That’s a Wrap! 30 Day Challenge Results

This April, Marylanders across the state engaged in the #30daysofpickinguplitter challenge, started by a Baltimore City resident – Eli Pousson – who wanted to focus on daily action to help clean his community. Thechallenge encouraged Marylanders to pick up litter everyday, take a photo of the litter they collected, and post it on social media using the hashtag #30daysofpickinguplitter. While we know that folks weren’t going to pick up all the litter in all of Maryland, we hoped this challenge would bring awareness to the different types of litter people saw and how prevalent those products are in our everyday lives. Sharing photos and uniting under a single hashtag offered visual support and solidarity, and fostered pretty interesting conversations! Most importantly, it helped to inspire more people to pick up a little each day, on the way toward sustainable litter mitigation and prevention.

29683299_10216636273405570_1313515545542971404_n.jpgAfter soliciting feedback at the end of the month and analyzing some of the social media metrics, below are some of our key findings:

  • 74 people signed up through our online pledge form 
  • 10 people consistently participated on Twitter with 164 posts
  • 17 people consistently participated on Instagram with 116 posts
  • 39 people consistently  participated on Facebook
  • 23 people provided feedback in our May survey
  • All survey respondents said they will continue to pick up litter
  • 10 out of those 23  said it changed their perspective on litter and how to tackle the issue
  • The top three types of litter seen the most by participants throughout the challenge were:
    • Plastic bottles (78.3% of respondents chose plastic bottles)
    • Snack packaging (65.2% of respondents chose snack packaging)
    • Plastic bags (52.2% of respondents chose plastic bags)
  • Other leading types of litter found were straws, cigarette butts, and EPS foam food containers
  • The top three places respondents picked up litter were:
    • Around their neighborhood
    • Around their home
    • While doing something recreational
  • Counties and cities represented by respondents:
    • Allegany County
    • Anne Arundel County
    • Baltimore City – Brewers Hill
    • Baltimore City – Canton
    • Baltimore City – Federal Hill
    • Baltimore City – Hampden
    • Baltimore City – Highland Town
    • Baltimore City – Moravia-Walther
    • Baltimore City – Patterson Park Neighborhood
    • Baltimore City – Radnor Winston
    • Baltimore City – Rosebank-Brackenridge-Bellona
    • Baltimore County
    • Baltimore County – Dundalk
    • Baltimore County – Essex
    • Talbot County – Easton
    • Harford County
    • Montgomery County
    • Prince George’s County
    • Queen Anne’s County

Respondents also provided general comments on their overall experience. Some key themes and takeaways include:

  • There is desire and need for long term education programs that sustain changes in administrations and local governments
  • It was suggested to implement this campaign in other months throughout the year
  • The use of photos was encouraging for folks to continue picking up litter each day
  • Cigarette butts is a waste stream people are interested in tackling
  • Respondents would like to see more partnerships between community members, schools, and local governments to create and sustain year long litter pickup programs

We appreciate everyone who participated in this challenge and provided such important feedback across social media platforms and through our online form. Results from this challenge help inform what kind of campaigns and legislation to pursue in the future, as well as the collaborative conversation we have with nonprofit, government and community partners. Challenges like this reinforce  why preventative policy initiatives and behavior change campaigns are at the heart of our mission to create a Trash Free Maryland!

Press from the campaign:

If you’re looking for a new challenge, check out our “Don’t Let the Summer Suck” campaign! Pledge online here and learn about why straw pollution is a significant issue in the streets and in our waterways!

 

Don’t Let the Summer Suck!

Did you take part in the 30 Days of Picking Up Litter challenge? Do you want a new thing to focus on to help reduce the personal waste you generate? Then sign up to participate in the “Don’t Let the Summer Suck” campaign to raise awareness around straw waste and encourage reduced use throughout Maryland from June through August 2018.

Straw Resource_campaign flyerIndividuals can pledge to order their drinks with no straw if able* throughout the summer, while businesses can pledge to have a “request only” policy.  Share your efforts through posts and pictures on social media by tagging @TrashFreeMaryland, and using the #strawfreeMD hashtag.  Restaurants will have access to resources and receive recognition for taking the straw-free step!

We hope you will join a movement to tackle trash in your neighborhood, and encourage a culture that not only values clean streets and waterways, but actively participates in the process. Grab your friends and family and stop sucking this summer!

