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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On the Quest for Healthty Makeup Products

May 3, 2013 Green Blog No Comments
Ruthzaly Weich, Contributor

Ruthzaly Weich, Contributor

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 3, 2013

Gaithersburg, Md

By: Ruthzaly Weich

As women we are always on the quest to make ourselves look good.  Makeup is one of those things that can be very useful, sometimes indispensible. I have always loved makeup. Not just for the way it seems to improve the way I look but also for the fun of it.

A friend of mine mentioned once that she was avoiding makeup for the duration of her pregnancy and resorting to natural alternatives that did not include harmful ingredients for her baby.  Honestly, it was the first time I ever considered this.  My friend mentioned that several ingredients in makeup products had been linked to birth defects. So, when it was my turn, I brought up the conversation again. She told me what ingredients and products to be aware of. I went home to look through my makeup drawer and found that I didn’t keep the boxes that list the ingredients.  I had no idea what my makeup had or didn’t have.  So, I avoided most makeup while pregnant with my first child.

I’m once again pregnant and I don’t feel as radiant as I used to. I miss makeup but, I’m not willing to jeopardize my baby’s health over it. So, I went on a quest to find the perfect makeup and I was not prepared for what I learned. I could write volumes on this topic yet, rather than restating what is already out there I thought I will connect you to the experts who have done the research.

Recommended Readings:

The Green Beauty Guide Book by Julie Gabriel

No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connoer & Alexandra Spunt

Tools for Identifying Harmful Ingredients in Makeup Products:

http://thegreenbeautyguide.com/100-ingredients-to-avoid-download/

 http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ A 79,000 product database of everything out there that rates the ingredient concerns.

Chemical Maze – App for Android and iphone – is a great tool for identifying harmful ingredients in almost everything and most importantly it explains what it does to your body…

Make Up Expires 

Another great piece of information I gathered specifically from reading the Green Beauty Guide book by Julie Gabriel was about the importance of checking the expiration date of the makeup products I use.  I was aware of the need to discard mascara after 6 month. Still, I learned that most moisturizes, foundations and even lipsticks have a don’t-use-past-this-date note. Products can ferment, oxidate or simply become harmful. The fact is that makeup typically includes active ingredients whose reactive life span is limited and there is very little known or research available on the topic to risk it.

Commercial vs. Homemade

My most exciting discovery through this learning process was that I can make the best facial care and makeup at home! It seemed like an impossible undertaking yet, I learned that keeping it simple is best. While discussing my readings with a friend, she told me that she has been using raw honey as a face wash and moisturizer. I have begun to use it and it is as simple as it sounds. I apply the raw honey evenly on my skin and wash it off. It has drastically improved the texture and moisture of my skin. I love that kind of solutions. Nevertheless, in this process I also learned that the foundation that I use is actually free of all unwanted ingredients. So, I have decided to do my facial skin care homemade and use safe commercial products for makeup. I may one day embark on the 100% homemade. I am not there yet, time and ability to test around what works best for me will tell. The fact is that there are great companies out there that keep the line.

Useful Links:

Commercial Products Recommendations:

 http://thegreenbeautyguide.com/how-to-choose-mineral-foundation-best-brands-tips/

Homemade Guides:

http://wellnessmama.com/4948/homemade-makeup-recipes/

http://www.sheknows.com/beauty-and-style/articles/849631/homemade-beauty-recipes

http://www.naturalskincarerecipesresourcecenter.com

http://www.brambleberry.com – highly recommended site for ordering all unheard-of ingredients.

 

Today is Earth Day

April 22, 2013 Green Blog No Comments

 

 

April 22, 2013

Gaithersburg, Md

Editorial by: Alex Stavitsky Zeineddin

Happy Earth Day!

It is always interesting to go back and learn how and why annual events started.

Earth Day was the idea of Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson who joined forces with a Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey. Senator Nelson was moved by the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Ca. This bi-partisan team helped build a movement that got 20 million Americans on April 22, 1970, to protest about the environmental issues of the day.

According to Earth Day Network, these students and people demonstrated against oil spills, polluting factories, power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife.

Today, Earth Day 2013, we still have many of the same issues that concern us here and in other countries.

Thank you to all who work to improve our future generation’s eco systems. From water quality, to buildings that use less energy, to the development and use of electric cars, recycling, these changes we have made since 1970 are important.

There is still so much that needs to be done, from minimizing the use of pesticides, to taking care that we do not pollute our waterways, to reducing our national, state and personal carbon footprint.

Courtesy of Prism Energy Services prismenergyservices.com

Courtesy of Prism Energy Services prismenergyservices.com

We can make changes in our daily lives that will, and do, improve our environment, not just for us but for future generations.

