Tips of the Month
Why Should We Care About Road Salt? (December 2023)
Road salt is everywhere during snowy and icy winter months. It keeps us safe on roads and sidewalks, but excess salt drains into our streams and rivers. Fish and bugs that live in freshwater can't survive in extra salty water. And many of us (more than 118 million Americans) depend on local waterways for drinking water. Water treatment plants are not equipped to filter out the extra salt, so it can end up in your tap water and even corrode your pipes. Salt can also seep into your yard's soil and harm plants. It's also a pet paw irritant!
What Can We Do?
- Use sand or kitty litter instead of salt on your walkways and driveways.
- Shovel snow quickly to avoid or at least minimize use of salt.
- Report large piles of salt on town, county, and state roads. They will pick it up.
- Town roads – call 301-654-7144
- County roads -- call 311
- State roads -- call 1-800-543-2515
- Visit The Izaak Walton League website to learn more: https://www.iwla.org/water/stream-monitoring/salt-watch
For other Climate and Environment Tips, visit https://bit.ly/CECTips.
Electrification: A Win for You and the Planet (October 2023)
As both homes and internal combustion engine vehicles emit greenhouse gases, transitioning to electrified appliances and vehicles may help to combat climate change. Further, with increased tax credits and available rebates, you may be able to plan, upgrade, and save money on:
- Heat pump water heaters
- Heat pump heating and cooling systems
- Electrical panel upgrades
- New and used electric vehicles
- Induction/electric stoves
- Solar energy panels
- Weatherization upgrades
To learn more about:
- The County’s residential energy programs, visit https://mygreenmontgomery.org/energy/ or contact the MoCo Electrification Help Desk at 301.830.5767
- Maryland’s electrification incentives, visit https://marylandev.org/maryland-ev-tax-credit/
Note that some subsidies have income limits or sliding scale benefits and that Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) rebates will start to be administered by Maryland in 2024.
Reduce Your Food Waste! (July 2023)
It is estimated that more than 1/3 of the food produced in the U.S. is never eaten, wasting the resources used in producing it and contributing to many environmental problems including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, pesticides, species extinction, and more. Food waste is estimated to account for about 8% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, from the combination mostly of carbon dioxide produced as the food that does not get eaten is grown, processed, and transported and from the methane emitted as food waste is disposed in landfills and decomposes.
A Montgomery County study estimated that approximately 124,000 tons of food scraps are disposed of iin our trash each year -- mostly from homes -- amounting to about 240 pounds per person per year.
Food waste is something each of us can help to reduce. Here’s how:
Eating at home:
- Make a list and buy only what you will prepare or can store
- Consume perishable foods first
- Cook only what you need/freeze extras
- Store leftovers in reusable glass containers with content and date attached
- Use the free weekly Compost Crew pickup service or compost at home
Eating in restaurants:
- Order only what you will eat -- Share a salad or a main dish
- Take a reusable glass container with you to retrieve all leftovers (leave no scraps behind); or
- Ask for a carry out container that can be recycled
- Ask what the restaurant does to reduce food waste and encourage them to do more
Leaf Blowers (May 2023)
The Climate and Environment Committee reminds residents that the Town’s ban on use of gas-powered leaf blowers is in effect between January 1 and October 14.
If a resident or a landscaper wants to use a leaf blower during this period, this means the blower must be battery-powered or plug-in electric. Violations can be reported to the Town office at 301-654-7144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, Montgomery County noise regulations prohibit daytime noise that exceeds 65 decibels at the boundary of any residential property. The simultaneous use of multiple leaf blowers -- even battery-powered ones -- can exceed this level, especially on the generally small yards of our Town. More information can be found here.
These regulations help improve health and quality of life for both residents and our landscape workers. If your yard is serviced by a lawn maintenance company, please make sure they are aware of both laws and that you want these laws to be observed. We all will appreciate that!
Good news: Rakes are legal all year round!
Greening Our Town (February 2023)
The mission of the Climate and Environment Committee (CEC) is to inspire and facilitate energy conservation and environmental stewardship by the Town and its residents through education, government policies, and incentives. A communication vehicle the Committee uses is the Greening Our Town webpage, under the Residents section of the Town website.