Are you an individual who has taken the Surfrider Foundation – OC Chapter’s #StrawlessSummer pledge or Annapolis Green’s “Don’t Suck. #SipResponsibly” pledge? Feel free to pledge here as well, and include that in the comments! Our organizations are working together to collectively tackle trash pollution in Maryland.

Take the pledge as an individual or make a commitment as a restaurant or food service business here!

*Some in the disabled community need straws. We plan to ensure any restaurant that takes the pledge to provide straws upon request only has straws available for those who need them.

Straw Free Toolkit

Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis Introduce EPS Foam Bans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 7, 2018

Contacts:

Chris Trumbauer, Anne Arundel County Council, 410-279-7577, ctrumbauer@aacounty.org

Rob Savidge, Annapolis City Council, 410-271-1099, aldsavidge@annapolis.gov

Susan O’Brien, City of Annapolis, 443-254-6000, sobrien@annapolis.gov

Kosmas “Tommie” Koukoulis, Cafe Mezzanotte, 443-739-3942

 

Councilmember Trumbauer, Alderman Savidge propose polystyrene foam bans for Anne Arundel County and City of Annapolis

Annapolis, Md.– Citing the need to reduce litter and promote more sustainable food packaging, Anne Arundel County Councilmember Chris Trumbauer (District 6) and Annapolis City Alderman Rob Savidge (Ward 7) jointly announced legislation today that would prohibit food service businesses from using polystyrene foam.

“Litter continues to be a problem in Anne Arundel County,” said County Councilmember Chris Trumbauer, lead sponsor of the county legislation. “With more than 500 miles of tidal shoreline and a vast network of creeks and streams, it’s time for us to join the club and keep this harmful material out of our waterways.”

Expanded polystyrene foam is a food packaging material that never biodegrades. It cannot be recycled at any recycling centers operated by cities or counties in Maryland. Studies have shown that exposure to polystyrene foam particles is harmful to fish and other wildlife. More than 100 jurisdictions in 11 states have passed legislation prohibiting polystyrene foam, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore City, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.

The county legislation will be introduced at the May 7 County Council Meeting at 7pm.The bill is modeled after Baltimore City’s legislation, recently signed by Mayor Catherine Pugh. The bill would take effect on September 1, 2019, giving businesses more than a year to phase out polystyrene foam. The legislation also directs the county to provide education and outreach about the ban and includes a provision for a warning before any business is issued a citation. The legislation will be cosponsored by Republican Councilmember John Grasso of Glen Burnie (District 2) and will receive a public hearing on June 4.

Alderman Rob Savidge will introduce similar legislation at the City of Annapolis Council meeting on May 14. That bill will be scheduled for a public hearing on May 21.

“I’ve participated in many stream cleanups over the years, and I see polystyrene foam​ all the time,” said Savidge. “These ​single-use ​products harm our creeks and can be replaced with equivalent products at little or no extra cost. Annapolis is ready to move beyond polystyrene to more sustainable materials.”

The city legislation has the support of Mayor Gavin Buckley, a prominent local restaurant owner.

“As a restauranteur, years ago we made the decision to stop using polystyrene foam and switch to more environmentally friendly packaging,” said Mayor Buckley. “As mayor, this proposed legislation is an important part of our environmental agenda to help reduce pollution and achieve our ultimate goal of swimmable and fishable waterways at all times.”

Businesses nationwide are beginning to phase out polystyrene foam. Dunkin Donuts recently announced it will eliminate polystyrene foam cups entirely by 2020. Fast food giant McDonald’s has also pledged to eliminate foam by the end of 2018.

Some county restaurants, such as Café Mezzanote in Severna Park, have already moved beyond polystyrene foam. “Polystyrene foam is a relic from the dark ages of the restaurant industry,” said Kosmas ‘Tommie’ Koukoulis, the restaurant’s owner. “In today’s world of earth-conscience and customer-friendly packaging, our guests notice and appreciate the difference.”

Analysis from Trash Free Maryland, a nonprofit group with a mission to reduce litter, shows that alternative materials are readily available at little or no extra cost:

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Baltimore Earth Week Events!

It’s our favorite month here at Trash Free Maryland: Earth Month! Check out the PDF below to learn of the fun Earth Week Events happening all around Baltimore this month.