Have a good day,
Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin
Founder, Green Gaithersburg.com

A.I.R. Lawn Care- A Local, Sustainable Lawn Care Company

April 9, 2013 Green Blog No Comments

 

 

A.I.R. Lawn Care Solar  Charging Unit

A.I.R. Lawn Care Solar
Charging Unit

Gaithersburg, Md

April 9, 2013

Intro by: Alex Stavitsky Zeineddin

A.I.R. Lawn Care is one of the first local, environmentally conscious businesses that is advertising on Green Gaithersburg.com. I thought it is interesting and informative for readers to know who the people are behind new and environmentally conscious businesses.

Zack Kline, a recent college graduate recently started A.I.R. (Atmosphere Improvement and Renewal)Lawn Care company in Montgomery County, Md.  This lawn care company uses electric powered blowers and is based in Montgomery County, Md. Check out A.I.R. Lawn Care’s website.  Also, Zack is getting certified as an organic practice lawn care specialist. Contact Zack at: zkline@airlawncare.com

Read below:

How did you decide to start your lawn care business?
I have always enjoyed cutting the grass since I starting doing it for my family while I was in 5th grade. As I grew older I worked for a mid-sized landscaping company while I was in high school and in college. While there I noticed the opportunity to be able to run the business better in regards to operations and sustainability. After graduating college I decided to start A.I.R. Lawn Care with those goals in mind.

How did you actually start your business, with a partner, family? Do you currently work with other people?

I started the business  by myself. Currently, I do not work with other people, but I am in the process of building a team.
Why does the environment matter to you?
The environment matters to me because it provides the air I breathe, the water I drink, and the food I eat, not to mention being outdoors and surrounded by nature is very refreshing.
You mentioned that you are working on a certification to be a non synthetic pesticide/herbicide applicant? Who is certifying you and what exactly are you learning?

I am working to get certified by the Northeast Organic Farming Association. As part of that certification I will be learning  NOFA’s Standards for Land Care: Practices for Design and Maintenance of Ecological Landscapes, written by NOFA’s Organic Land Care Committee. These Standards, published in 2001 and revised semi-annually, extend the vision and practices of organic agriculture to the care of landscapes where we live our daily lives and lands which we choose to steward. By the end of the course, I will be able to incorporate land care methods and materials that respect natural ecology and the long-term health of the environment into my businesses and education programs.

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school (college) and what did you study?
I grew up in Rockville, MD and went to school at Salisbury University. While there I studied Marketing and Information Systems. A big part of my education I have to attribute to the extra-curricular activities I participated in including being an RA, starting a fraternity, starting the first entrepreneurship class at Salisbury, and winning a business plan competition.
Who or what most influenced your environmental awareness?

People: My mother and best friend
Event: While I was working for the mid-sized landscaping company there was a day I will never forget. It was a scorching “Code Red” day in Darnestown, Md., and I was working on trimming the edge of a 2.5 acre property. I became irritated at the excessive amount of smog and noise pollution the string trimmer exerted. That, coupled with knowing the amount of gasoline the company was putting into their machines on a daily basis, had me thinking, “There’s got to be a better way!”
These people and this event led me to become more aware of our environmental impact and raised my awareness.

How to Prepare Soil for Planting and How to Compost

April 5, 2013 Green Blog No Comments
Dayle McCarthy

Dayle McCarthy
Contributor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockville, Md

April 5, 2013

By: Dayle McCarthy

Intro by: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Dayle McCarthy is a new contributor to Green Gaithersburg.com. Dayle is our March/April Environmentalist of the Month. She is a leader in her community, having established a community garden in King Farm in Rockville.  Dayle works with school age children throughout the year to teach them about planting and harvesting in an organic garden. Her story will be up in the next few days, Meanwhile, learn from the master how to prepare soil for planting and all about composting!

______________________________________________________________________

Well, we’re at the beginning of  April and spring is still a bit elusive. Some gardeners have gotten English peas or lettuce in by now; others may have just begun to prepare the soil. Some of you may never have considered enhancing your soil. Well, I’m here to dish the dirt.

I’ll be explaining how easy it is to create your own soil amendment, or what we gardeners refer to as “black gold” with very little time and hardly any money. One important thing to note is that while creating healthy soil, you’ll also be eliminating the need to ship your kitchen waste off to a landfill. Besides growing beautiful healthy plants to enjoy or eat, another primary goal is to grow healthy plants without adding chemical fertilizers to lawns and gardens that may be harmful to our wonderful Chesapeake Bay.

