The Christmas Tree Shopping dilemma

The Christmas Tree Shopping dilemma

Every year at this time we scope out whats being said about real vs. artificial Christmas trees, and while Green Frederick leans towards buying a re-plantable LOCAL real Christmas tree, there are considerations.

Take a look at Earth 911’s assessment here, with some key excerpts below:

Artificial Tree Pros:

  • Reuseability
  • Cost effectiveness

Artificial Tree Cons:

Artificial trees are typically manufactured with metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. In addition, many older varieties may contain lead, used as a stabilizer in the manufacturing process.

Despite their PVC contents, artificial trees are nonrecyclable and nonbiodegradable, meaning they will sit in a landfill for

An artificial tree from the authors living room.

centuries after disposal. An artificial tree will last on average five to seven years, meaning you’ll eventually have to dispose of it, and many secondhand stores will not accept them. There’s also no guarantee the LED lights will last the whole time you own it, and they can’t be removed and replaced like with a real tree.

Decorating a tree from Dreamland Christmas Tree farm, Jefferson, MD

Furthermore, approximately 85 percent of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are imported from  China, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), adding to their overall environmental footprint.

Approximately 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in North America each year, according to the U.S. EPA. Luckily, about 93 percent of those trees are recycled through more than 4,000 available recycling programs.

Real Christmas Tree Cons:

  • Cost: Spending $40-$70 every year is not a cheap alternative.
  • Landfilling/incineration: if not recycled into mulch/compost, real trees add to our global disposal burden.

Other considerations from Earth911:

Real Christmas trees, they are farmed as agricultural products, meaning repeated applications of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers may be used throughout their lifetime.

Emmitsburg Nuns Prioritize People AND the Planet

Three cheers to the North County Daughters of Charity!

They combined their order’s mission of serving the disadvantaged with their goal of stewardship of the earth—all in one project, the Seton Center.

The Seton Center, a community center providing job training and preparation, dental services, a secondhand store and community meeting space among other services, opened its new building this year as a sustainable project featuring:
*permeable pavers
*solar panels
*energy conservation measures
*low-flow toilets and other water conservation resources

The building houses eight office where 11 staff members work, as well as space for social services and job training agencies who need a meeting place in the North County to meet.

Permeable pavers are made of porous material and drain rainwater quickly after it hits the parking lot, feeding it into the ground rather than washing into storm sewers.

Sister Martha and the staff can continuously monitor energy useage (or lack thereof!) in these meters.

 

The Seton Center encourages employees and patrons to bring reuseable bottles that can be filled easily at the fountain.

The Center began in 1969 at its building outside of town—a building that was only supposed to last 10 years, but lasted until 2017. A new center was needed to replace the deteriorating steel structure, and the order decided to use a piece of the property originally left to them in 1809 by Elizabeth Ann Seton, rather than go through an annexation process on the old county land.
They decided from the get-go to go green.

“Its in the mission of the daughters of Charity to care for the earth,” said Sister Martha Beaudoin, executive director of the Seton Center. The religious order around the world is 16000 strong, with presence in 93 countries, and is known for projects such as digging wells and working on clean water. “This project goes with what the sisters have done in the other countries.”

The sisters have also watched the sustainability achievements of Mayor Don Briggs and the Emmitsburg town staff, and wanted to get on board with their own facility!

They instructed Morgan-Keller, the general contractor, and their architect, Scott Bowen of Washington County, to find cost-effective, sustainable solutions, and felt that they did good work in bringing the building in on budget with its sustainable elements.
And its working – Sister Martha says even with the larger (13,000 square foot), and differently shaped building, “The electric bill used to be $1,300 a month; now its $800 a month!”

Natural light and low-energy lighting filters into the Seton Center’s new store.

State Tree Nursery Now Accepting Orders

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is now accepting online orders for shrub and tree seedlings from the John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery for the spring 2019 planting season.

The nursery offers more than 50 species of shrubs and trees for large-scale plantings on private land to meet a wide variety of conservation, environmental and reforestation needs. It also offers 20 different “pollinator friendly” options.

A minimum order of 25 seedlings per species is required, and supplies are limited. 