 

Calendar of Earth Events: Baltimore

Join us in April to Clean Up Litter

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Sign Up to Pick up

This April, join Marylanders across the state in the 30 Days of Picking Up Litter Challenge! Use each day of the month as an opportunity to help rid our communities and ecosystems of trash, and help inspire neighbors and colleagues to pick-up and fight litter any time of the year. This challenge is an easy way for friends, colleagues and families to come together, consider the impacts of our waste, and play a direct role in immediate change.

Short term progress is often the only way to achieve long-term, sustained change. From our experience, investing time and energy into cleaning your community often inspires one to get more involved in preventing litter, reducing waste, and rethinking what we consume and discard on a daily basis.

Share that you care

You can pledge your participation online, and share your involvement by snapping a picture, tagging @TrashFreeMaryland in your post(s) and using #30daysofpickinguplitter. We’re willing to bet that the more people are witnessing others in person or via social media making a small act for a better world, they will then feel inspired to take action!

One last thing

After the challenge ends, we’ll send a brief questionnaire to gather insight into your experience to inform our future legislative priorities, programmatic initiatives, and educational resources and outreach. We’ll ask things like:

  • What types of litter did you see the most of?
  • Where all did you cleanup: around your home, your neighborhood, your workplace, while doing something recreational?
  • Did participating change your perspective on litter and how to tackle this issue?

Keep these in mind, and we hope you’ll take just a few moments to provide some feedback when 30 days have come and gone!

Questions or comments? Please feel free to reach out to info@trashfreemaryland.org!

The #30Daysofpickinguplitter hashtag and challenge was an idea of Baltimore City resident, Eli Pousson. He challenged himself in April 2017 to pick a little each day and share it via social media, while encouraging others to join him.

Statewide EPS Foam Ban Explodes into Millions of Tiny Pieces Upon Death in the MD General Assembly

The 2018 session for the Maryland General Assembly has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster, and it’s not over yet. While almost all of our environmental bills have died this session, a few remain. Unfortunately, not all bills die the same. The statewide ban on expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam food packaging died a particularly tragic death. House Bill 538 and Senate Bill 651, sponsored by Del. Brooke Lierman (D-46) and Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-17) respectively, were introduced again this legislative session after many lessons learned from last year. The primary difference between the legislation this year in comparison to last year is that packing peanuts were removed from the ban, and schools and institutions were added. This was to promote consistency among existing legislation in the state, and to find compromises with other legislators.

HB 538 was jointly assigned to the Environment and Transportation Committee and the Economic Matters Committee. SB 651 was jointly assigned to the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee. A hearing for HB 538 was held on February 21st and one for SB 651 on February 27th, both of which went well. Following the Senate hearing, the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee voted on March 8th to give SB 651 a favorable report, sending it to the Finance committee to vote. On March 9th, prior to a vote from the primary committee (Environment and Transportation) – the House Economic Matters Committee gave HB 538 an unfavorable report. Both motions to give SB 651 an unfavorable and then favorable report died in the Senate Finance Committee on March 16th, rendering the bill dead for this legislative session.

We learned so much this session and will be even better prepared for next year. And without doubt we have made considerable progress this year, both with seeing Baltimore City pass an EPS foam bill, as well as the vibrant, diverse and visible support for policy on this issue at the state level that ensured litter was on the minds of our legislators. But that does not mean we are not frustrated about the ultimate fate of this bill, the least of which being because of the nature of its death.  When we look back objectively: three out of the four committees this bill was assigned to took a vote, and that was no easy feat. We also knew that with it being an election year, it was going to be hard to pass what has been a controversial bill in the past. We laid a strong and critical foundation for other jurisdictions to model our framework, as well as to keep fighting at the state level with a resilient coalition of partners invested in this issue.