On the Greening Our Town webpage, you’ll find:
- General information and resources, including how to get involved in CEC and related activity and links to prior event documents and recordings.
- Topical Information organized by: Greener Gardens, Greener Homes, Greener Transportation, Green Guides.
Another helpful tip is that you can find their primers on various topics to help you get started on specific projects such as:
- Home HVAC, Induction Cooking, Native Planting/Lee Dennison Garden, and Renewable Electricity.
Suggestions for improvements to the CEC and Greening Our Town webpages are welcome.
Reducing Household Plastic Use (January 2023)
Products made from or packaged in plastic have become a scourge, and very little plastic is recyclable. What can you do beyond recycling plastic bags? Here are some ideas:
Many cleaning products are now available that are made from plants or use recycled paper products. For example, have you tried:
- Scotch-Brite Greener Clean non-scratch scrub sponges: they are made from plants, thus are biodegradable, and are available in most local grocery stores.
- Swedish dishcloth: a biodegradable cloth better than using paper towels, and it launders well. Available at Rodman’s, Strosnider’s, or from Who Gives a Crap (https://us.whogivesacrap.org/)
- Purchase a stack of small white towels instead of paper towels. Easy to launder. Reduce your usage of all single-use items.
For personal hygiene: Standard toothbrush handles and bristles last forever (not in a good way).
- Toothbrushes with bamboo or wood handles are available from many companies.
- Use toothpaste that is available in biodegradable tubes.
- Switch to bar shampoo and conditioner -- it works great! Ditch the plastic bottles & pumps.
Fast Fashion (December 2022)
Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Think Fast Fashion is sensible? Why not invest less in clothes that will be quickly out of style? Think again. Fast fashion produces waste, pollution, and natural resource depletion.
- Of all clothing produced, less than 1% is actually recycled, and only about 12% re-used.
- People today buy 60% more clothing than just 15 years ago but keep it only half as long.
- 73% of all clothing ends up in landfills or is incinerated. (That’s a low estimate)
- Donated clothing mostly ends up in landfill or is sent to less-developed countries where it competes with local businesses and produces few jobs.
- Greenhouse emissions are high in production, transport, and disposal.
- Synthetic fabrics such as acrylic, polyester, nylon and spandex are petroleum-based. Their production and use introduces toxins and (plastic) microfibers into our air, soil, and waterways.
What can you do? Say “not so fast” to fast fashion. When shopping for yourself and for others, choose well-constructed clothes in timeless styles. Look for fabrics made from natural, renewable fabrics like cotton, wool, hemp, linen, and bamboo. Buy less and wear it longer. Shop consignment and thrift stores both local and online. Keep this in mind for Holiday gift-giving!
Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers (November 2022)
Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers (GPLBs) are banned in Town from January 1 to October 14 but are allowed between October 15 and December 31 for the fall leaf cleanup. Residents are also reminded that use is only permitted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday thru Friday and from 12 to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays. These rules apply to both residents and their landscapers. Violations can be reported to email@example.com or by calling 301-654-7144.
Town residents are encouraged to support alternatives to GPLBs, such as electric or battery-powered blowers, the time-honored raking method or just leaving the leaves in your yard. Natural mulching of leaves (or with the help of a lawnmower) is more aesthetically acceptable, and the leaf debris will nourish your lawn and the critters that live in it.
GPLB exhaust can contain pollen, mold, animal feces, heavy metals, and chemicals from herbicides and pesticides. Scientific articles address the loud, low-frequency rumble generated by GPLBs, which poses risks to workers’ hearing, while it disturbs the community. Health researchers increasingly warn that noise is more than just a nuisance -- it can contribute to a range of health problems.
Neighboring communities have completely banned the use of GPLBs including the District of Columbia, Chevy Chase Village, and the Town of Somerset. Montgomery County is currently considering a ban of its own. For our health and the health of our environment, the writing is on the wall: we need to learn to live without GPLBs.
One Person’s Trash Is Another’s Treasure (October 2022)
As the October 8-9 Trash and Treasures collection approaches, think about whether the pile in front of your home or your neighbor’s might contain treasures fit for upcycling or repurposing. When I moved to the Town about 30 years ago, I was intrigued by all the “treasures” I found curbside, began upcycling and repurposing and have done it ever since. It’s fun, saves money, is great for family/kid projects, results in unique pieces, and keeps stuff out of the landfill!
