Summer is here and it is time to be air aware. In our region the worst air quality is seen in the summer and breathing the air can lead to health problems, especially for sensitive groups like the elderly, children, and people with immune system problems. Here is makes the air bad, how it can affect Mounties, and what Mounties can do to help make it cleaner.
Over the years air quality has gotten much better due to Federal and State regulations but there are still problems in the DC area. The two main types of pollution we are concerned about are fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground-level ozone, which together often get called haze or smog. Ozone and PM2.5 have been linked to premature death, heart attacks, lung disease, and asthma, there are other potential effects that are still being researched. The DC metro area is not meeting the Federal ozone standard and while it is technically in compliance with Federal PM2.5 standards many scientists say the standards should be stricter.
The air is not bad every day but there are days when air quality is a concern, mostly during the summer during the late afternoon and early evening. To get forecasts and alerts of when the air is bad you can sign up for email alerts here http://enviroflash.info. “Code orange” means the air is bad for sensitive people and “code red” means it is bad for everyone.
Much of the pollution is caused by burning fuel or releasing volatile gases. To help reduce pollution on bad air days, you can:
Take public transit or bike – cars are the #1 cause of air pollution in the DC area
Put off yard work if you use gas equipment or go electric
Don’t refuel your car since the gas vapors are volatile
Don’t paint or use turpentine since the vapors are also volatile
Even if it isn’t a bad air day, if your check engine light is on in your car, get it fixed: that light means your car probably is a big polluter.
So this summer be air aware, know when the air is bad, keep you and yours safe when it is, and do your part to keep our air cleaner.
The Green Team is hosting its monthly meeting on Monday, 5/20 at City Hall from 7-9 PM. NOTE: This is a change from the usual meeting date! We will be talking about composting and recycling education and planning for summer events.
You can also send us a message if you are interested in learning more, but cannot make the meeting.
This event is for renters, homeowners, and leasers alike! Come learn about community solar with Neighborhood Sun! Tenants, shaded households, & others can tap into a local, shared solar project. You don’t need to have a sunny rooftop to support local solar. Just join hundreds of neighbors like you, and save some money & the environment at the same time!
Our Panorama Landfill project for Pepco utility residents already has over 800 subscribers and there is a limited number of spots remaining. So, chat with a solar specialist at this event and learn how you can take 15 minutes to make the easy switch to solar. No fees to be a subscriber, no panels on your property, no hassle to join.
PLUS! We’ll be with the Mount Rainier Green Team and Joe’s Creative Works Stream Team! You can get your solar fix while learning how the revolutionary “Bandalong” Litter Trap is keeping waste out of our waterways. These groups focus on educating communities on environmental friendly behaviors while working to combat litter in our water, one stream at a time. #NoLitterLeftBehind.
Since 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency has given the Anacostia River a failing grade for cleanliness. In early 2018, the grade moved up to a D-. Properly caring for the creeks, streams, and rivers that make up the Watershed is vital to the health of area residents, to the water’s wildlife inhabitants, and for future generations for leisure activities such as fishing and swimming.
Joe’s Movement Emporium is a non-profit organization in Mount Rainier, Maryland with a focus on the creative arts. They have branched out into the environmental realm with the Joe’s Creative Works Stream Team project. Joe’s Stream Team is an environmental group, founded in June 2018, dedicated to the reduction and elimination of litter in the Anacostia River Watershed. The Stream Team is funded by a grant from Prince George’s County, allocated through The Clean Water Act. Joe’s is not alone in this effort: local area environmental groups such as the Anacostia River Keepers, Anacostia Watershed Society, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the Prince George’s County Department of Environment are vital partners.
Joe’s Stream Team clearing trash out of the bandalong.
The exciting and innovative “bandalong” device is a focal point of the Stream Team’s cleanup efforts. Introduced by the environmental engineering firm, Storm Water Systems, the bandalong device is a floatable litter trap built into a canal, stream, river, or water way. Its overall function is to capture litter in the water whether it is thrown in directly or carried by rain storms or wind. Mount Rainier’s bandalong is the first in the state of Maryland and only one of 17 in the entire United States. Joe’s Stream Team is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the litter trap on a weekly basis, sorting captured litter into recyclables and garbage, and reporting litter data to partner organizations and the county.
Joe’s Stream Team sorting waste and recyclables captured in the bandalong.
Recording the data recorded tells us what materials frequently wind up as litter in our communities. Currently plastic bottles, plastic bags, and food and drink packaging are in the lead. This helps the Stream Team know how to best move forward for a cleaner, healthier, litter free environment. On an average weekly clean out, approximately 6 lbs. of garbage and 4 lbs. of recyclables are pulled out of the bandalong. That adds up to 40 lbs. of litter a month and 480 lbs. of litter per year just from one bandalong. The Anacostia Watershed has hundreds of canals, creeks, and streams that connect to the main river body. With only one litter trap in the entire state, this is a mission that will take a lot of planning and support.