Nursery customers are mostly individual landowners. Shrub and tree plantings provide both economic and environmental benefits, including cleaner air, energy conservation, filtering and retaining water and essential habitat for wildlife.

click here for more info.

McClintocks Distilling: Sustainable Spirits

McClintocks Distilling: Sustainable Spirits

When Braeden Bumpers and Tyler Hegamyer went into business in downtown Frederick, becoming successful at distilling spirits made from organic feedstock was their primary focus.

They have become green champions in Frederick County and the State of Maryland along the way.

As a result of their search for sources of organically grown grain not only in the county but in the entire state,  they accomplished two important things: becoming the first certified organic distillery in the state (and one of three on the East Coast) and providing the buying power for a Frederick County farmer to grow them organic grain..

Charles Brault, a Thurmont farmer, now supplies McClintocks with 100-120 tons per year of organic corn and rye, in several varieties*, used in the mash and process for making the vodka, rye whiskey and gin that the Frederick business sells.  (Brault  also provides grain to Baltimore Spirits Company, Grey Wolf Distilling in St Michaels, Seacrest in Ocean City).

“Originally, we had to buy all the way from Ohio because we couldn’t find any organic grain locally,” Bumpers said. Ninety-five percent of the grain growing in Maryland is treated with pesticide, Bumpers said.

Braeden and the Braults met when the business was gutting the old Ideal Garage on Carroll St, where they are located; and struck up a conversation about McClintocks’ desire to be organic. Brault, having been certified organic by the Maryland Department of Agriculture since 2006, said supplying McClintock was a “no brainer”.

Growing organic is also a financial plus for the Braults: “Farm gate prices for food grade organic grain are the highest available. Organic grain prices generally run about 3 times that of conventional grain. There is a huge shortage of domestically grown organic grain. Most of it now comes from overseas: Turkey, Ukraine, South America. This has been driving down prices for domestic producers,” Brault said..”

McClintocks also has a system of reusing all the water input into their distilling process—a heavy water user–  by reusing cooling water rather than sending it to the wastewater system for treatment.

“We’re almost waste neutral,” Bumpers said, with their brewery waste also being fed to pigs at a northern county hog farm. They are buying all their power from wind farms.

Braeden said McClintocks’ is proud of the sustainable work they are doing.”We didn’t really set out to be “green” but it just turned out that way,” he said.

 

See more about their environmental impacts here: http://www.mcclintockdistilling.com/blog/2018/4/30/how-to-drink-green-this-year

 

*Open pollinated corn: Boone County White, Bloody Butcher, Krug, Wapsie Valley, Glass Gem. Rye varieties (also open pollinated) Brasetto and Abruzzi.

Farm to Table? Not So Easy! Help To Work for More Local Food in Schools and Hungry Bellies

I’ll bet you may not have known:

*That more of our farm production in Frederick County goes to commodity crops than produce and local restaurants and consumers?

*That 90% of the food consumed in our county comes from outside Frederick County?

*That Frederick County Public Schools nutritionists must plan menus weeks in advance due to complicated federal nutritional guidelines, making it really hard to react to local crop and growing conditions for local produce?

*That kids just won’t eat sweet potatoes if they aren’t used to getting them at home? (which most don’t these days!)

These are just some of the challenges Frederick County’s first Food  Council is tackling.

The group has  been meeting since spring, and is looking at:

*How to get more produce from “local” sources (which may need to be redefined more broadly than just Frederick County due to the low quantity of fruits and vegetables  grown here now);

*How to connect need for food (outside of local food banks, which have been the source until now) with food that is being thrown away

*How to connect local farmers and large buyers to make it economically attractive for Frederick County’s farmers to grow fruits and vegetables

The first big project of the Food Policy Council, under the banner of Community F.A.R.E. (Food Access Resources & Education), a local non-profit dedicated to promote local food to ensure biodiversity, farmland preservation and a connection to local food sources for local consumers.

The groups first project is a Farm to School grant from the US Department of Agriculture. It pairs Community FARE and the Frederick County Public Schools to bring local fresh food to five Title I elementary schools in Frederick—Lincoln, Waverley, Monocacy, Hillcrest and North Frederick.  It will focus on connecting farmers as potential suppliers; aligning nutritious habits in already existing curriculum; and encouraging school gardens. “Kids don’t understand where our food is coming from; when they grow it, they will eat it,” said Alysia Feurer, the grant manager..