The terms are used interchangeably, but in general an upcycled item is used for the same or similar function, while a repurposed item is altered to become different or better. It’s easy to add lamp shade or a coat of paint to update existing furnishings or take on a larger project such as turning old stair parts into headboards and doors into desks.
Ideas, opportunities, and resources are endless. Just go to Google or Pinterest and search upcycled or repurposed. Here’s a link about kids’ toys to get your creative juices flowing: https://tinyurl.com/4efut7mb.
When you’ve explored a bit, you’ll look at those piles on our curbs and see them with new eyes. If you are not into upcycling or repurposing, you can facilitate this for others by segregating upcycling/repurposing candidates from true trash when you take things to the curb.
-- Sally Kelly, Climate and Environment Committee
Curbside Composting (September 2022)
The Town offers a free service where residents may have their compostable materials picked up by our contractor, The Compost Crew. A resident typically collects their materials in a suitable container in the house (e.g., a ceramic crock or small stainless-steel bin with top and charcoal filter that avoids odors, flies, ants, and such) and occasionally empties the container into The Compost Crew’s larger, tightly lidded bucket. The bucket is then put out at the curb on the evening before the weekly collection day.
Composting in this way is easy, safe, and sanitary. Households that use this service average nearly 40 lbs./month of waste materials that are collected and become a useful product rather than going to a landfill or incinerator. But only 40% of Town households participate. Why so few of us?
To clear up two common misconceptions:
- Nearly any material that was living at one time can be composted in this way. Not only soft food scraps, but also bones, eggshells, paper, many fabrics, fats and oils, plant material, small wooden pieces, etc.
- You don’t need to do any composting yourself. You simply put your compostables outdoors by the curb in the free bucket. Google “in-home composting bins” for some sample safe and easy ways to get your compostables from where you generate them to the contractor’s bucket.
Visit https://compostcrew.com/chevychase/ if you’d like to sign up or to learn more about the Town’s curbside composting program.
Stormwater (July 2022)
Due to our warming planet, we can expect increasingly frequent heavy rainstorms such as the one on June 2. Stormwater from your roof and other impervious surfaces carries sediment, pesticides, metals, salts, and other pollutants that can cause harm at multiple scales -- in your basement, yard, on adjacent properties, on a neighborhood scale, and/or in local or distant waterways. Here are some tips for dealing with these effects we are all experiencing.
- Help reduce stormwater flows from your property by reducing impervious surfaces, planting more bushes and trees (they absorb a surprising amount of water), and increasing the fraction of rainfall that soaks into the ground.
- You may want to utilize the Town's Consulting Water Management Program which is a free service to review your property and make recommendations about water management on your property.
- Consider implementing green infrastructure such as a rain garden, conservation landscape or permeable pavement to qualify for the County’s Rainscapes program. You can get a rebate up to $7,500 from the County.
- If you notice a clogged storm drain, call 311 to report it to the County. Or open a case online.
- Turn Around, Don’t Drown: When approaching floodwaters, remember that 6 inches of water are enough to damage your car and stall your engine. One foot of water is enough to float a car. Don’t drive through standing water and create waves. To prevent car damage, move your car before large storms if it’s parked in a flood-prone area.
TOCC Plant Invaders: English Ivy (June 2022)
One of the most common invasive plants around is English Ivy. It’s a problem because:
- The vine weakens and kills trees by engulfing branches and blocking sunlight. That prevents trees from making the food, via photosynthesis, needed for growth and health.
- Heavy vines and their increased air resistance make infested trees more likely to topple in high winds, heavy rains, and ice storms.
- It spreads voraciously on the ground, and when allowed to climb, produces berries that are transported into neighboring yards and forests. There they crowd out native plants and creatures that depend upon them.
- English ivy can be home to unwelcome wildlife, including rats, slugs, snails, mosquitoes, and ticks.
What to do:
- Prevent it from climbing trees. Cut the vines at the base. Pulling vines off can damage a tree so let them die and fall off naturally. If ivy’s climbing public trees, let Town staff know.
