Environmentalist of the Month-Tackles Invasives by Hand

  Gaithersburg, Md Sunday, February 17, 2013 By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Concern for one’s environment moves people to take action in a variety of ways, and for Ken Bawer it is getting rid of invasive plants that otherwise would drown out native plants in Montgomery County Md. parks and trails. Bawer is …

Cheryl Kollin, December’s Environmentalist of the Month

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Gaithersburg, Md December 14, 2012 Cheryl Kollin was selected as the Green Gaithersburg.com December environmentalist of the month. Kollin came up with an innovative program called “Farm to Freezer”, a  way to reduce food waste by freezing excess fresh organic vegetables and having the veggies then incorporated …

Environmentalist of the Month Improves Your Watershed and Water Quality

                    Gaithersburg, MD January 20, 2011 By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Jennie Howland is improving the local environment she lives in.   Over the past year, Ms. Howland has helped set up and run the Muddy Branch Alliance, a new non-profit in Gaithersburg, Md. …

Environmentalist of the Month

  By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Gaithersburg, MD Gaithersburg is a city that takes climate change seriously, thanks in large part to resident Karen Rainbolt. Rainbolt was moved to action in by reading about cities throughout the United States that were adopting climate change policies and enacting gas emission standards laid out …

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Springtime Greetings from Safe Grow Montgomery!

March 18, 2014 Green Blog No Comments
Founder, Green Gaithersburg.com

Founder, Green Gaithersburg.com






March 18, 2014

Gaithersburg, Md

Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

I am posting the following for Safe Grow Montgomery, a volunteer coalition (I am part of this organization) whose goal is to stop the unnecessary exposure to lawn care pesticides in Montgomery County, Md by seeking legislation that would prohibit the use of these substances where we live, work and play. 

The following was written by a Safe Grow Montgomery Coalition member.

First, as you probably have noticed, the Spring fertilizer applications have begun, even as we’re hit with another snowstorm! 

Did you know that most early spring fertilizer applications also contain pre-emergent weed killer?

After walking their children to school last Wednesday, a couple of neighbors and one of our Safe Grow Montgomery members watched a pesticide applicator spread a granule substance on the grass of two homes near the elementary school.  When he didn’t post a sign, they asked what he was applying.  He assured them it was just fertilizer (19-0-5, the ratio of nutrients), and that it was safe for them and the dogs they had on leash.  But as they passed the back of his truck, they saw the open bag of product called The Andersons 19-0-5 Fertilizer with .28% Barricade pre emergent herbicide.  The EPA use label for this product warns “hazard to humans and domestic animals,” including warnings against inhalation or skin contact.

This was very disturbing because either the applicator was lying or he didn’t know what he was applying.  Both scenarios are dangerous because the result was that families who walk along that sidewalk had no way to avoid, or even know that the granule that could have been stuck in sneaker treads or puppy paws would bring toxic dust into their homes. 

As long as lawn chemicals are applied, there will be exposure.  It is unfair to make citizens assume this exposure risk, especially given the research showing how dangerous exposure can be, and when there are other safe and effective ways to maintain turf. 

And speaking of research, we want to tell you about a newly published NIH-funded study by doctors at Mt. Sinai and Harvard.  Additional pesticides were identified as toxic to brain development and the human nervous system, including glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.  Please read the attached brief description of the study, which also links directly to the study.  This new study is significant not only for linking more pesticides to neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments, but because it points out the weaknesses and outdated methods of testing chemicals for EPA approval. 


The American Academy of Pediatrics Position on Pesticides, November 26, 2012, “Policy Statement – Pesticide Exposure in Children”  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/6/e1757.full.pdf

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Committee Opinion, Number 575, October 2013, “Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents”  http://www.acog.org/Resources_And_Publications/Committee_Opinions/Committee_on_Health_Care_for_Underserved_Women/Exposure_to_Toxic_Environmental_Agents


Landscape Sustainability and Lawns: Less is More

November 6, 2013 Green Blog No Comments



Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey






November 5, 2013

Rockville, Md

By: Toni Bailey

I’m a landscape designer by training, a naturalist by affinity. My specialty is sustainable landscape design. Someone asked me once:  “Does ‘sustainable landscaping’ mean that the plants live?”  Well, I hope so, but maybe it’s more about how they live.

