Baltimore County Now
Part of May’s Clean Commute Month Events
On Friday, May 15, hundreds of Baltimore County residents are expected to celebrate national Bike to Work Day. Bike to Work Day rallies are being held in Towson, Timonium, Catonsville, Owings Mills and White Marsh to celebrate those who commute to work by bike, and to encourage others to give it a try.
Free early-morning refreshments and give-aways will be provided, and those that pre-register online will also receive Bike to Work Day t-shirts and are eligible to win prizes including a new bicycle.
Bike to Work Day is an annual event, promoting bicycling as a healthy and enjoyable commute option that eases congestion. It is managed regionally by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council through collaboration with state agencies, bicycle and pedestrian advocacy groups, cities and counties throughout Central Maryland, committed volunteers and generous sponsors.
An Efficient and Fun Way to Get Exercise
Baltimore County government is marking its twelfth year in sponsoring the local events, which have been steadily growing in number and participants. The Owings Mills location is new this year, hosted by Edaptive Systems Inc. (400 Red Brook Boulevard, Owings Mills, Maryland 21117). The White Marsh event, in its fifth year, is hosted by IKEA White Marsh. Ride participants and pre-registrants who are on their way to work by bike will receive a coupon for breakfast at IKEA.
“Biking to work is an efficient and fun way to get the exercise you need while commuting to the workplace,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “And, biking rather than driving to work can help reduce the amount of vehicle emissions, which are a significant contributor to the region’s ground-level ozone problem.”
For more information, visit the Baltimore Metropolitan Council website.
Leaders in Conservation
Baltimore County has once again been recognized on a national level for its excellence in promoting the benefits of trees for communities. This afternoon, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz accepted the Tree City USA Award on behalf of Baltimore County.
This is the twelfth year that the County received this notable designation by the national Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the US Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
Arbor Day in Baltimore County
“We’re proud that we are leaders in the state when it comes to to the conservation, health, reforestation and stewardship of the County’s trees and forests, and we are grateful for the recognition that comes with being named a Tree City USA,” said Kamenetz.
Dozens of environmental leaders attended the announcement, held at the County’s Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park. At the event, the County Executive also proclaimed April 24 as Arbor Day in Baltimore County, which corresponds with the national Arbor Day date.
The County Executive marked the occasion by planting a tree at the County’s agricultural center, the site of a successful reforestation project that is a model for current projects funded through the stormwater remediation fee.
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.