- Herbicides don’t readily penetrate the waxy barrier on English Ivy leaves. The best way to get rid of it is by pulling it up. Monitor for new growth from vines that were missed.
- Don’t help it spread. It should not go in your compost bin, in your yard-waste bucket, or on your landscaper’s truck. Bag it in plastic and send it out with regular trash.
- Plant something else! Native alternatives are best.
Links to identify and learn about other invasive plants: https://www.inaturalist.org/guides/8123
EV Resources (May 2022)
With recent gas price hikes, there has been an uptick of interest in hybrid and electric vehicles. There are already many models available but there will be *many* more options over the next 1-2 years. If you're interested in learning more to prepare for making your next vehicle purchase a hybrid or electric, here's several resources you can use:
- A 25" podcast which gives a great overview of the current state of all things EV and the flood of vehicles coming on the market in the next 1-2 years.
- Consumer Reports EV buying guide
- Montgomery County Zero Emission Vehicles Information webpage.
- Montgomery County EV Buyer's Guide (an excellent summary of all the models available now).
- Montgomery County "Take the Pledge" website which they're using to build commitments from County residents to facilitate purchasing discounts with local dealers.
Reducing Plastic Pollution (April 2022)
The widespread use of plastics that began after WWII was viewed as a great boon to modern society, but it has also created one of the most pressing environmental issues facing the world: the overwhelming global tide of plastic pollution that threatens our oceans, waterways, and wildlife. And if you think plastic recycling is a panacea, read about the important and interesting NPR and PBS investigation on the subject (search “NPR plastic recycling”). On the positive side, at a UN meeting last month, 175 nations agreed to create a UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution by 2024. Here are some actions we can take to change our plastic habits right now. Your choices and voices make a difference!
- Stop buying bottled water! Instead, buy reusable water bottles. Our tap water is fine, but you can also buy a filter for your kitchen sink or water pitcher with filter such as Britta.
- Opt for soft drinks and sparkling water sold in glass or aluminum.
- Remember to bring those reusable shopping bags… buy washable produce bags…encourage stores to use compostable produce bags (Trader Joe’s is now using them).
- Buy laundry detergent strips such as TruEarth or Earth Breeze rather than plastic jugs.
- Look for alternatives to shampoo, conditioner, hand soap and dishwashing soap bottled in plastic. More and more of these products are available in bar form. Check them out!
- Use biodegradable trash bags from a company like BagUps.
- Check out the many non-plastic products sold online by eco-friendly businesses such as The Earthling Company and Green Eco Dream.
- Take a moment to encourage a company to reduce or eliminate the plastic in their packaging.
Biophilia and You (March 2022)
On December 26, renowned biologist and author E. O. Wilson died at the age of 92. One of his many legacies is his book entitled “Biophilia”. Wilson argues that our natural affinity for life -- biophilia -- is the very essence of our humanity and binds us to all other living species.
During COVID, most of us have gained a greater appreciation for nature. How, then, could we cultivate and express biophilia in our Town, our homes, and personal lives?
- Pay attention. Every yard is teeming with various species living interconnected lives, to which we can bring appreciation and curiosity.
- Fear not. When we have this awareness, anxieties and fears are displaced by appreciation. Then, it’s possible to adopt an attitude of “cultivate and care” rather than “control and eliminate” to live with backyard nature.
- Follow the science. People who spend time in nature are proven to be more mentally and physically healthy.
- More is more. The oft repeated “less is more” doesn’t apply here. A diverse biome brings greater enjoyment and environmental resilience.
- Less is more. Well, maybe it does apply. All of our choices affect nature--from pollution in our immediate surroundings, to use of resources.
- We are not alone. When we express biophilia, we’re sharing that gift with our neighbors, our children, people worldwide and future generations.
Interesting and Eco-Friendly Gardening (February 2022)
Now is a good time to be thinking about planting and yard projects you want to do once warm weather returns, so here are some tips to create an interesting and eco-friendly landscape:
- Reduce lawn size. Environmentally friendly landscape designs mean less grass.
- Plant wisely: Choose native plants adapted to our area. There are lots of local contractors and nurseries who specialize in natives.
