TOWSON, MD – Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski celebrated Earth Day in Randallstown, hosting a stream cleanup and calling attention to the need for everyone to help reduce the litter that degrades communities and threatens waterways.
He spotlighted two new anti-litter promotions – his BaltCo Litter Blitz promotion, and a new anti-littering ad campaign – speaking to a crowd of dozens of community members and representatives of environmental organizations, including the National Aquarium and local watershed protection groups.
Baltco Litter Blitz promotion asks everyone to snag some litter
The County Executive launched BaltCo Litter Blitz, a grassroots outreach effort that asks people in Baltimore County to pick up some litter this April and May – either as a DIY effort or through a community cleanup – and share their efforts online using #BaltCoLitterBlitz or #trashtag.
“We all have a responsibility to respect and take care of our waterways,” said Olszewski. “Earth Day is a great reminder to everyone that we can make a difference in our neighborhoods. If each of us stops to pick up litter when we’re out walking or at our kids’ outdoor activities, we can make a huge difference together in our neighborhoods and help protect our local environment.”
Details of the initiative, including a list of community clean-ups hosted by the County’s watershed protection partners, are available on the County’s website.
In addition to promoting volunteer efforts, the County’s Code Enforcement inspectors are conducting an Earth Month series of commercial dumpster sweeps in various locations around the County to emphasize compliance with regulations designed to prevent overflow and spillage of trash.
Litter doesn’t stop where it drops campaign connects litter to food supply
Olszewski also announced an anti-littering campaign, whose slogan, Litter Doesn’t Stop Where it Drops, communicates that when litter hits the ground, wind or rain carries it down the nearest storm drain and into a stream. In addition to being unsightly, litter contains dangerous bacteria and toxins that pollute waterways, harm aquatic life and can even contaminate fish and other seafood.
“A staggering amount of plastic pollution enters Maryland’s waterways each year, and the National Aquarium is committed to doing its part to defeat this threat,” said John Racanelli, National Aquarium President and CEO. “Plastic pollution poses a serious risk to Maryland wildlife and the habitats they depend on for their survival—and single-use plastics are the worst of the worst. We are pleased to partner with County Executive Olszewski and proud of his team’s efforts to clean up Baltimore County’s bountiful natural environment. Together with County residents, we can all do our part to prevent litter from entering our streams and bays.”
County is required to reduce trash in the Gwynns Falls and Jones Falls
Baltimore County is one of six jurisdictions in the United States that are under federal mandates to reduce trash in specific waterways (Baltimore County and City for the Gwynns and Jones Falls; Washington D.C., Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties for the Anacostia; and Los Angeles County).
This Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) mandate is based on the federal Clean Water Act and is issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment as a “pollution diet.” The TMDL states that each year 159,626 pounds of trash need to be stopped from entering these waterways in Baltimore County from storm drains, in order to help eliminate the trash impairment of the Baltimore Harbor.
The County is currently implementing Phase 1 of the strategy for reducing trash in these waterways, which involves monitoring and community engagement. If in ten years this method does not reach the goal, the County would move to Phase 2, which involves very expensive high-maintenance structural changes like litter trapping devices.
Join the Adopt-A-Road and Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge Programs
In addition to the two-month Litter Blitz promotion, Olszewski encourages people to participate in the County’s year-round litter collection programs, Adopt-A-Road and the Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge.
The County’s Adopt-a-Road program currently includes about 90 groups who pick up litter along a designated section of County roadway at least four times per year. Eligible adopters include civic and non-profit organizations, school groups, commercial and private enterprises, families and individuals. For more information, call the Bureau of Highways at 410-887-3560.
The Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge allows groups who conduct a 15-minute litter cleanup to designate a BCPS school to earn credit towards grants to fund school-based environmental projects like outdoor classrooms, butterfly or rain gardens and nature educational opportunities for students. This program is a joint initiative of the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools, the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability and the school system.