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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Eat Less Meat and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

January 24, 2012 Green Blog No Comments

January 23, 2012

Gaithersburg, Md

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Meatless Mondays is a growing trend followed by individuals, the famous, chefs, even countries, all desiring healthier diets and wanting to reduce their carbon footprint.

Sid Lerner, a marketing expert in New York City, coined the concept, Meatless Mondays, in 2003.   Mr. Lerner was diagnosed with high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.  He was advised to eat less meat and eat more vegetables to improve his general health.

Mr. Lerner decided to educate himself and the rest of the world about the benefits of eating less meat.  He teamed with up with John Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School for Public Health and formed the non-profit, Meatless Mondays.  The campaign that evolved calls for “eliminating meats from meals one day per week to encourage people to explore healthy dietary alternatives and increase awareness of the toll meat consumption takes on our health and the environment.”

Mondays was selected as the day to not eat meat because research proves that Mondays are the best day for anyone to start anything new and to stick to it.

Today, a total of 30 Public Health Schools advocate this concept.  San Francisco followed by Washington D.C. passed resolutions to have “meat free” Mondays so as to create awareness of the health benefits of eating vegetables and fruits, and to bring awareness of the environmental impacts of abstaining from meat.  Croatia, France, England, Japan, Canada, and Belgium are a few of the countries where a meat free day is also catching on.

Sid Lerner, now in his eighties and in good health, still comes into the Meatless Monday headquarters in Manhattan to oversee this non-profit ideal.

How does eating less meat reduce one’s carbon footprint?  The 2009 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that meat production creates more greenhouse gases than transportation does. According to Nobel Prize winner Dr. Rajeendra Pachauri, chair of the  UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the production of one kilogram of beef (2.2 pounds) creates as much carbon dioxide emissions as driving an older car for 200 kilometers or 124 miles.

GreenGaithersburg.com will be posting vegetarian recipes on Mondays by local vegan coach Caroline Cherry, local good cook Denise Clarke, and the non-profit Meatless Monday’s weekly recipes to make it easier to cook non-meat dishes.

If you would like to contribute your own vegetarian recipe, please email founder@greengaithersburg.com.

Environmentalist of the Month Improves Your Watershed and Water Quality

Jennie Howland with trash collected from Muddy Branch cleanup











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. engaged in educating the public about water quality issues.  She serves on the Muddy Branch Alliance board of directors.  Ms. Howland is only 25 years old.  She is looking for a full time job in the environmental sector.

Ms. Howland grew up in Gaithersburg.  “ I always played outside, rode bikes, and explored the woods. I also attended outdoor summer camps. My parents always sent me outside once I finished my homework.“

Spending time outdoors, then a trip to the Chesapeake Bay in 4th grade that explained water pollution and quality, influenced Ms. Howland’s interest in science.  She studied a lot of Biology at Wootton High School, and then was accepted at Mount Holyoke College, a prestigious private liberal arts school, the first all women’s college in the U.S.   Ms. Howland studied Biology there, thinking she wanted to be a vet, but then decided to transfer to University of Maryland to study Environmental Sciences where she earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy.

“Environmental Sciences is the study of biodiversity and conservation biology. One scientifically measures the changes in plants and animals over time due to changes in the environment” said Ms. Howland.  “The ongoing debate is preservation versus conservation.  Because everything does change, do you try and conserve nature or slow down the outside environmental factors that create the change?”

These questions lead Ms. Howland to be interested in environmental policy.  Upon graduating from college, Ms. Howland interned for the Sierra Club’s Maryland chapter, a lobbying organization based throughout the United States.   There, she learned lobbying skills and helped plan different events.

Though Ms. Howland worked on the plastic bag bill, stopping hydrofracking, and other campaigns, Ms. Howland missed the hands on aspect of environmental work. This is what led her to helping establish a local watershed group, The Muddy Branch Alliance.

“ For me clean water is very important. I wanted to get involved in a local watershed and there wasn’t one directly in the area that I live. I went to the Clean Water Summit and met Paul Hlavinka who was also concerned about water quality issues in the area.”  Ms. Howland and Mr. Hlavinka soon decided, with others, to establish the Muddy Branch Alliance in the spring of 2010.

“ We want to bring attention to clean water, the Muddy Branch creek area.  The idea is that kids and people should enjoy clean water in the creeks.  Ms. Howland points out that all water run off from people’s lawns, from roads, all winds up in the creeks and then into the Potomac and becomes part of our drinking water. Water that has phosphates, fertilizers, pesticides, all runs into the local water sources.

Ms. Howland spends a lot of her free time setting up events, speakers and watershed cleanups along with writing grants for the Muddy Branch Alliance.  Currently, her paying job is at Starbucks. “ I am applying to jobs that are environmentally related and hoping that I can find a job in this field soon” said Ms. Howland.