Whether you are growing vegetables, fruits or flowers, the best way to improve the soil quality is to determine what kind of soil you’re dealing with. There are some inexpensive soil kits that you can find in local garden shops; however, the best way to determine your soil content is by sending a sample away to a soil lab.

To take a soil sample, follow these simple guidelines:

  1. 1. Take separate samples from different areas – front or back yard, or specific garden area.
  2. 2. Use a spade or trowel to take 10 or 12 small samples from the given area
  3. 3. Samples should be taken from a depth that will contain plant roots – 3” for turf; 6-8” for garden or landscape beds.
  4. 4. Mix together all samples in a clean bucket (no rocks or other debris)
  5. 5. Send a minimum of 1cup or maximum of 2 cups of the soil in a zip lock baggie to your chosen lab.

Following is a list of labs that perform soil tests*

A&L Eastern Agriculture Laboratories, Inc. in Richmond, VA

http://www.aleastern.com

AgroLab, Inc. Milford, DE

http://www.agrolab.us

University of Delaware Soil Testing Program in Newark, DE

http://www.ag.udel.edu/dstp/aboutus.html

If you send your contact information to the lab -with a relatively small fee- usually $10 to $15- they will send you a graph representing the amount of nutrients in your soil.

*Taken from University of MD Extension  “Regional Soil Test Labs For Home Gardeners”

If you are working with virgin soil, you’ll find most plots in the D.C. area have an abundance of clay.  In order to improve the drainage and aeration, what you’ll need to provide is organic material. This is especially important as we experience more drought-like conditions during the summer months. You’ll need to water much less frequently if your soil is rich in organic material.

I encourage all gardeners to keep a compost pail beside their kitchen sinks. You can make one yourself using a large covered tin with a few air holes, or buy one any number of places. These come with filters to eliminate any odors. I often keep a week’s worth of fruit and vegetable scraps in the pail before transferring to my compost bin.

You can compost even if you live in an apartment with a balcony. One way to accomplish this is to compost with worms, or vermiculture, an easy and fun project to do with children.

Basically, you need a worm bin, which can be a plastic container with a top. Make sure to put small air holes (you can cover these with gauze) so the worms get air. You’ll need to control how much kitchen waste to add to the bin at a time.

Before adding your worms, you’ll need to provide them with some bedding – shredded black and white newspaper strips work great and, again, you’ll be repurposing your trash. Just spray them until moist, mix in a little soil and you’re good to go. One pound of worms to start would be good. One place I’ve ordered worms is: “Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm.” He’s not my uncle, so feel free to purchase from any source listed on various websites. I’d start off with about a pound of worms.

You can add all kinds of fruit and veggie scraps, coffee & tea grounds, egg shells, but avoid meat, dairy, and oils. Bury the scraps in the soil so they don’t smell. The worms will do the rest. If they’re leaving uneaten scraps, feed them a bit less at a time. In 3 to 6 months you should be ready to harvest your compost – primarily worm castings. To do this you’ll need to gently push the compost to one side of the bin, and add new bedding to the other side along with some veggie scraps. In a few weeks the worms will make their way to the other side and you can use the compost from their newly vacated area.

You can sprinkle this “black gold” on your houseplants or any other plants, such as tomatoes or peppers that you’re growing on your balcony. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, place these valuable castings (they’re fairly expensive to purchase at garden shops) around your crops.

Composting in a regular compost bin is not much different. You’ll need to either build or obtain a bin (some types can be obtained free from Montgomery County) or purchase one. There are six important things to remember when using a compost bin:

Brown

Green

Chopped (ideally smaller than 6”)

Water (just enough so that the mix feels like a damp sponge)

Air

Sun

Remember:

Brown materials provide the carbon (fuel)

Green materials provide the nitrogen (fire)

I’m including this handy chart for you to see which kinds of ingredients to add

 

Common Compost Ingredients
Brown
(high-carbon materials)corncobs and stalks

paper (newspaper, not glossy)

pine needles

sawdust or wood shavings

straw

vegetable stalks

dry leaves

Green
(high-nitrogen materials)coffee grounds

tea bags without staples

eggshells

fruit wastes

grass clippings

feathers or hair – save the clippings from your haircuts

seaweed – gather some at the beach

kitchen scraps (except citrus & onion)

rotted manure – local farms have this

alfalfa meal

It’s also important to keep your compost bin in the sun as much as possible so that it heats up and the components decay much faster. Turn your compost regularly with a handle to mix thoroughly and you’ll have another way of creating that “black gold.” If you follow these directions, you should have great organic compost to add to your flower or vegetable beds in approximately six weeks. You’ll want to stop adding to this particular bed a few weeks prior to using so that any new materials can decompose. In the meantime, you could freeze your kitchen waste until your new compost bed is ready to re-start the process.