In sustainable landscaping, the idea is to live within your means, to embrace a landscape that uses the resources that Nature provides, and to avoid importing additional resources. Another way to look at it is working within a resource budget.  Sustainable landscape practices include soils and water management. For now, let’s concentrate on plants. To stay within our resource budget, we should choose plants that are already adapted to historical conditions in terms of climate, rainfall, and soils. Best bets for plant choices are therefore plants native to the region.

But many of us have lawns, which are composed of turf grasses not native to the region. As traditionally managed, lawns are the poster children for lacking sustainability:  to thrive, they require extra resources in water and nutrients, as well as maintenance practices such as cutting which are typically performed with pollution-emitting machinery. In our zeal to have a beautiful lawn, we routinely apply pesticides to kill the weeds, insects, and diseases that attack. With all these controls and inputs, we stray far from sustainability and even cause harm, to ourselves, to wildlife, and to our water supply.

Is it worth it? It’s pretty hard to argue that it is. And yet I’ll admit I would not eliminate them in every case. Lawns have their benefits:  they provide a walkable, playable surface outdoors, and the grasses do deliver some cooling. For landscape design purposes, they offer a calming contrast to showier plants. So, is it possible to have a lawn and live sustainably?

My answer is, just try to get as close as you can. You may not be able to do everything, but you can do much. Reduce your lawn area; chances are good that you don’t need as much as you have. Opt for seed blends that are designed for less mowing and watering (they do exist!). Let go of the notion that you must apply fertilizers and pesticides. If you must water, do it strategically; don’t use a sprinkler during the hottest part of the day, when more of the water will evaporate. In a drought, abandon watering the grass and keep the trees watered instead, because they need it the most. Create your own version of lawn “offsets” by making sure that you have plenty of native trees and shrubs in addition to lawn.

Not only will you have a healthier landscape; you’ll save money too. Finally, if having the lawn is what gets you and your family outdoors, to connect with the environment, then have a lawn – just have less of it.


www. gracefullygreen.com


Learn all About Sustainable Gardening Practices

November 4, 2013 Green Blog No Comments





November 1, 2013

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Gaithersburg, Md

Toni Bailey

Toni Bailey






I am so pleased to introduce Toni Bailey of Gracefully Green  as a new contributor to Green Gaithersburg.  Toni will be sharing her knowledge about  how to incorporate sustainable landscape  ideas in our own yards throughout the seasons, as well as describing to landscape projects that she is working on.  Toni has a Master of Landscape Design degree from George Washington University with a concentration on sustainability.

Toni owns and operates Gracefully Green, LLC in Rockville, Maryland, specializing in landscape sustainability consulting and design, and is affiliated with Amicus Green Building Center in Kensington, Maryland as a landscape specialist. She is a LEED Green Associate and an accredited Green Roof Professional with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. Gracefully Green, LLC is a Montgomery County, Maryland Certified Green Business.

Please leave any questions for Toni, you can email her at:  info@gracefullygreen.com.  Her first post will go out this Tuesday, November 5th, and is about sustainable lawn care principles.

Thank you.

Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin, founder Green Gaithersburg.com



Chesapeake Bay Trust Awards: Recognizing Outstanding Students and Teachers- Looking for Nominees

October 23, 2013 Green Blog No Comments


October 23, 2013

Annapolis, Md

By: Kristin Foringer, communications and development manager for the Chesapeake Bay Trust. 

T. 410-974-2941, ext. 113 or at kforinger@cbtrust.org.

Do you know a student or teacher who is going above and beyond inside and outside the classroom? Do you want to recognize someone who is working to better his or her community and local environment? The Chesapeake Bay Trust is seeking nominations for its 2014 Awards and Scholarship Program, which honors students, teachers and volunteers who are making a difference in their local communities and for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is a nonprofit grant-making organization committed to improving the Chesapeake Bay and local communities. Our grant initiatives focus on community outreach, environmental education and Bay restoration. The Trust awards more than $5 million a year to nonprofits and schools throughout Maryland to plant trees, clean up communities, restore shorelines and get out kids outside.