When asked what Ms. Howland’s first environmental concern is, she said“ the biggest issue is where we get our energy. We are so dependent on fossil fuels and this source of energy will eventually run out. We need greater cleaner energy sources; there is not enough research or exploration. Fossil fuels are an unhealthy pollutant that contributes to water pollution. Pollution winds up in the water, it is all tied together.”

Kentlands Community Garden Plots are Available in a Lottery

January 6, 2012 Green Blog 3 Comments

Pierre and Sebastien Planting in the Kentlands Community Garden













Gaithersburg, Md

January 6, 2011

EDITORIAL By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Kentlands Residents interested in a community garden plot, come participate in the lottery for the nine plots available on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at the Kentlands Clubhouse at 7:00 pm.

This garden took a tremendous amount of time and effort to become part of the Kentlands landscape.

A group of designers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, got together and worked  through numerous garden designs, various Kentlands committees, and then gathered sponsors to make the place and space called the Kentlands Community Garden.

The initial plot owners and volunteers in the community actually leveled the land where the plots are today. The plots were built, the beds were filled with donated soil and  the path between the beds was laid with donated pebbles.

We all created and built what we hope will be loved and used by you for years to come.

My family and I have learned so much about the seasons with our garden plot. My sons Pierre and Sebastien know now that it is time, before the final spring frost, to start the early spring crops from seeds. They know when it is time to plant and they also know that they need to add compost so as to provide nutrients to the soil that we plant in. They know that we can get water from the rain barrels in the garden versus turning on the hose to water our plot.

We also have learned what vegetables grow better than others in the plot due to the amount of sun they get and also by observing some of our fellow community gardener’s more experienced ways of planting and spacing their own vegetables.

After two years of having access to a garden plot, I know now that I actually can talk from experience as to what grows and doesn’t versus reading it in a book or online. Through this experience I am more connected to the earth itself and the seasons.

For non-Kentands residents looking for a plot to cultivate, the City of Gaithersburg is looking into the possibility of a community garden in the city limits. Asbury retired community in Gaithersburg as well as the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church have community gardens for their members. Montgomery County  also runs a community garden at Emory Grove  in Gaithersburg with more than 60 plots.  Leisure World in Silver Spring, Md has a huge community garden that brings hours of enjoyment and creates community there as well.

Remember, you can also make a raised bed in your own back yard.

My hope is that anyone and everyone have a place to grow vegetables and herbs,whether in the Kentlands or somewhere else. This process will connect you to your environment and meanwhile provide you with vegetables, herbs and fruits tended by your own hands.

Watch a video  I  shot and produced about the Kentlands Community Garden. Happy gardening!


It’s the Law, Bring a Bag When You Shop

January 4, 2012 Green Blog 1 Comment

Video: Courtesy of Montgomery County

January 4, 2012

Gaithersburg, Md

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Montgomery County shoppers, don’t forget that you will have to pay five cents per plastic bag you use at the stores starting January 1st, unless you bring your own reusable bag.  Use your own bags and you will reduce the circulation of plastic bags, thus lessening the amount of  bags that find their way into streams, rivers, and the oceans.

Estimates vary widely as to how many plastic bags are made per year, anywhere between a billion to a trillion, but the truth is that the vast majority of these bags are not biodegradable and can take up 500 to 1,000 years to decompose into tiny bits of plastic. There are two major patches of floating plastic and debris out in the oceans, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and The Atlantic Garbage Patch. They are not going away.

Montgomery County, Md, is one of a few counties in the United States that has passed this law that is designed  to improve the environment by cutting the use of plastic bags.  Washington D.C. enacted the same law January 1, 2010 and has reduced plastic bag litter be an estimated 65%, according to Montgomery County.

Though there are other cities and counties in the United States as well that have enacted laws to reduce the use of plastic bags, this legislation is not without its critics.  Two websites, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and Plasticbaglaws.org provide lists of cities, counties and various states that have enacted similar plastic bag laws or have considered a law but did not enact it.

For example, in Montgomery Counties’ own debate before enacting the bag law, the  American Chemistry Council, a group representing plastic bag manufacturers, were against the new law.

ACC argued that the tax would cause higher grocery costs for  County residents as they will have to pay the five cents per bag used, that most reusable bags were made in China, and that up to 100 jobs in Maryland could be lost that are tied to reusing plastic bags and making them into other products. They also cited a study that showed reusable bags could cause cross contamination issues and that consumer education was needed to keep reusable bags sanitary.

Shoppers will still get perishable items, prescription drugs, or carry out food from restaurants in paper bags as these items are exempt from the new law.

So take your cloth, recycled plastic, nylon bags when you shop, and know you are doing your part to waste less and improve the quality of your water sources by reducing the number of plastic bags out there.