Below are some of the key things we reinforced, clarified or learned throughout this campaign:

  1. Dart does not manufacture EPS foam in the state of Maryland. There are three Dart facilities in the state: two distribution centers and one manufacturing facility. That manufacturing facility only manufactures the alternative containers, and we clarified that distribution to entities in states outside of Maryland would not be impacted by this bill.
  2. Dart could potentially see an increase in jobs due to a statewide ban, since they have become the preferred provider of alternative containers in jurisdictions that already have a ban, and it is confirmed they produce these items in state.
  3. As indicated by this chart, the alternative containers supplied by Dart are comparable in cost to EPS foam. Both based on data from jurisdictions that have passed similar bans, as well as supply/demand economics, we stand to reason that this cost differential would diminish and ultimately neutralize over time.
  4. When we talk about EPS foam, people often say that it only makes up 1-2% of municipal solid waste. That is by weight, however, and in reality, foam is about 10-40% of our waste stream by volume
  5. Montgomery County Schools has offered to be a purchasing agent for smaller school districts so they can get the same low price for alternative trays.
  6. MOM’s Organic Market has offered to set up a bulk purchasing cooperative to simplify the process and provide a cost share option on alternatives containers for small businesses needing to purchase a lower volume of containers.
  7. We received 120 petition signatures from businesses pledging their support of a ban. Those petition signatures came from businesses who have voluntarily phased out their usage of EPS foam, those that have begun phasing out, and those that still use foam but otherwise recognize the importance of this legislation.
  8. We received 12 individual letters of support from businesses who support a statewide ban.
  9. Most businesses aren’t using exclusively EPS foam in their restaurants;, they are using a variety of different materials, including the alternatives.Businesses that have locations in multiple jurisdictions find it cumbersome to navigate different laws and would prefer a statewide ban that promotes uniformity and consistency.
  10. EPS foam cannot be recycled at any of the state’s recycling centers because it is not economically viable to do so. Recycling centers get paid by the pound, and EPS foam is primarily air, as well as being a difficult commodity to recycle. EPS foam also absorbs the grease of the food it’s containing, rendering it nearly impossible to adequately clean and recycle back into raw material. Claims that FOOD SERVICE foam can be recycled, not just logistically, but technically, are not congruent with existing programs, technology, and systems present or pursuable in the state of Maryland
  11. Dart operates seven EPS foam drop off centers in Maryland, where residents can take their foam to be recycled by the company. Per our investigation, we learned that most of these drop off centers have signs indicating that they won’t take EPS foam food containers, or an employee who says they won’t recycle EPS foam food containers. These receptacles are intended to collect block foam, which was not included in the 2018 House and Senate versions of the bill
  12. Plastic lined paper cups, used for hot beverages, are being composted in 3 out of the 5 food waste composting facilities in the state of Maryland: in Prince George’s County, Caroline County, and Howard County.
  13. Infrastructure does exist to recycle plastic lined paper cups. It stands to reason that greater use of these products would tip the business case scale for expanding composting operations throughout the state, in alignment with Governor Hogan’s Zero Waste Plan.
  14. Despite some claims, most methane emissions coming from landfills is due to food waste, not paper cups – thus continued reasoning to ensure the state of Maryland develops a comprehensive composting strategy to ensure the diversion of these cups – not an option with foam – can be accomplished.
  15. Dunkin Donuts has pledged to phase out their usage of EPS foam by 2020.
  16. McDonalds has pledged to phase out their usage of EPS foam by the end of 2018.
  17. We continue to gather significant data showing the success of bans in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Takoma Park, Gaithersburg, and Washington DC.
  18. Days after the “death” of this bill, a scientific report was published citing the presence of microplastics within bottled water, with 93% of samples containing microplastics.

In this process and throughout this campaign, an extraordinary coalition made up of groups representing all impacted communities was formed. Despite our disappointment with its dramatic, and yet anti-climatic, demise this legislative session,  this coalition remains energized and committed to getting EPS foam not just out of Maryland’s neighborhoods and waterways, but our waste stream broadly.

Trash Free Maryland, alongside this diverse partner network, will continue to work with other city and county councils to pass and implement their own bans. We will expand our outreach to businesses all over the state to educate them on the benefits of switching away from EPS foam food packaging. We will not stop our work to educate the public on the harmful environmental impacts of EPS foam and encourage consumer participation in driving the market away from this problematic material. Throughout all of this, we will continue our work with the Maryland General Assembly to reintroduce this bill next legislative session.

And importantly, we are encouraged by the passing of a ban in Baltimore City this month and will use that motivation to drive our efforts over the next year, including supporting businesses throughout Baltimore as they work toward implementation. We may have been asking for a #FoamFreeMD for quite some time at this point, but we won’t stop until we are there. Join us as we remain vigilant and vigorous in this pursuit!