Currently the Trust is soliciting applications and/or nominations for five awards: Teacher of the Year, Student of the Year, Honorable Arthur Dorman Scholarship, Ellen Fraites Wagner Award and Melanie Teems Award. The winners of the Honorable Arthur Dorman and Student of the Year awards will receive $5,000 scholarships and the Teacher of the Year will be awarded a $2,500 grant to support their environmental education work.


Recipients for each will be announced during the Trust’s Legislative Reception in January 2014, where they will have an opportunity to present their exceptional work to their legislators, local leaders and supporters.  We want to celebrate the good work being done here in Maryland and around the Chesapeake Bay watershed and hope that you will help identify candidates who should be recognized for their contributions.  All applicants can complete the online application or be nominated by someone other than a family member. The deadline to apply is December 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm and more information can be found on our website, cbtrust.org.

Help us showcase all the good work being done to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.

2013 Award Winners

2013 Award Winners

Chesapeake Bay Trust Award Descriptions:

Teacher of the Year Award
Awarded to a Maryland or Chesapeake Bay watershed educator who has shown an outstanding commitment to environmental education, who motivates and inspires students, and serves as a respected resource to colleagues and community leaders. The winner will receive a $2,500 grant to support their environmental education work.

Student of the Year Award
Awarded to a high school or college student attending school within Maryland or the Chesapeake Bay watershed who motivates and inspires others and participates in efforts to improve the local environment and/or community. The winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award.

Honorable Arthur Dorman Scholarship
Recognizes a Maryland or Chesapeake Bay watershed high school or college student of color who motivates and inspires other students through their actions in their school and/or community and participates in efforts to improve their local environment and/or their community. The winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship award.

Melanie Teems Award
Honors efforts that engages citizens in efforts to improve the environment and/or Chesapeake Bay through demonstration-based projects or programs, serves as a model for other organizations to exemplify, and utilizes the resources of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. 

Ellen Fraites Wagner Award
Recognizes an individual who works to improve the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, motivates and inspires others by promoting environmental awareness throughout the community, exhibits a long-term commitment to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, and leads successful restoration efforts.



Montgomery County Food Recovery Plan

October 9, 2013 Green Blog No Comments



Naomi Bloch

Naomi Bloch


By: Naomi Bloch

October 9, 2013

Potomac, Md

I recently attend the press conference announcing the results of the Food Recovery Work Group, on the Rockville campus of Montgomery College.

The Food Recovery Work Group was sponsored by Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin and unanimously approved by the County Council in October 16, 2012 via Resolution 17-564. The primary goal behind Council member Ervin’s sponsorship was the establishment of the Food Recovery Work Group organized to find ways to help end hunger here in Montgomery County.

It is believed that Montgomery County is the first county in the nation to implement such a forward-looking program to address the growing problems of hunger, food waste and the interconnected issues of food distribution challenges facing communities all across this nation.

During its eight month study, The Food Recovery Work Group evaluated best practices, mapped existing resources, looked at ways to enhance communication among non-profits, organizations, service providers, and food suppliers and finally would, in addition recommend any needed legislative changes to assist in the success of these efforts

Councilmember Ervin was motivated to start a food recovery effort in Montgomery County after she saw the work that student volunteers were doing at the University of Maryland. Students Ben Simon and Mia Zavalij created a model of food redistribution, now the Food Recovery Network at the UMD-College Park campus. Since 2011, Food Recovery Network has grown to 23 chapters and redistributed 135,000 meals, and is actively working with over 70 students to start new chapters in fall 2013.

To get a look at this program in action, check out this wonderful video overview:


“When I saw the amazing job the students at University of Maryland were doing, I thought, ‘Why aren’t we doing this in Montgomery County?’” said Councilmember Ervin. “Since we have numerous public institutions and private sector partners who dispose of unwanted food, it seemed like a no brainer for the county to follow the lead of the students who began the food recovery movement.”