Live Christmas Tree takes on a New Meaning for Tree Shoppers

December 12, 2011 Green Blog 1 Comment

Live Christmas Trees at Potomac Garden Center










December 12, 2011

Gaithersburg, Maryland

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Selecting a Christmas tree is part of an annual tradition this time of year.  Some cut down their own live tree, others select a pre-cut live tree from a myriad of varieties, while others buy artificial trees with hopes that the tree will last a long time.

For the eco-conscious, both faux and live trees are considered environmentally friendly alternatives, depending on the argument you take.

The recycler appreciates that the live tree gets recycled and made into mulch here in Montgomery County and is available for free to be re-used in landscaping.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), old live trees are used as a renewable resource.  For example, Christmas tree clippings are used in coastal communities such as Louisiana to decrease beach erosion; and in Michigan old trees have been used in Indiana to provide refuge for wildlife.

With 35 million Christmas trees cut down each year in the United States, the NCTA advocates for the use of live trees versus synthetic.  The NCTA says many fake Christmas trees are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and are harmful to health.

The faux Christmas tree owners believe they are reducing their carbon footprint and saving money.  They make one purchase rather than yearly purchases; and the fuel used to ship the Christmas trees to sales lots and to make the yearly trip is saved, along with the purchase cost of a new tree each year.

A new trend, though, is buying a live tree with a root ball, decorating it and then replanting it.  This consumer gets a live tree for the holiday and a live tree to add to the backyard.

American Plant and Potomac Garden Center are two stores in Montgomery County, Md that have seen an increase in demand for Douglas Fir, Alberta Spruce, Colorado Blue Spruce and others with root balls intact.  Both stores have been selling one to two trees each day this season, as more customers are asking for trees that can be replanted.

The price tag for some varieties that are six to seven feet with the root ball are comparable in price to cut live Christmas trees.

Taking care of a live tree with the root ball is not so different from maintaining a cut tree in one’s home.   According to Bear Bourgea, Potomac Garden Center nursery worker, the best way to keep the tree with a root ball alive is to water the roots.

“All you need to do is get a tub with bit of water and put the tree in there.  Decorate the top or tub and keep the ball watered,” says Bourgea.

Bourgea suggests keeping the ball of the tree covered with a sac that remains on the ball until it is ready to be planted.  If the ground is frozen, the tree can be kept alive by covering the root ball with hay or plastic so it will not freeze.

For those who buy a cut live tree this season, remember to put your tree out curbside on recycling day starting December 26, 2011 through February 3, 2012.

All trees picked up by Montgomery County Recycling and the City of Gaithersburg are turned into wood chips that Montgomery County residents can have for free. Visit http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/swstmpl.asp?url=/content/dep/solidwaste/store/mulch.asp for a mulch preserve location near you.




Environmentalist of the Month Tackles Water Quality in the DC Metro Area.


Lawrence Latour, December’s Environmentalist of the Month










December 4, 2011

Gaithersburg, MD

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin


22-year-old Lawrence LaTour of Gaithersburg, MD is a recent college grad whose education in environmental sciences has paid off. Lawrence has joined the ranks of the employed as an associate engineer for Hazen and Sawyer, an environmental engineering firm.

His interest in engineering, how things work, compounded with environmental studies that started at the Poolesville High School’s magnet ecology program influenced Lawrences’ future studies.

“I studied global ecology at Poolesville and there I really became aware about the environment. We also had field trips every couple of weeks. I learned how to identify 60 different native plants and different tree species,” said Lawrence.

Applying to colleges, Lawrence was interested in teaching and engineering. The University of Delaware’s engineering programs grabbed his attention though. He graduated this spring with a major in environmental studies and a minor in civil engineering.

Spending time outdoors since a child, Lawrence has used his love for nature combined with all he has learned about ecology to teach children every summer during college at the Naturalist Audobon Society in Bethesda, MD. He created classes for kids to teach them how to identify native plants while hiking and learning about nature.

Today, as an associate engineer, Lawrence is outside every day throughout the DC metro area working on replacing manholes and managing crews working on Hazen and Sawyer water quality issues.

When asked what environmental issue Lawrence considers to be the most important one for the future he talked about water quality.

“ It is my major concern because potable water is becoming increasingly scarce in 3rd world countries. The impact is being felt in the US, especially in the Midwest where legislation regulates water usage. Water is essential for survival and it will have a more immediate impact than other environmental problems like global warming or pollution, “ said Lawrence.

Healthy Cooking Consultant Makes Eating Vegan Easy

November 18, 2011 Green Blog No Comments

Healthy Cooking Coach, Caroline Cherry












November 18, 2011

By: Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Bethesda, MD

Switching dietary habits and trying to cook new foods is not easy for most people.  Most Americans are brought up eating meat as the main source of protein; and their staple carbohydrates derive from wheat, corn or potatoes.

