Gaithersburgâ€™s Environmental Affairs Committee honored the Kentlands Community Foundationâ€™s GO GREEN group, along with 18 other organizations and businesses, at the cityâ€™s 11th Annual Environmental Awards ceremony April 16.
The GO GREEN group, which won an environmental award last year as well, has worked with the Kentlands Citizensâ€™ Assembly to examine the use of pesticides in lawn care. In 2012, the group convinced the homeownersâ€™ association to set up an experiment in which different Kentlandsâ€™ common areas are treated with synthetic pesticides, non-synthetic variants or no chemicals at all.
â€śWe wanted to see if the public spaces could be maintained adequately using organic options,â€ť Community Foundation Director Carrier Dietz said. â€śThe jury is still out to see if we can get a good enough result by not using synthetic pesticides, but it looks promising.â€ť
Alex Stavitsky-Zeineddin, co-chair and founder of the GO GREEN group, said results should be available in about a month. She added that Kentlands tot lots are currently pesticide-free.
Also in 2012, the GO GREEN group invited quarterly speakers to discuss environmental issues and sponsored a public showing of the film â€śBag It,â€ť a documentary about the use of plastics in everyday life. Stavitsky-Zeineddin said the group hopes to show similar films twice a year.
On top of that, the Kentlands Community Garden, which the GO GREEN group started but is now run by a separate committee, is in its third growing season using organic practices.
â€śThe gardenâ€™s first two years were wildly successful,â€ť Dietz said.
School outreach projects sponsored by the GO GREEN group included an environmental fair at Rachael Carson Elementary School at which local businesses and groups like the Muddy Branch Alliance presented hands-on educational exhibits for students.
Also recognized by the city was Diamond Elementary School, which received a 2012 environmental award for its efforts to encourage students to use proper recycling practices. In particular, the Diamond Student Government Association (SGA) sponsored an art contest to teach students about recycling.
Robyn Strauss, school counselor and SGA advisor, said the art was made of recyclable materials.
â€śEach class made amazing sculptures and learned about recycling through the process,â€ť she said. â€śAfter the contest, students really improved their recycling efforts. We found a lot less paper in waste baskets.â€ť
Among the other schools and organizations to receive environmental awards were Brown Station Elementary; Gaithersburg Elementary, Middle and High schools; the Muddy Branch Alliance; and Izaak Walton League of America.
Lakelands Ridge residents Deb Choupin and Marty Stombotne were given a certificate of recognition for regularly patrolling their community to care for trees, plants and shrubs, as well as to pick up garbage. The two are members of the Lakelands Ridge Landscape Committee and also chair a neighborhood Pond Day to educate residents about the importance of the communityâ€™s stormwater management pond and coordinate volunteers to help with environmental restoration projects.