Here is an article that will also give you more background information: http://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org/blog/2013/09/10/frn-inspires-first-county-wide-food-recovery-program-in-nation/ as well as another recent article in the Gazette: http://www.gazette.net/article/20130903/NEWS/130909834/0/montgomery-county-to-unveil-steps-for-food-recovery-program&template=gazette 

Back in June, 2012,  a food insecurity panel discussion was organized by Gordon Clark, the founder of Montgomery Victory Gardens, http://www.montgomeryvictorygardens.org/ Councilmember Ervin was one of the panelists.

It was at this event that Ben Simon and Mia Zavalij, the co-founders of the University of Maryland Food Recovery Network, were in the audience and afterwards introduced themselves to Councilmember Ervin, thus beginning this fortuitous chain of events.

It isn’t very often when one can pinpoint the exact day when the right people and energy come together in the same place at the same time, and then goes on to create a genuine solution to a serious problem! I am so thankful to have witnessed this serendipitous coming together of the fates.

I will be keeping track of the evolution of this important program and share updates with all of you.



Unacceptable Levels Documentary- A Must See

July 19, 2013 Green Blog No Comments

By: Alyce Ortuzar

Please see Ortuzar’s biography below

Friday July 19, 2013

Gaithersburg, Md

Unacceptable Levelsa new award winning documentary, is a must see. It conveys a clear message from a typical middle class young couple that chemicals are pervasive in our lives and in our bodies. We need to be aware of and understand the health and environmental harms from these rarely tested and barely regulated chemicals.  They are serious and even life threatening. The film is a thoughtful and engaging journey of how this family comes to grips with the disturbing realization that every level of government in the United States has failed to proactively protect the public from the health and environmental harms posed by so many synthetic chemicals that surround us.

The movie impresses upon us how we are exposed to chemicals in all aspects of our lives—in our drinking water, food, personal care products such as sunscreens, and home cleaning products. The film’s message becomes compelling when seen through the prism of the environmental and health impacts on children. This focus should make the movie credible to those who believe that if the government permits a product to be purchased and used, it must be safe.

After having their first child, Ed Brown and his wife examine the quality of their food and other consumer products in and around their house. Their journey begins with and takes place through this daunting and profound awareness of their parental responsibilities. They start by reading labels, only to find out that laws are so weak that a label does not have to display every ingredient or component in a product.

Interviews with esteemed scientists reveal that we all have more than 200 mostly untested chemicals in our bodies, which government agencies consider to be an acceptable level of risk. These scientists also argue that the cumulative effects of chemical exposures, even in small amounts, do hurt us. The few chemicals and additives that are tested are not included in the real-world combinations that we are exposed to, so no one has any idea what they do when combined.

These scientists also promote the Precautionary Principle, which some European countries rely on before a chemical or a product is approved. This principle puts the burden on the manufacturer to first prove that the substance or product is safe, rather than approving it and then waiting to see who or what is harmed. The message that this family in the documentary incorporates is to stay healthy by avoiding potentially toxic chemicals, and how to do that with the choices they make while promoting stronger Federal regulations.  U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who recently died, began in 2005 to lead the effort to reform the broken Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). His Safe Chemicals Act gives the EPA the authority to screen all chemicals for safety and to ban unsafe uses of chemicals. The bill currently has 27 sponsors in the U.S. Senate.

The movie also draws attention to chemicals paraded as food and the possible health consequences, especially to children. The film highlights efforts by researchers such as Sally Fallon, co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation (realmilk.com) and co-author of Nourishing Traditions, to educate consumers about the harms from these nutrient-deficient products; the benefits of healthy and unadulterated real foods; and where to find them or how to prepare them.

Unacceptable Levels shatters the rhetoric to the public from agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that our food “is the safest food in the world,” even as USDA extension agents promote the pesticides atrazine and roundup to conventional farmers as “textbook farming practices.” Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor scientifically linked to disfigured frogs and fish, and roundup is linked to widespread human health disorders and environmental hazards (see beyondpesticides.org). Studies find that both chemicals are pervasive throughout our ecosystems, including our water sources.

