Archive for April, 2008

Keen on living green-courtesy of The Baltimore Sun

April 24, 2008
| Special to The Sun

Baltimore Green Week has branched out over five years to include an array of issues under its environmental umbrella.

According to program director Carol Silldorff, the organization began with a group of people interested in environmentally friendly building methods in the city. “Over the years,” she said, “it has grown immensely. … No longer is it at all connected to one issue.”

That much is clear from the schedule of events, which kicks off with a reception tomorrow at the Walters Art Museum and gets rolling Saturday with the fifth annual EcoFestival, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Druid Hill Park.

Among the 14 free events running through May 1 are:

• A discussion of pollution’s impact on the Inner Harbor and its watersheds, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday onboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Taney in the Inner Harbor.

Mayor Sheila Dixon talking about her plan for a greener Baltimore, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.

• A City Council hearing at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum, which will allow people to comment on environmental legislation from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday.

• A green building tour and reception at the Catholic Relief Services’ Stewart’s Building, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday.

• A state legislative overview from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by a conversation about the role of religion in environmental stewardship from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Grace Fellowship Church on Wednesday.

• A talk by Green For All founder and president Van Jones about helping create environmental jobs for low-income and city communities, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 1 at Morgan State University.

A broad scope of environmental issues will be on display at the EcoFestival, which is scheduled to include more than 100 exhibitors and vendors, tours of houses that use green technology, tours of some of the worst pollution in Baltimore, guided hikes and bicycle tours.

Read the rest of the article at the Sun


Loading 600 Tons- Article about Single-stream Recycling in Baltimore City

April 24, 2008

Article Courtesy of City Paper

Loading 600 Tons
CP Takes a Field Trip to Watch Single-Stream Recycling in Action

After more than a decade of shifting pickup dates and sometimes confusing sorting edicts, Baltimore City has begun collecting all recycling–glass, metal, paper, and plastic–on the same day from one container. This single-stream recycling initiative puts Baltimore in the same league with Philadelphia and dozens of other American cities and counties, and in line with Europe, which has been recycling the vast percentage of its waste streams for decades.

“People say, `It’s not convenient, I don’t want to.’ . . . You have no excuse not to now,” says Valentina Ukwuoma, who heads the city’s Bureau of Solid Waste. “You’ll see that you have more in recyclables than trash.”

The city sells yellow recycling bins for $5, but you can put your recyclables out in any container as long as it’s clearly marked, city officials say. And there’s no problem with staples in your paper, or window envelopes. All kinds of plastic are good, too. They only ask that you not include plastic grocery bags, anything caked with grease or food, wire coat hangers, and a few other things. Check this document on the Department of Public Works Web site. (or your DPW calendar) for neighborhood pickup schedules and the full list of recycling no-nos.

Ukwuoma says about 30 percent of Baltimore’s 210,000 households currently recycle. That puts the city above the state mandate of 20 percent, but more needs to be done; the city’s landfill has only about 11 years of capacity left at current fill rates.

To see how the city’s recycling regime works–and to put to rest rumors that recycling is some kind of hoax–City Paper followed the waste stream on Tuesday, Jan. 22, from curbside to sorting and processing for sale. Turns out stuff really does get recycled, and much is done by scary machinery. But most of the work–the lifting, dumping, driving, hauling, sorting and collecting–is done by human hands. Here, then, are some of the people cleaning up this town.

Correction: This article erroneously stated that “all kinds of plastic” can now be recycled. Actually, only bottles and jars marked with numbers 1-7 are currently accepted by the processor. Not accepted are plastic plates, flatware, yogurt and margarine tubs, etc.

Recyclemania 2008

April 23, 2008

The University of Maryland was crowned MD state champion of Recyclemania 2008 at it’s end in mid-April. This is only a small victory, though, as the University only finished 55th overall out of 400 colleges and universities across the nation.  Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, took first place overall.  Organizers of the event found problems both with incorrectly labeled recycling containers, and with the lack of any recycling containers in some places.  

The original article can be found here.

Student Project Proposes Bottled Water Problem Mitigation

April 23, 2008

A pair of undergraduate industrial design students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), based in Troy, NY, entered the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)’s expo with an interesting idea: recycle bottles from bottled water as affordable housing.

The most evident impact of bottled water on the environment is the sheer volume of plastic bottles discarded needlessly after the water is consumed. Even if every single bottle of water were recycled, the recycling process itself uses energy and their incineration can release harmful toxins. If the process were never to start, these bottles would not need to be recycled. In fact, the majority of bottles resulting from bottled water are not recycled. Estimates ranging from 86 to 90 percent of bottles are not recycled, and fill landfills in the United States. At a rate of around 1,000 years for biodegradation, the disposal of these bottles poses an imposing problem.

So, these two students have proposed filling up the bottles again, and not with more expensive water. Instead, the two say that filling the bottles with sand or other insulation material would weigh them down like bricks, and allow the bottles to be interlocked as foundations for construction projects. Said their report,

“Build a house from them, and the sand or other filler would serve as an insulator to keep rooms warm or cool. Meanwhile, the plastic would make the house waterproof and thus more permanent than the plain mud huts often found in the poor countries.”

While some have questioned the practicality of recycling plastic, using bottles as building materials would certainly be valuable.

Schools Create Earth Day projects; spreading the word about recycling

April 22, 2008

With today being Earth Day, it is encouraging to remember that we have a day to appreciate doing work for the environment and to remember to treat the land we live on with respect. It’s also good to know that many different schools in Maryland’s education system are working to help promote recycling, and teaching future generations the benefits that can come from it. In Hagerstown, Maryland, at Williamsport Elementary, children today learned about the new programs for recycling, with the school recycling one ton of paper since the beginning of the school year. Also, in celebration of Earth Day 2008, the school and students planted pine trees around the school, which can teach the students the value of nature and the benefits the Earth can gain from it.