- Layer your landscape. This extends visual interest and improves biological health.
- Plant slopes with native groundcovers such as sedges (e.g., Carex appalachica).
- Don’t remove your leaves; they can be thinned in the spring if you need more light.
- Add pollinator friendly plants; include larval host plants (many are trees, also violets, milkweed, and parsley family members such as dill and parsley) as well as flowers.
- Plant flowering plants that bloom at different times so that there are floral resources for pollinators for the entire season.
- Aim for ground coverage with living plants (& less mulch). Include water in the garden.
- Harvest rainwater where possible. Take advantage of the County’s Rainscapes program, including up to $7,500 in rebates per household.
- Get educated: Montgomery College offers courses and Brookside Gardens, Audubon Naturalist Society, and others offer learning and experiential opportunities.
Spare the Salt (January 2022)
When snow and ice melt, the salt on roads, driveways and sidewalks gets dissolved with it, washing into adjacent storm drains, and making its way to our local waterways. Once in the water there is no way to remove the sodium chloride, and at high concentrations salt can harm fish and plant life. Salt is also a pet paw irritant, and it can seep into soil in your own yard, which can harm plants, and kill off microbes important to soil health and fertility. Here are some winter salt best practices:
- Avoid using salt if at all possible. Sand, ashes, or kitty litter are good alternatives if traction is the issue. Sand is definitely a better bet below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, when salt will be ineffective. Avoid using salt if the temperature is forecast to get above freezing for several hours of the day -- the ice will melt naturally, or enough so that you can easily scrape or shovel it away.
- Try de-icing products that are less harmful than sodium chloride. Alternative chemicals that are better for the environment are calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), calcium chloride or magnesium chloride. Strosniders in Bethesda carries several alternatives.
- If you must use salt for safety purposes, shovel or scrape first. The less snow and ice, the less salt you’ll need to use. Use the smallest amount possible, then wait. It can take time for the salt to have its intended melting effect.
- After the snow and ice have melted, if you have leftover dry salt and/or sand, sweep it up for reuse, or proper disposal. If you just leave it where it sits, it will eventually wash off into the watershed or your yard.
- For reinforcement of these points, here is the County salt website.
The Issue with Tissue (December 2021)
Americans’ love of luxury paper products is harming the environment. In the 90 seconds, it will take you to read this message, two football field-sized areas of the Canadian boreal forest will have disappeared. What are boreal forests and why should we care? Boreal forests are full of deciduous trees and conifers and cover vast expanses in Canada, Alaska, and Russia. They’re an important carbon sink which absorbs carbon dioxide -- a main contributor to global warming and climate change and they're home to abundant wildlife.
But these crucial forests are threatened, due in large part to the demand for virgin pulp to make ultra-soft TOILET PAPER, FACIAL TISSUE, PAPER NAPKINS, AND PAPER TOWELS.
Fortunately, there are eco-friendly alternatives:
- Look for recycled and chlorine-free paper products or products made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified bamboo. These are available in local stores and online. Recycled paper products (don’t worry -- not made from used toilet paper or Kleenex!) are almost as soft and strong as the “luxury brands” -- and without the negative effect on the environment.
- Use cloth rags, sponges, and dishcloths instead of paper towels whenever possible. Skoy cloths are an example of an effective, washable, and compostable cleaning cloth.
For specific guidance on the best and worst paper products to buy -- from an environmental standpoint -- here’s some helpful information from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Thanks for making climate-friendly choices!
Renewable Electricity Options (November 2021)
Reducing unnecessary electricity use is one of the best ways to reduce your home's environmental footprint. For example, at our Fall 2021 Trash & Treasures, Montgomery County hosted a “Lighten Up” booth to encourage the use of energy-efficient LED bulbs. Next on your list could be switching your household to renewable electricity supply. This will reduce harmful emissions, support the conversion away from fossil fuel-produced electricity and help the County achieve its goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2027 and 100% by 2035. Here are some quick tips for making the change:
- Easiest Option: Switching to a Renewable Electricity supplier is a fairly simple paperwork transaction. Use our Renewable Electricity Guide for step-by-step instructions to replace your PEPCO-supplied electricity with 100% wind- and/or solar-generated electricity.