Then there is the sewage sludge applied to conventional farms and in our state forests as fertilizer disingenuously disguised as “biosolids.” But the sludge runs off into our water sources in storm water. Equally deceptive and as potentially harmful is the bandwagon to put fluoride in our drinking water. In the film, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists document the harms from this petroleum waste product that include a decrease in bone mass that can lead to fractures may be a possible carcinogen.

Public messages from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists also claim that the chemicals in our food are safe. “Ammonia is a declared safe food additive,” and pink slime is a “safe and nutritious” school lunch. It is important to point out that Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor now runs the FDA. He was instrumental in writing the rules when the FDA approved Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone (BgH) under the leadership of David Kessler, M.D., for injection into dairy cows.

Dairy farmers have since documented how the hormone unnaturally increases the amount of milk a cow produces and causes the overfilled udders to drag on the ground, thus necessitating the increased use of antibiotics to treat the resulting mastitis infections. The rules that Taylor wrote and Kessler approved prohibited any BgH labeling on consumer products. Ecological/organic farmers and stores such as Whole Foods were threatened with lawsuits when they tried to label their diary products “BgH free.” Finally, a Supreme Court case that Ben & Jerry’s initiated and won reaffirmed the First Amendment rights of those farmers and retailers.

To interfere with natural milk production, BgH is a synthetic female  hormone that disrupts the endocrine system of the injected cow. And contrary to FDA claims, Dr. Samuel Epstein, M.D., (author of The Politics of Cancer) maintains that the hormone remains in the milk and in other dairy products. He points out that diabetes is an endocrine disorder.

The Brown family takes us on their informative and determined quest for a safe and healthy lifestyle and world. It is an easy-to-watch and easy-to-understand movie, and they calmly communicate what they learn without the drama of too much doom and gloom. This well-researched and worthwhile film is a call to action to take control and help them, ourselves, and others do more to repair our broken system. It is time to call a halt to the U.S. government-sponsored 1950s experiment with “Better Living through Chemistry” and the alarming consequences reflected in the epidemics that confront so many Americans today at younger and younger ages. It is a system that puts profits before people, including and especially at the expense of the health of our children. For more information visit: www.unacceptablelevels.com.

Alyce Ortuzar


Alyce Ortuzar is a medical and social science researcher, writer, and editor. She manages the Well Mind Association of Greater Washington, an all-volunteer holistic medicine information clearinghouse that focuses on environmental and nutritional influences on mental and physical well-being. The clearinghouse disseminates research and outcome data on safe and effective holistic modalities, maintains a national and somewhat international holistic practitioner database, and provides free practitioner referrals (301.774.6617).



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Meatless Monday Recipes

Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Parmesan Croutons

19 Nov 2013

A good friend, Denise Clark, sent in this vegetarian seasonal recipe.   1 3 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes (5-6 cups) 2 tablespoons of olive oil 2 teaspoons of  kosher salt Pinch of freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon butter 1 large onion, diced 1 tablespoon …

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Meatless Monday Butternut Squash Ravioli

4 Nov 2013

From Chef John at allrecipes.com Ingredients  Original recipe makes 6 servings 1 cup mashed, cooked butternut squash 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 pinch cayenne pepper 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese 1 egg yolk 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 (16 ounce) package round wonton wrappers 2 …

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Meatless Monday Proclaimed by Montgomery County Council

22 Jul 2013

July 22, 2013 Gaithersburg, Md By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin I was so pleased to find out that Montgomery County Council has officially endorsed Meatless Mondays, a nationwide effort to choose more plant-based foods. For more information about this news read Compassion Over Killing’s website.  Also, Naomi Bloch sent in a Meatless …

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Meatless Monday Recipe- Roasted Cauliflower

17 Jun 2013

  This recipe sounds delicious and I am going to try it tonight because I have a cauliflower sitting in my fridge and I need to cook it! Will let you know what it tastes like!- Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin Recipe is from BonApetit Ingredients Roasted Cauliflower 2 1/2 cups dry white …

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Meatless Mondays-Caramelized Onion Tart

20 May 2013

Here is a vegetarian recipe for an Onion tart. I just read up and now understand that a tart is made in ribbed dish, the bottom part of the pan can come out, and the tart can be all sorts of shapes vs. a quiche is in round pie dish… …

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