Other middle schools in the area have also set up programs for recycling paper and bottles/cans from students’ lunches, which not only makes an impact on the environment now, but also teaches student about recycling and the benefits that come from it. So far, all of the programs set up in the area for schools have been successful, and more importantly are teaching children the value of recycling. Hopefully, with time, we can make recycling successes like the programs installed in each of these schools more wide-spread, and start having the impact of recycling felt statewide.

The original story can be found here

Proposal For New Recycling Program is Killed in the General Assembly

April 19, 2008

A recent movement by Frederick County lawmakers to push a new bill that would allow curbside recycling countywide failed to be passed by Maryland law makers, and will have to be voted on next year before any sort of recycling program can go into effect for Fredrick county residents. Although the bill passed through the House of Delegates, law makers were split on the issue because it would limit Frederick County residents in their options for waste pickup and many of the trash companies involved in the issue lobbied against the act. Many legislators still hope to see the bill come back next year, and hope to be able to look at the bill more closely and potentially add amendments to satisfy others’ concerns about the new plan for trash collection. The full story can be found by following this link.

Photo courtesy of

The passage of a bill that would regulate recycling for an entire county, where currently there is only curbside pickup for recycling in limited areas, would be a great improvement for Maryland and would be seen as a great improvement by the members of greenMD, especially since in the article, Commissioners President Jan Gardner says that landfill space is becoming more and more limited for the county, and that “the bill would have helped [Fredrick county residents] expand recycling, helped the small haulers and potentially save the customers money.” It is really a wonder why legislators would have such an issue with passing a bill which would add so much to the efforts for recycling in Maryland. In current times, when recycling is seen as an innovative and extraordinary effort in saving residents money and in saving resources that are limited on our planet, it is hard to believe that law makers would not want to pass a law to make recycling so easily accessible for the people. As an environmentally concerned resident of Maryland myself, I feel as though we should do all that we can in order to make recycling easier, more accessible, and more encouraged in our state. It is my hope that this bill will return to the House of Delegates next year, and that we can hopefully begin a stronger movement to encourage recycling in Maryland and in efforts for a cleaner planet overall.

Earth Day Events in Washington D.C., 2008

April 19, 2008

picture found at

For all those interested, there was an article written in The Washington Post that sheds light on many events occurring in honor of Earth Day in the heart of the D.C. area. Many of the events are free, and include projects such as cleaning up Rock Creek, going on a nature walk, and exhibits targeting recycling in Maryland, such as the “Trash People” exhibit which showcases 50 life-sized statues made out of our trash. There are also fun contests, such as a ‘recycling race’ to separate trash from plastic. This can be a great way to learn more about the environment, more about recycling in Maryland, and a great way to make an effort to make our area cleaner and more aware about our environment. These events provide a great opportunity for the environmentally concerned to become involved locally, and will hopefully also provide insight and information to even those people not as concerned about recycling in our communities and our local environment.

Earth Day Events in Washington, D.C.

Maryland on Lookout for “Mitten Crabs”

April 1, 2008

In recent months, the Maryland Department of the Environment has turned its attention to the threat of Chinese Mitten Crabs, an invasive species that has been found in very small numbers in the Chesapeake Bay. In February, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center reported that a fifth mitten crab had been found, alive, in the Chesapeake. It is feared that these crabs could establish themselves in the American Mid-Atlantic and adversely affect the marine ecosystem.

Chinese Mitten Crabs have already become a problem in Great Britain, where they are “on the verge of taking over” coastal areas. Invasive species can have dramatic ecological and economic consequences, such as the kudzu infestation in the American South, which costs $500 million per year to control, and zebra mussels in the Great Lakes, which clog pipes and are estimated to cost as much as $310 million in damages and control.
In a 2003 National Geographic News article, British scientists suggest that the Mitten Crab problem could be mitigated by catching and eating the crabs. This can be a “making lemonade” solution for the British, who do not have any native crab species, but Maryland already has a $33 million industry and a national reputation from its Blue Crabs, which could be threatened by the introduction of Mitten Crabs. In addition, Mitten Crabs are relatively small at 3″ in adult size, have unappetizing, furry claws, and have an unfortunate tendency to build up more mercury and other heavy metals than do other crustaceans.
The Marine Invasions Research Lab is keeping tabs on this and other threats to United States coastal ecosystems.

Washington Nationals Open Season in First Eco-Friendly U.S. Pro Stadium

April 1, 2008

The Washington Nationals played their first game of the season Sunday night, making headlines with their dramatic victory over the Braves. The season opener was also a showcase for the Nationals’ brand new stadium, which has caused city residents major headaches with its $600 million price tag but is the first environmentally-friendly pro stadium in the United States.


The stadium earned a “silver” rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED system, a widely accepted set of construction standards for energy conservation and other environmental concerns. The LEED system graded Nationals Park in such areas as water use reduction, light pollution minimization, use of recycled content, and energy optimization and renewability. (more…)

Ice Shelf in Danger, “We Are in for a Lot More Events Like This”; Al Gore’s Greenhouse Solution

April 1, 2008

CNN reports that a large portion of the Wilkins Ice Shelf is in danger of breaking off after a chunk of ice over 150 square miles in area fell into the ocean . Because the Antarctic summer is short, professor Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center says that there will be no more dramatic ice breakups this year, and that the “unusual show is over for this season.”


The ice shelf in danger is reportedly the size of Connecticut. Although this particular break isn’t enough to change world sea levels, having hundreds of square miles of ice unexpected threatening to break off seems portentous in the context of long established reports of accelerated melting
of polar ice.