- This State of Maryland website allows you to easily compare renewable energy supplier options available in our Town. (Hint: AEP and Groundswell are County-recommended suppliers because they are Green-E certified.)
- For more impact: Our Renewable Electricity Guide also discusses Solar Panels, Solar Co-ops, and Geothermal Energy for reducing fossil fuel-generated electricity use.
- This Montgomery County website provides options for residential energy switching and related clean energy topics.
Healthy Lawns Without Synthetic Chemical Pesticides (October 2021)
- Mow your lawn or have your contractor mow your lawn with the mower set as high as possible, thus allowing your grass to grow high and shade out weeds.
- Use a mulching mower, returning the resulting finely chopped grass clippings to your lawn, where they will greatly reduce any need to apply fertilizers.
- Consider aerating and overseeding your lawn in late summer/early fall. Now!
- Apply any fertilizer consistent with the MD State fertilizer law (e.g., no application between November 15 and March 1).
- If you want to use a pesticide for cosmetic purposes, use an approved and appropriately labeled organic substance.
- For the future, consider reducing the size of your lawn, converting some or all to more ecologically diverse and productive vegetation.
More information on organic lawn care and approved organic pesticides is available on the County’s website. The Climate and Environment Committee also is planning an event to inform and assist with organic lawn care.
Reduce Gas-Powered Leaf Blower Use (September 2021)
Please support the Town’s efforts to dramatically reduce the use of gas-powered leaf blowers this year and create a quieter and greener town this fall. To achieve this goal, the Town has taken the following actions:
Subsidies are available now through June 30, 2022, to support the purchase of battery-powered and electric leaf blowers, and related accessories.
Quiet Hours are in effect during which time gas-powered leaf blowers may not be used. Gas-powered leaf blowers may be used only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays, and between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
Gas-powered leaf blowers will be prohibited beginning in 2022 at any time from January 1 to October 14, in parallel with D.C. and Chevy Chase Village. Battery-powered and electric leaf blowers may be used all year. The subsidy is intended to help speed this transition.
To help ensure compliance:
- Residents may call the Town Office during work hours at (301) 654-7144 or submit a noise complaint on the Town website to report suspected violations: http://bit.ly/3jRm12r.
- Residents also may contact Montgomery County regarding noise issues: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/DEP/contact/noise.html
- Please help notify landscape companies of these restrictions.
Be Cool! (July 2021)
Now that we’re into the hot & humid time of year, here’s some reminders about keeping your family and others cool and saving energy and money:
- Install and use a programmable thermostat to optimize your cooling and savings. Set your default cooling temperature up several degrees.
- Close blinds or shades when there is direct sunlight hitting your windows. Open your windows when it cools off at night and close them when it heats up outside.
- Use fans – ceiling or household fans move air to keep you cooler and you can use bathroom or kitchen ceiling vent fans to exhaust hot air outside and reduce the AC load. If you have a whole house fan, use it to pull in cool outside air.
- Use plants and foliage shade outside of your home to reduce radiant heat.
- Turn off lights & unplug devices – they generate heat and waste energy & money.
- Make sure your interior spaces have proper insulation to reduce interior heat seepage (e.g. hot air from your attic/eaves can seep into the home through interior openings).
- Install a mini-split heat pump or window or portable air conditioner for room-specific cooling or for homes without ducts.
- Take advantage of PEPCO’s many programs for energy assessment and savings and switch to 100% renewable electricity supply for broader environmental impact.
- Have unused AC equipment (window units, fans, etc.)? Donate unneeded equipment or money to Community Forklift or Habitat for Humanity to help others.
Compost to Reduce Greenhouse Gases! (June 2021)
Only 1 in 5 Town residents is using the free weekly compost service (curbside pickup). The Town uses our tax dollars to pay for it. There's no direct cost to you if you use the service, and no additional cost to the Town if more residents participate. Why not take advantage?
The EPA estimates that in 2018, only 4 percent of wasted food was composted (2.6 million tons). Food waste in our landfills is a major source of methane gas that contributes strongly to global warming. Composting is easy and a great lesson for kids in how to care for our earth.
