ELLICOTT CITY, MD – At Howard County’s 16th annual GreenFest event, the County’s Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Environmental Services announced the winners of its fifth annual “Business Recycling and Waste Reduction” and “Green Community Leadership” awards program.
The commitment of these organizations to our community is significant. Actions taken by our award winners reaffirms that that there is a role for everyone in the need to preserve and protect our environment. We appreciate the dedication these county businesses and organizations have shown towards making environmentally responsible decisions.
In the “Business Recycling and Waste Reduction” award category, which recognizes Howard County businesses for their recycling and waste reduction efforts, the winners were:
- The Loan Closet of Howard County – The Loan Closet of Howard County collects donations of new and gently used durable medical equipment that people no longer need. Staff then take these donated items, sanitize and refurbish them to then redistribute to those who need them free of charge. Through its reuse philosophy, last fiscal year alone, The Loan Closet of Howard County diverted 165,020 pounds and 91,001 cubic feet of waste from entering our County’s Alpha Ridge Landfill.
- DTM Fitness – During its weekly outdoor bootcamps, hosted Monday through Fridays at outdoor recreational areas throughout Howard County (and Baltimore County), DTM Fitness participants take part in a litter clean-up as part of their cooldown exercise. Thanks to DTM Fitness’s litter patrols, locations such as Centennial Park, Meadowbrook Park and Lake Elkhorn are kept litter free throughout the year.
- Howard Community College (HCC) – With the assistance of a County Plastics Reduction and Environmental Protection (PREP) grant, HCC developed a composting program in its kitchen and dining room at the James Ecker Cafe on the Quad. To make the program possible, changes in operations were implemented and all disposable materials became compostable. Participation required education, signage and hands on mentoring by students to help their fellow peers, faculty, staff and contractors learn how to responsibly dispose of their waste. Last year, the program sent 46 tons of food scraps to local composting facilities. This year, HCC plans to expand the program to include its teaching kitchens.
- Upcycled, Inc. – Upcycled, Inc. collects plastics that most recycling plants cannot process, upcycling them into reusable building materials and turning them into new items, such as picnic tables and garden beds, which are donated back to the community. Through its main program, Waste to Wonder, Upcycled, Inc. emphasizes community engagement by organizing clean-ups of local natural areas. Through its efforts, Upcycled, Inc. has thus far collected and recycled more than 1,400 pounds of waste and litter from the County’s Savage Mill Trail area.
The Green Community Leadership Award recognizes groups and organizations that demonstrate efforts, projects or programs that help protect Howard County’s natural environment and preserve its resources. This year’s winners of the Green Community Leadership Award were:
- Howard County Library System’s (HCLS) Enchanted Garden – The Enchanted Garden at HCLS’s Miller branch collects waste from the library staff lunchroom and turns it into soil amendments that feed the garden’s soil and the community through donations. To educate the public on sustainable practices, such as composting, rain gardens, bioswales and using native plants, HCLS’s Enchanted Garden program has also created informational signs that explain the benefits of these practices.
- Savage Community Association (SCA) – A civic organization based in Savage, SCA has strived to keep its community informed and engaged for more than four decades. As part of its efforts, SCA has held parkland clean-up projects, bringing together community members to collect trash from Savage Park. Last year alone, the community removed more than 1,000 pounds of waste from the park. Additionally, SCA also partnered with the County’s Department of Recreation & Parks and Office of Community Sustainability in 2022 to distribute and plant more than 80 large trees and many more seedlings/saplings in the area.
- The Community Ecology Institute (CEI) – CEI strives to cultivate communities where people and nature thrive together. To do so, CEI’s work focuses on tangible, community-level change at the intersection of environment, education, equity and health. In 2022, more than 20 trainees participated in CEI’s Nourishing Gardens program, which transforms lawns in and around Howard County into ecologically beneficial growing spaces. The trainees contributed more than 750 hours of their time in garden installation – installing 23 gardens throughout Howard County, and engaged more than 500 community members in planning, planting and caring for the gardens. These gardens provide access to growing space to more than 50,000 community members who otherwise might not have had land to grow on.
Award winners received handmade trophies crafted by a local sculptor, using recycled metal components, as well as a signed certificate from the County Executive. “Business Recycling and Waste Reduction” award winners will also become certified through the County’s Work Green Howard program.
For more information on this year’s award winners and other recognized Work Green Howard businesses, visit www.WorkGreenHoward.org.