click here.  

Solar Panels To Be Installed on Dozens of Buildings

In 2009 the town of Chevy Chase approached the county seeking permission to put solar panels on the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center roof.  Since then the project has escalated and Montgomery County is set to put solar panels on dozens of roofs, including the Chevy Chase recreational center.  The county plans on leasing the rooftop space on public buildings to private companies, so that it is free of cost for the county.  Whatever energy isn’t utilized by the building can then be sold back to the power grid by these companies.  Town officials are excited for the project to get underway because it demonstrates the town’s commitment to renewable energy and being green.

For the full scoop in Gazette.Net click here.

Upcoming Events

  •  Maryland Green Legislative Update, July 11, 7 PM to 9 PM, Bethesda Green 4825 Cordell Ave, Bethesda, MD

Join Doo Consulting as they invite Stuart Kaplow to speak about new laws pertaining to green building and sustainable business opportunities.  He offers a fast paced and fun review of each of the new green laws enacted by Maryland.  Both businesses and consumers are welcome to join and learn about the opportunities created by the government to feed Maryland’s environmental industrial complex. RSVP via Eventbrite.

  • Calleva Dirty Dinners 2013: A Farm to Table Series, July 13, 6 PM to 9 PM, Calleva Farm 19120 Martinsburg Road, Dickerson, MD

Come out to Calleva Farm and enjoy a gourmet meal made entirely from ingredients grown and prepared at the farm.  Meals include local wine, non-alcoholic “mocktails,” and live music in a beautiful outdoor farm setting.  Reserve your table today!

  • Green Roof Training, July 18-20, Casey Trees, 3030 12th St. NE, Washington, DC

Join Green Roofs for Healthy Cities for their Green Roof Boot Camp and become a certified green roof professional.  Classes will cover design and installation, waterproofing and drainage, and plants and growing media.  Click here for more information or register now.

Alison Wentzell is a senior at American University and an intern with Bethesda Green.  Her interests in sustainability focus on the community, environmental politics, and cultural aspects of the environmental movement.