Trash Free Maryland Welcomes New Executive Director

Trash Free Maryland is pleased to announce its recent hire of Ashley
Van Stone as Executive Director. Within this role, Ms. Van Stone will have overall
strategic and operational responsibility for the organization. Her work will include
lobbying lawmakers, managing educational campaigns, building meaningful
partnerships in the community, working with donors and funders, andScreen Shot 2018-02-12 at 9.55.58 AM
collaborating with staff on critical programs.

“Ashley is just the kind of entrepreneurial leader Trash Free Maryland needs—an
inspiring professional with a varied background focused on sparking integrated and
sustainable social change,” said Board Chair Karla Raettig. “Ashley is poised to build
on the successes of this effective environmental organization while nurturing our
potential for growth.”

Ms. Van Stone, a Baltimore City resident, comes to Trash Free Maryland after
serving for five years as Sustainability Manager for Johns Hopkins University, where
she worked across all academic divisions. She spent three years working at the
University of Florida Office of Sustainability. Prior to that, she worked as public
relations and marketing specialist at two boutique firms.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Baltimore Community ToolBank, which engages in a number of environmental initiatives to strengthen and celebrate the Baltimore community. She was a member of the Environmental Challenges Working Group of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative out of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and she has served in numerous leadership capacities with a diverse range of committees and consortiums.”

“This is an incredible opportunity to focus on the area of sustainability that resonates most deeply with me: waste,” said Van Stone. “It is energizing to identify and develop solutions that address the collective and complex challenges around what we consume and discard. I look forward to partnering with a diverse range of supporters, experts and constituents to transform what it means to live and connect socially and sustainably, and promote lasting change for the prevention of trash pollution.”

Ms. Van Stone officially began her tenure on Feb. 12th. She can be reached via
email: ashley@trashfreemaryland.org.

Expanded Polystyrene Food Service Products – Prohibition 2018

It is the 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly and we are back again with a bill to ban expanded polystyrene foam food packaging statewide! We know a statewide ban is easier on businesses with locations in multiple jurisdictions and a more effective way to tackle foam litter across the state. Check out our factsheet and please share it widely with your community, legislators, and the businesses you frequent regularly. Let’s spread the word on why Maryland should lead the charge in banning expanded polystyrene foam food packaging and see this bill to the finish line! #FoamFreeMD #MDGA18

Polystyrene Foam Ban Factsheet

More Information:

Sign our petition and let your legislators know that you want a #FoamFreeMD!

Check out the National Aquarium Polystyrene Fact Sheet.

Are you a business owner interested in alternative packaging? Here’s a list of distributors of recyclable and compostable products. Curious about how this would work? Check out the FAQ from Prince George’s County.

Baltimore City Litter Audit Report Released

From September 2016-March 2017, five auditors walked through five neighborhoods in Baltimore surveying the litter levels of each block. Those five neighborhoods were Baltimore Highlands, Curtis Bay, Mondawmin, McElderry Park, and Waverly. Auditors surveyed the same blocks on the same day of each week at roughly the same time, and rated litter levels on a scale of 1-4. We chose this methodology because it is comparable to methodology used in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. We analyzed this data to pull out important themes and establish a baseline of litter levels for evaluation purposes of our Trash Free Baltimore campaign and city-wide measures. That data analysis has been finalized in a report and is now available to the public!

What is most important to note is that this project provides us useful information for understanding what impacts litter levels and what role our campaign work plays, and can be easily replicated in future years. We look forward to conducting this project again and seeing how far we have come! Please see it below.

Litter Audit Report

October 11, 2017

Statement of Karla Raettig, Board Chair, Trash Free Maryland on appointment of Julie Lawson by Mayor Muriel Bowser to Direct the Office of the Clean City

“The board of Trash Free Maryland is excited that Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Julie Lawson to lead the Clean City program for Washington, D.C.  Julie is a nationally-recognized expert in trash and litter policy and has spearheaded legislation in Washington, D.C., Maryland and at the state and local level.  Julie was instrumental in creating Trash Free Maryland and we thank her for her leadership as our Executive Director.  We applaud the appointment, the mayor’s recognition of the importance of this issue, and look forward to working with Julie in her new role.

In the coming weeks, we will be conducting an Executive Director search to lead Trash Free Maryland’s important work to promote lasting change for the prevention of trash pollution.  We look forward to partnering with Mayor Bowser, Julie and the city on creating a cleaner, more vibrant Washington, D.C. and Maryland.”