Public Participation/Involvement

composting and rain barrels

Rain Barrel updated

Image Credit: Athens Clarke County Government

Composting is a great way to ensure your flowers receive nutrient rich soil while providing the additional benefit of being environmentally friendly. Organic waste in land fills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas, during decomposition. Composting organic waste in aerobic (the presence of oxygen) conditions as opposed to anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions significantly reduces the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. Additionally, composted soil reduces, and in cases, eliminates the need for chemical fertilizer in your garden. Lastly, composted soil is extremely nutrient rich which promotes growth, enhances water retention, and provides carbon sequestration. Additional information can be found in the additional information tab below 

Rain barrels provide environmental benefits of conserving fresh water while saving you money in the process. According to the EPA over 40% of all household water use in summer months is used on lawn and garden maintenance.

Rain barrels, which are commonly connected to a downspout system,  collect run off from impervious areas on rooftops that would otherwise be directed into the storm drain system, and store it for later use.   That rainwater, which is free from chemicals found in tap water, can then be used to water plants and lawns.  Its a win for your wallet and win for the environment. Additional information can be found in the additional information tab below


Image credit: Pro Home Improvement Inc. 

Additional Information On Rain Barrel's and Composting

planting native species

Black Eyed Susan

Image Credit:

When you include any kind of plant in your garden, you impact the natural areas near your home. Your garden plant cross-pollinates with wild plants, and may even disperse seeds or berries into natural areas. When the plant you have included is locally native, your garden actually benefits wild plants, pollinators, and songbirds. Currently, an increasing number of foreign invaders, plants and  animals with no natural predators, are endangering Maryland's native habitats. These invasive species out-compete native plants and animals, resulting  in a loss of Maryland's biodiversity. Want to plant natives? Consult this list of native plants recommended by The University of Maryland Home and Garden Center.  

Over the course of evolution, many local plants and pollinators have co-evolved together to create a specialized relationship within the food web. According to the University of Maryland Home and Garden Center,  many insects can only eat the plants they co-evolved with. One shining example of this is found with the Monarch Butterfly. 

Monarch Butterfly larvae populations require a plant known as Milkweed to survive. Milkweed, a native plant in Maryland, has seen its population significantly decrease as a result of urbanization and herbicide use within the United States. According to a Study by the Royal Entomological Society, the decrease in Milkweed, along with factors such as habitat loss and increasing temperatures, is positively correlated to a decrease in Monarch populations. Planting milkweed is a great way to attract Monarchs, keep your garden native, and contribute to the conservation of this beautiful insect. Check out the anecdote below about a man who successfully reintroduced a butterfly to the San Francisco area. 

monarch on milkweed

Image credit: Beth Waterbury, Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife

having doubts? meet the "Butterfly Whisperer"

Meet Timothy Wong, an aquatic biologist from California Academy of Science responsible for reintroducing the California Pipevine Swallowtail to the San Francisco area. Using self taught techniques he began by introducing 20 caterpillars to his enclosure filled with native plant species located in his back yard. After about 3-4 weeks the caterpillars pupate and emerge 2 weeks to 2 years later depending on environmental conditions. As of 2017, Wong introduced thousands of caterpillars to his garden. He contributes a lot of his work to cultivating more than 200 pipevine plants in his backyard oasis. For the first time in decades, Wong was able to reintroduce the butterfly to San Francisco. Information and pictures used in this article were sourced from

Butterfly whisperer

oil recycling

Are you a "do-it yourselfer" when it comes to automobiles? If so, you too should be aware of the dangers of improperly handled motor oil. According to the EPA, used oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water — a years’ supply for 50 people! Recycling oil saves valuable natural resources by reducing the amount of virgin oil that needs to be produced. It requires less energy to produce a gallon of re-refined base stock than a base stock from crude oil. Used oil can be re-refined into lubricants, processed into fuel oils, and used as raw materials for the refining and petrochemical industries. Additionally, used oil filters contain reusable scrap metal, which steel producers can reuse as scrap feed.

Harford County provides a used oil and anti-freeze recycling site located at 705 E. Churchville Road Bel Air, MD 21014.

oil station