You can use this compost when first planting or as a “side dressing” around your plants during the growing season. Your plants will hold water much better in organic soil than soil that hasn’t been fed a yummy dose of black gold.

I encourage you to keep your good “rotten” stuff out of the trash and begin feeding it to your happy, healthy plants.

Best of luck.

Dayle McCarthy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help Name a Chesapeake Bay Icon

April 2, 2013 Green Blog No Comments

Press Release from the Chesapeake Bay Trust announces

“Name our Bird” contest to promote awareness for the Bay and the

Treasure the Chesapeake license plate.

Contact: Kristin Foringer

410.974.2941, Ext. 113

(Annapolis, MD) April 1, 2012 – Want a chance to win Southwest airline tickets, a gift card to your favorite store, and other prizes while you name a Chesapeake Bay icon? Then enter the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s first ever “Name our Bird” competition. The Trust, a non-profit grant making organization dedicated to helping restore the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, is looking for creative names to give an identity to the iconic blue heron used on the organization’s official logo and Treasure the Chesapeake license plates.

“You see the blue heron throughout much of the Chesapeake Bay watershed;  flying across the sky, fishing in a stream, and even on the back of cars in the form of Treasure the Chesapeake license plates,” said Molly Alton Mullins, director of communications at the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “The blue heron is an emblematic icon of the Bay and our beloved natural resources which is why we chosen to have it represented on our logo and on our license plate for more than 27 years.”

The contest launches April 1 and name submissions can be made through the Trust’s Bay Plate website. The naming submission period will end on April 15.  Three names will be chosen as finalists and voted upon by the public from April 19 until April 26. The official winner will be named on April 29 and there are multiple chances to win prizes. There will be two grand prize winners; one for whose name is chosen to represent the blue heron and the other a randomly selected voter who chose the winning name. These winners will receive prizes including Southwest airline tickets, a free Bay Plate, tickets to the Trust’s Treasure the Chesapeake Celebration gala and other events. There are also fantastic giveaways for the runner-ups and randomly chosen participants daily throughout the contest. Visit www.bayplate.org to see the official rules and prizes.

“The Chesapeake Bay Trust wants Marylanders to connect the Bay Plate with the great work being done to preserve our waterways and improve our local communities,” continued Mullins. “Many people are unaware that when they purchase a Treasure the Chesapeake license plate they are supporting environmental education and restoration programs right here in Maryland. We hope this contest helps bring the Bay plate into more Maryland homes that care about the blue heron, and our treasured Chesapeake Bay.”

For more information on the Chesapeake Bay Trust and how you can support Bay restoration, visit www.cbtrust.org. To enter the contest and for its official rules, visit www.bayplate.org.

About the Chesapeake Bay Trust: 

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is a nonprofit grant-making organization dedicated to improving the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers through environmental education, community outreach, and local watershed restoration. Since its inception in 1985, the Trust has awarded $50 million in grants and engaged hundreds of thousands of citizen stewards in projects that have a measurable impact on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The Trust is supported by the sale of the Maryland Treasure the Chesapeake license plate, donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form, donations from individuals and corporations, and partnerships with private foundations and federal and state agencies. Almost 90 percent of the Trust’s expenditures are directed to its Chesapeake Bay restoration and education programs

Meatless Monday Recipe- Shitake Mushroom Soup

April 2, 2013 Green Blog No Comments

Another recipe from Claire Furman, Kentlands Whole Foods.

The inspiration for this soup was the shiitake mushroom.

The flavor components of the aromatic roots and  the sweetness of the mirin complement the earthiness of the shiitake mushroom.

I served this to our customers at Whole Foods Market in Gaithersburg a couple of Friday’s ago, but it is perfect for Meatless Monday.

 

SHIITAKE MUSHROOM SOUP

serves 4-6

 

Ingredients

1 quart 365 low sodium vegetable broth *

1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger

1 Tbsp. freshly grated garlic

2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots

4 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps

1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)

1 Tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

2 cups packed spinach leaves, washed, dried and coarsely chopped

3/4 – 1 cup diced daikon radish

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (green parts only)

 

Place ginger, garlic, shallots and 1 cup of the vegetable broth in a 3-4 qt. stock pot.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.

Add the mushrooms, mirin, remainder of stock and Bragg’s Aminos and simmer for about 8 minutes.

Add the chopped spinach and diced daikon radish and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with the sliced scallion greens.

 

*You may want to add an additional 1-2 cups water.

This soup is delicious as a first course.  Add cooked soba noodles to make a heartier dish.

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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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