Overview of the trash and recyclables pulled out of the bandalong and prevented from flowing further into our waterways.
The Stream Team is a small yet energized group, hoping to grow in the future and gain the support of the community. Kevin McNeill, a resident of Mount Rainier, is the crew’s supervisor and project coordinator. Richie Mon and Raymond Schulter, both graduates of the Creative Works Program based out of Joe’s Movement Emporium, are current crew members. Executive Director of Joe’s Movement Emporium, Brooke Kidd, has been a catalyst for this project existing in Mount Rainier. The team color is blue to represent clean water. The Stream Team likes to say they are nature workers who combat litter and its underlying causes, mainly in our water ways.
The Stream Team has been dedicated to engaging the public about litter prevention education, awareness, and engagement. The Team’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held in Mount Rainier in July 2018, where a number of community members and partner organizations were in attendance. The Stream Team had its first batch of volunteers in August 2018. Campers from the Mount Rainier Nature Center Summer program, aged 8 to 10, learned the difference between garbage and recyclables, and learned about the negative effects of pollution on wildlife and the environment.
In September of 2018, The Washington Post visited with and interviewed the Stream Team to get a firsthand look at the new bandalong technology and how the clean outs contribute to litter free waterways. The Stream Team has also been active in the surrounding communities of Mount Rainier. A noteworthy event was presenting at the Prince George’s County Department of Environment’s Student Environmental Alliance Summit, where the Team was able to engage with and educate over 150 students from high schools across Prince George’s County. In October of 2018, the Stream Team attended Festival Del Rio in Bladensburg, Maryland and pulled over 40 lbs. of litter from the shore line in just two hours. That was only a couple hours of work in one small spot of the river. The Anacostia River is over 8 miles in length, connecting to other major bodies of water before it feeds into the Atlantic Ocean.
Until communities are on the same page with awareness and action towards properly disposing of items, rather than creating littered streets, parks, playgrounds, yards, sidewalks, and water ways, groups like the Stream Team and devices like the bandalong litter trap are a necessity. In Spring and Summer of 2019, the Stream Team has plans to call on the help of the Mount Rainier community to lead by example for other towns and cities towards maintaining clean and healthy neighborhoods. The Stream Team is always looking for volunteers and partners to join in the fight against litter. This project is only on contract from June 2018 through June 2019, but the team is confident that with the proper amount of community support, the funding needed for this good work can be replenished.
You can reach the Stream Team directly by sending an email to StreamTeamPG@gmail.com, visiting the Facebook page at http://bit.ly/2I65wAF, or connecting with @JoesStreamTeam on Twitter and Instagram. Stay connected, stay involved, and let’s keep Mount Rainier clean together!
All you have to do is drink, eat or shop at the restaurant, bar or General Store and let your server or the host know that you came to support the Community Garden. Franklin’s will donate a portion of your bill to the Garden–all day long!
The Green Team is hosting its monthly meeting on 12/10 at City Hall from 7-9 PM. We will be planning for 2019 Spring events and talking about reducing waste. It also will be the first meeting of our new chair Sarah Lifsey!
You can also send us a message if you are interested in learning more, but cannot make the meeting.
September 11, 2018 at City Hall the City Council will be hosting a Community Conversation concerning trash and recycling in Mount Rainier. The event will start at 7 PM to ask your questions about the recycling/trash cart roll out or recycling in general. Councilmember Luke Chesek, Green Team Chair Joseph Jakuta, and Director of Public Works Kourosh Kamali will be sitting on the panel.
The Green Team has decided to start a website! We thought it would be a good resource for residents and businesses to get an idea of resources that are available to them to live more sustainably. This will be a work in progress though as we add content to the site. So check back often.
Mounties! Whether you have a dog or a cat, or both it is important to dispose of your pet waste properly. We wanted to share a few pointers for you.
Let’s start with man’s best friend. Why should you pick up after your dog? Obviously it is gross and noone wants to step in a pile of dog poop when they are running to catch the 83 or headed down to the Glut. Even if you’re a dog owner hanging out at the new Mount Rainier Dog Park (Eastern & Rhode Island – open from dawn to dusk) you wouldn’t want it sitting around.
But you might be thinking that you can leave it in your yard or up in Barnard Hard Park and since no one is going to step in it it will just fertilize the grass naturally. Well it actually won’t – it can even poison the grass due to its acidity. It also can carry diseases that can remain in the soil and harm other dogs or even people (http://bit.ly/mrgt-cdc). And when it rains it finds its way into our water systems and enough of it can make rivers and lakes poisonous to swim and fish in (http://bit.ly/mrgt-epa-dp). Don’t leave that dog poop around!
But what about our furry feline friends? Like dog excrement, cat feces can carry diseases that are harmful to humans. One in particular, Toxoplasma, cannot be eliminated through sewage treatment and can be particularly bad for pregnant women and persons with immune system problems (http://bit.ly/mrgt-sc-cp). Don’t flush that cat poop!
So what does one do? Simply put your dog and cat waste into the trash.