Baltimore County Now
Schools Ask Community Groups, Sports Teams, Businesses to Conduct 15-Minute Litter Cleanups
This morning at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, School Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance and Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) Director Debbie Phelps kicked off year two of an innovative initiative that taps into school spirit and civic pride to reduce litter in Baltimore County communities and waterways.
The “Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge” encourages BCPS schools and groups in their local communities to conduct quick 15-minute litter cleanups. These groups then designate a Baltimore County public school to receive credit toward winning an environmental grant.
“Last year, 3,200 Clean Green 15 volunteers collected tons of litter from our communities, and four of our Baltimore County schools received thousands of dollars in grant funding for school-based environmental projects that will have lasting positive effects,” said Kamenetz. “We are excited about Clean Green 15 in 2015 and are expecting even more wonderful results this year.”
Under this program, BCPS schools and their community supporters will compete to have the most impressive Clean Green 15 results during April and May. Beyond the schools, any type of group is encouraged to participate, including youth groups, places of worship, civic or community groups, scout troops, sport teams, businesses and other organizations that wish to help clean up their community. Groups are asked to report their cleanups on the BCPS website.
Environmental Project Grants
The Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools will award significant monetary grants to the winning schools to fund school-based instructional projects emphasizing the theme of environmental literacy. The top school overall will win a $3,000 grant, with first place grants of $2,000 going to the top elementary, middle and high schools. Grants can be used for school-based environmental projects like installing a reading garden or rain garden, planting trees, diverting downspouts and environmental education projects. Second place schools from each level will win a web-enabled iPad.
A Collaborative Effort
“The Clean Green 15 challenge is a great way for Team BCPS to focus on a clean environment and to show the pride we take in beautifying our schools and communities,” said BCPS Superintendent Dance.
The Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge is a collaborative effort of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Public Schools and the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools. Sponsors include Maryland Environmental Service, the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, Comcast and Sparrows Point Terminal.
“Not only is litter unattractive, it makes its way into our waterways,” said Baltimore County Council Chair Cathy Bevins. “Since my district has most of the County’s waterfront, I’m urging groups all around the County to please take a few minutes to make a difference for our communities and their local school.”
The Litter Problem
The Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability developed a County-wide trash reduction strategy, which focuses on litter in rivers, streams and lakes in Baltimore County. All of the litter on Baltimore County streets and in neighborhoods moves downhill in the direction of drainage. Litter on the land eventually ends up in the water by means of wind and water runoff. Illegal dumping is another way that trash ends up on the banks of the County’s woodland streams.
This trash becomes a threat to wildlife, damaging the aesthetic value of the County's natural resources and deterring recreation in these areas. The trash from County streams and rivers eventually adds to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.
“The point of Clean Green 15 is that litter doesn’t disappear,” said Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability Director Vince Gardina. “Studies show that the most effective anti-litter strategies focus on fostering an individual, personal obligation not to litter and creating a perception that litter is socially unacceptable. That’s what we are hoping to accomplish with this litter challenge.”
Not-So-Fun Facts About Litter
- An aluminum can takes 200 to 500 years to decompose.
- A cigarette butt takes up to 10 years to decompose.
- A glass bottle takes one million years to decompose.
- Many sources say that plastics are essentially indestructible to some degree or another, but studies have shown that these plastics do break down eventually and release toxic chemicals as they decompose.
- A national study found that the most commonly littered item is cigarette butts. According to the same study, 81 percent of all observed littering occurred with notable intent.
- Factors associated with litter include distance of nearest trash receptacle, presence of existing litter, and age with younger people tending to litter more frequently.
Director, Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences
There’s a new place to get smart in Baltimore County. Actually, it’s a place to get “smARTS,” a new Baltimore County arts television show premiering March 7 at 7:00-7:30 p.m. on BCTV, cable channel 25 in Baltimore County.
We call the program smARTS because we believe this is the smart place to find out about Baltimore County’s arts scene. The show covers music, dance, theatre, and visual arts, from Catonsville to Dundalk to Towson and Owings Mills.
We also feel the arts really do make you smarter; smarter about the world, about ideas and emotions, and smarter about how creative expression makes our lives more meaningful and just plain fun.
Carolyn Black-Sotir, chair of the Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences, hosts the program, The premiere show includes an interview with Marin Alsop about the new Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra, whose new home is the Carver Center for Arts & Technology in Towson; a preview of the 25th Baltimore Jewish Film Festival at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts in Owings Mills; and a discussion about For All the World to See, an exhibit at UMBC focusing on the impact of visual images and the civil rights movement. A “Get smARTER” segment looks at how County composer Valencio Jackson developed the show’s original theme music.
smARTS premieres March 7 and airs Thursdays and Fridays, 7:00-7:30 p.m. and Tuesdays 11:30-noon on BCTV, cable channel 25 in Baltimore County. Segments are available 24/7 on the Baltimore County government web site www.baltimorecountymd.gov
SmARTS is produced by the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences, in partnership with the Baltimore County Public Schools and BCPS-TV.
by Greg Flynn
Baltimore County Office of Communications
To the delight of parents and the dismay of students everywhere, the new school year is right around the corner. It’s always an exciting time in Baltimore County, but there's an extra buzz this year as Baltimore County Public Schools will be starting its year with a new superintendent, Dr. Dallas Dance.
Thanks to the new realities of social media, it is easier to connect with our leaders than ever before, and our new superintendent is no exception. If you want to learn more about what is taking place in the school system, check out the superintendent’s blog or follow him on twitter.