Shopping for alternatives to meat for protein or for alternative carbohydrates gets complicated and generally people find it difficult to know how to prepare these foods.

With more and more research linking obesity and high cholesterol to high red meat consumption, consumers are looking to vegetarian or even vegan diets but finding the switch challenging for many reasons.

Vegetarians eat animal products such as dairy, cheese, eggs and sometimes even fish; while vegans eat no animal products whatsoever.

Bethesda Maryland resident Caroline Cherry is a vegan whose business is to help people learn about vegan cooking and how to shop for vegan foods.

Cherry started her innovative business www.veryvegelicious.com a few months ago as she saw a need for people interested in veganism to be coached and supported to learn how to shop and cook vegan meals.

“I have various possibilities and arrangements available for people that want to learn how to buy vegan products and the prepare vegan meals,” said Cherry.

Clients sign up for four sessions, which include shopping together for vegan products at a supermarket or farmer’s market, followed by 3 different cooking sessions whereby Cherry prepares the vegan recipes, but encourages the client to participate.  At the end of the 4 sessions, Cherry’s clients receive a folder full of resources and six months of support, including meal planning assistance.

Cherry’s first client, Paul Gulyn, a member of the Vegetarian Society of DC (VSDC), said the experience of having someone help him shop for vegan products was the most helpful part of incorporating vegan meals into his diet.

“Like most guys, I don’t like to shop and having Caroline show me various products out there was really helpful.”  The most useful products Cherry introduced, according to Gulyn, were tasty alternatives to meat.

Though he didn’t consider himself much of a cook, Gulyn now cooks favorite vegan recipes like savory stew and vegan pumpkin pie.  “The process of working with Caroline made me cook more and eat out less as my confidence with cooking increased.”

Other clients have asked Cherry to teach and prepare a vegan meal for a friend as part of a celebration or in effort to teach a friend about veganism.

Healthy eating consultant Caroline Cherry switched to a vegan diet in the mid 1990’s.  Although Cherry switched to veganism due to her ethical concerns for the treatment of animals, she noted that “I’ve had ultra low cholesterol levels ever since, even though my family on my mother’s side all have very high cholesterol levels.”

A few of Cherry’s vegan recipes will be posted on www.GreenGaithersburg.com


Danish Filmmaker Myles Thompson in the Running for World Wildlife Fund 50th Anniversary Video Competition

November 15, 2011 Green Blog No Comments

Life Nature You by Myles Thompson on Vimeo.

November 14, 2011

Gaithersburg, MD and Denmark

By:Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin

Inspired by playing with his children in nature, Danish independent filmmaker Myles Thompson has created a joyful and thought provoking video that is in the running for the World Wildlife Fund’s video contest to celebrate their 50th anniversary.  The contest is called ” Life, Nature, You.  Make the Connection.”

Myles explained that “by playing with my children I began to share their enthusiasm for the small wonders in life and learned to appreciate some of the wildlife most of us take for granted.  I wanted to share this experience with other people.”  Thus he made Life, Nature, You, a three minute video that shows a child who finds little critters in a patch of grass and then makes sure that her mother doesn’t pass the lawn mower over the little patch.

“My daughter created a tiny nature reserve in our garden to save the wildlife in the grass from the lawn mower,” Myles explained.  “We stopped to talk about it, and then spent the afternoon looking for wildlife in the grass.  What she found really amazed me.  So many little creatures in a tiny patch of grass.”

In 2008 Myles took a course in wildlife filmmaking at the Wildlife Film Academy in Capetown South Africa and since then has been making films about animals and nature.  Myles noted that “wildlife often seems remote and disconnected from our day-to-day lives, and our impact on the environment as individuals seems minimal.  But my daughter’s idea – that an individual can save a tiny patch of the earth suddenly changed the way I think, and inspired me to do something.”

Myles acknowledged the environmental concerns in Denmark, where he grew up and lives now.  “Denmark uses a lot of wind power, which is certainly a positive development – but I think a lot of education is required to encourage people to take care of their environment,” he remarked.  For example, Myles mentioned Thy National Park which is Denmark’s first natural wildlife reserve.  “It’s beautiful, and the Danes appreciate it, but I often find a lot of litter on the trails.”

World WildLife’s 50th Anniversary video contest will be judged by WWF Video Producer Elma Okic Andrew Jackson, Head of the BBC Natural History Unit; Maarten van Rouveroy, Greenpeace Senior Video Producer; Executive Producer and co-founder of “One Day on Earth” Brandon Litman; and Alka Tomar, Director of the CMS Vatavaran Film Festival.  The deadline for entries was November 1, 2011.

The winner will receive funds and full support from WWF’s global network to produce a special short film that will help inspire people to love, value and protect the natural world.

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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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