Monday, May 28, 2018

Foam Ban Blues in Ward 8

Since January 1, 2016, it has been illegal in the District of Columbia to sell prepared food in a foam containers. The mayor and Council passed the ban at the urging of environmentalists because foam is bad news for the environment for many reasons.

Your coffee should always be served in a paper cup, and your chicken wings with mumbo sauce in a paper of plastic box. Paper and plastic are  recyclable, unlike Styrofoam. 

Two and a half years later, the DC Department of Energy an the Environment (DOEE) claims an 85% compliance, but what I've seen suggests that the rate in Ward 8 is much lower.

Foam  tends to be slightly cheaper and customers are used to it, so some business owners disregard the law. This foam ends up on our streets and in our streams, where is breaks down into millions of tiny pieces and poisons animals that eat them.

DOEE's enforcement strategy depends mostly on tips from citizens. Carryouts and food trucks are unlikely to be visited by inspectors unless a customer reports their use of foam to DOEE.

This is where you come in. Any time you are given a foam food container, or see someone else leaving a carryout food truck with one, report it to DOEE.  Reports can also be made over the phone or online using 311.

Only with active citizen engagement will the foam ban fulfill its intended goal of a   cleaner environment.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway Wins $20,000 DOEE Grant!

Huge news:

The Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway, with the Anacostia Coordinating Council as our fiscal sponsor, has been chosen by the DC Department of Energy and the Environment to receive a Community Stormwater Solutions Grant. We're calling our project Engaging Ward 8 Residents in Ward 8 Woodland Restoration, or "Ward 8 Woods"  for short. It will run from June 30, 2018 to June 30, 2019. 

Our goal is to drastically reduce the burden of trash and invasive specie not only in Shepherd Parkway, but in 
the other three large wooded areas in the Ward 8 as well: Oxon Run Parkway, Suitland Parkway, and Fort Stanton Park. We'll hold at least one clean-up each month at each of the four parks, with the goal of removing at least 50,000 pounds of trash and cutting invasives vines from 300 trees.

After dedicating thousands of hours of unpaid work to Shepherd Parkway over the past seven years, Committee Chair Nathan Harrington will manage the project and work an average of 15 hours a week. Art Slater, Director of Operations for the Anacostia Coordinating Council, will help manage the grant, and other members of the Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway will play an advisory role.  We'll be working closely with our colleagues at National-Capital Parks-East

Over the course of June, we’ll be interviewing for four Park Steward positions. Candidates must be Ward 8 residents who are unemployed or underemployed and face barriers to employment. Park Stewards will each be paid for 80 hours of work and training over the course of the year.  

We’ll be walking streets and knocking on doors to recruit volunteers, and gather information about how residents use the parks and what changes they’d like to see. With our partners at the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative we’ll be spreading the message to “Take Care of Your Trash” by not littering or dumping.

Our project is part of the Year of the Anacostia, a watershed-wide initiative to celebrate and restore the Anacostia River.

We invite all Ward 8 residents, nonprofits, businesses, churches and schools to join us as volunteers and collaborators for a healthier and more beautiful environment.