Visit https://customers.compostcrew.com/create-account/ to sign up for the free weekly compost service (see Town website Services/Trash and Recycling). You can compost almost anything that is 100% from plants and animals, including food scraps, coffee grounds and filters, used paper towels and napkins, other paper (though newspaper, cardboard and other relatively clean paper is probably best recycled), cut flowers and small amounts of yard and garden waste, and even wool and cotton fabric. For specific questions about what to compost and how to participate, visit www.compostcrew.com. For further questions, contact Christina Files at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the BUZZ on Mosquitoes? (May 2021)
Nobody likes being bitten, and we fear mosquito-borne disease. But mosquitos feed wildlife and even “natural” methods of killing them (yard sprays, bug zappers) also kill beneficial pollinators.
Try thinking LARGE (yard), MEDIUM (patio/deck) & SMALL (personal) scale.
LARGE: Limit breeding opportunities and welcome natural predators:
- Remove standing water -- even small amounts.
- Treat a pond, bird bath or rain garden with a form of bacterial insecticide that kills larvae without
- harming other creatures. (A popular brand is Mosquito Dunks or Bits.)
- Add movement to water: a fountain or “wiggler” attracts birds but keeps mosquitoes from
- breeding. Some are solar or battery operated!
- Invite mosquito predators with native plants and welcoming habitat: birds (especially swallows), bats, & dragonflies. Add fish and frogs to your pond.
MEDIUM: make your porch or patio less attractive to mosquitoes
- Scented plants like Citronella, Marigold, Catnip, and Lemongrass deter mosquitoes.
- Burn citronella in the form of lamp oil, incense, or candles and add atmosphere, too!
- Blow them away! Air movement not only cools you, and makes it difficult for mosquitoes to fly, but disperses CO2, body fragrances & heat that attract them.
SMALL: Protect your body
- Time your outside activity, avoiding dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Treat your skin. If you are concerned about DEET, try botanicals.
- Wear long sleeves and pants and spray clothing with a repellent.
Healthy Lawns (April 2021)
Cutting your grass short and using chemical pesticides and fertilizers can create an unhealthy "lawn desert." Here are some tips to avoid that:
- Mow high - never cut your grass shorter than 3 or 4 inches. This helps your grass tolerate heat and dry weather and suppresses weeds.
- Sharpen your mower blades often or ensure that your landscape contractor does.
- Leave grass clippings on your lawn to decompose. They quickly break down and return 50-100% of the nitrogen your lawn needs and release valuable nutrients -- free fertilizer!
- Overseed your lawn each year to have a healthy, thick lawn and crowd out weeds.
- Water infrequently, but deeply.
- Use only organic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Chemical pesticides and herbicides kill bees and other pollinators and have been banned for lawns by Montgomery County. And don't over-fertilize! Synthetic (chemical) fertilizers can easily leach out of the soil or wash off in the rain, heading directly to ground and surface waters.
- Avoid mosquito spraying which often isn't effective and kills beneficial insects.
- Reduce the size of your lawn and replace some grass with native plants and shrubs.
County Healthy Lawns website: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/lawns/
Town Healthy Lawns webinar: https://youtu.be/ugxAbyCaZE0
Recycling…Made Easy! (March 2021)
Did you know...
- Labels do NOT have to be removed from glass jars -- make it simple: rinse and recycle!
- Plastic wrappers do NOT have to be removed off of plastic container: rinse and recycle!
- Metal seals around wine bottle necks to NOT have to be removed -- imbibe, rinse, and recycle!
- Letters with plastic viewing windows can be recycled!
- Plastics 1-7 can ALL be recycled, but our current recycling program does not accept clamshells containers of ANY kind.
Attract Birds with Native Plants (February 2021)
A silver lining to the pandemic is that people are enjoying our beautiful Town environment, including birdwatching and buying bird feeders to attract them. Another thing we can do to attract birds is to install plants that support them. The Audubon Society (https://www.audubon.org) has a database searchable by location to help you choose appropriate native plants. As an example, berry producing plants are generally great for birds, but there is a red-berried plant in our neighborhood that is toxic to them: Nandina, or Heavenly Bamboo. Click here for a list of plants native to Maryland.