Community FARE is looking for parents and local citizens to serve on an advisory group for the grant. If you are interested, contact Alysia here.

There are other focus groups of the Food Council that have met a few times to discuss various polkcy issues, and are looking for more members and leaders: Agricultural EconomicsLocal Food Access and Food Education.

 

For more info click here.

 

 

Environment-& Health-Benefits of Electric Bikes Comes to Frederick

Cycling is an activity that has been established as good for both the environment and your health.

Yet some of us find our cycling potential cut back for various reasons: an injury or disability, the aches and pains of aging, or just plain hills whose difficulty make for good views but too-challenging climbs.

Motorized cycles have become the answer to many for those challenges—and they have come to Maryland in their first (and now only) store for the Pedego brand, found in California and other states.

Green Frederick talked to Mimi Zee, one of the co-owners with Scott Alexander and Todd Ricci, about how the bikes work and how people are already using them.

Scott first came up with the idea as a passionate Fredericktonian who wanted to bring a useful product/service to his hometown; it opened last June and has already sold well for a number of reasons, they say.

“It’s good for people with disabilities,” Mimi says, who have mentioned in their purchasing process that most bikes made for disabled people draw notice because they aren’t designed to LOOK like bikes. Pedego bikes, they say, do.

pedego bikes

Mimi Zee, one of Pedego’s co-owners. The store used LED lighting as its source.

Other buyers either have work situations where they work from home or don’t have a distant commute. So for financial, environmental or parking reasons, people want to shed their cars. The cargo bike holds 400 lbs. in addition the rider.A group of siblings wanted their aging father to be able to get around on short trips but did not want him driving, so all chipped in to get him a Pedego bike that he loves.“This is going to be that guy’s key to independence,” Mimi says.

Others who previously cycled frequently threw in the towel when their muscles and joints no longer could take the long rides. “People come back and say not that they have our bike we’re doing things we never did,” Mimi says.

How They Operate
Of course, it’s not necessary to give up all exercise with these bikes . You can choose not to use the motorized element of the bike, or only use it on low to require more exertion. On the other hand, the ability to “power up” can give people the confidence to get through a stoplight or a busy pedego frederickintersection, and power down for regular riding.
The bike holds a lithium battery, weighing about 9 pounds, which most people lock up or carry into their destination when not in use. It charges in a regular electric outlet, and holds the charge for a one-hour ride, on average.
Buying One
The average bike Mimi says, costs an average $3,500. While some people look at retrofit kits which are less expensive, they often find they the retrofits are not quite as easy to ride, Mimi says. Retrofits to existing bicycles do not account for the weight of the battery in their design for rider weight. Additionally, people who buy bikes at Pedego receive service for repairs at the shop.
Pedego offers test drives to customers; bring your helmet, or use one there.
Environmental Benefits:
Estimates in the electric bike world claim the average e-bike battery uses .4-.7 KW hours of power per charge (Pedego says its bike is .72) , which could provide juice enough to cover more than 50 miles. The amount of carbon required to generate the electricity depends on the electricity source; fossil fuels will have a large impact
Grist magazine, in a recent article, tackled the issue of transportation: “An estimate by the National Association of City Transportation Officials found that 7,500 bikes can move through a two-way protected bike lane in an hour, compared to the 600 to 1,600 car passengers that can squeeze into the same single lane of road in the same amount of time.“ And, using the data from a study in Norway, the University of Washington determined that if every American living within five miles of their work were to commute by bike (without taking into account power/resources used to create the bikes, or the cars) at least one day a week, it would be like taking a million cars off the road entirely.

“Motor vehicles produce more than 30% of carbon dioxide, 80% of carbon monoxide, and 50% of nitrogen oxide emissions each year in the U.S.,” the University of Washington estimates.

OTHER RESOURCES:
Pedego Electric Bike info: https://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/info/
“Will E-Bikes Help the Environment”, University of Washington: http://www.conservationmagazine.org/2015/03/will-e-bikes-help-the-environment/
More tips on Electric Bikes: https://www.cynergyebikes.com/about-ebikes-s/117.htm