Baltidome Blog | Baltimore Green News

Have You Ever Been Honked At In A Crosswalk?
November 10, 2009, 12:59 am
Filed under: News, Opinion | Tags: , , ,

Maryland Shows Little Concern For Pedestrian And Cyclist Safety


Have you ever been honked at from a hurried driver while traversing a crosswalk?  Unfortunately, I suspect that, like me, most of you have.  Given Baltimore drivers feeling of superiority when it comes to getting around town, it is not surprising to hear that Maryland does not rank highly for state government efforts to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe.

Be that as it may, what is shocking to hear, according to an article in the Baltimore Sun, a new report shows that not only does Maryland perform poorly, but it is second to last in the nation.  In the report, produced by Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America, “the study ranks Maryland 49th among the 50 states in per capita spending of federal transportation funds on bicycling and walking projects”.

However state officials try to reason the outcome of the report, the pathetic ranking is unacceptable.  According to the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Maryland ranks third in the nation for increased ridership for public transportation, which means an increase of pedestrians, and bicycling is a growing mode of transportation in Baltimore.  Whether for health, the environment, or to save money, more and more Marylanders are leaving their cars at home and turning to alternative methods of transportation.  An increase in foot commuters and cyclists can be a revenue booster for local business, so the least the state can do is to cater to their safety.

-Don’t currently walk to work? -To learn the benefits of being a foot commuter, CLICK HERE.

Artists, Clean Up Your Act

Green_PaintWith the return of many artists to school comes the purchasing of new art supplies.  Most of these materials are not only toxic to the artist, but the environment as well.  Art is not something that people need to survive.  We must accept this fact and for this reason is especially important to consider what is used when making art.  I’m not arguing the virtue or place of the artist in the contemporary world.  Art is part of what makes us human and it can create much joy as well as educate or provoke inquiry into different ways of thinking. -But, as daunting as it may seem to find supplies without toxic ingredients, bear in mind that noted artists of the past were doing so centuries before we created synthetics to make our art with.

Artists are mislead into believing that acrylic paints are eco-friendly.  In fact, most acrylic and oil paints contain inorganic pigments and toxic ingredients.  Additionally, acrylic paint is essentially liquid plastic and plastic never biodegrades.  A true environmentally friendly paint option is Old Fashioned Milk Paint, which has a gouache-like appearance.  Milk Paint is available at Artist & Craftsman Supply in downtown Baltimore at the corner of North Avenue and Howard Street.

Make Your Own Paint
Natural pigments are not easily found in Baltimore, so I recommend the online BioShield; Healthy Living Paints store.  I have been purchasing earth pigments from Bioshield for years and am very pleased with their efficient service and variety of colors.  To make paint, mix the natural pigment with raw linseed oil (glossy) or pure tung oil (matte).

More recipes for non-toxic paint can be found in the book Green Guide for Artists: Nontoxic Recipes, Green Art Ideas, & Resources for the Eco-Conscious Artist by Karen Michel (retail $22.99).

Remnant Paint
Partially used cans of paint are offered for sale at The Loading Dock, a supplier of used and remnant building supplies.

With all of the waste that is disposed of on a daily basis, it is not difficult to make sculpture from used materials.  However, if you cannot find what you are looking for to make your next piece, there are some great Baltimore sources to check out.  Second Chance sells architectural salvage and, as mentioned above, refuse building supplies can be found at The Loading Dock.  The Baltimore Free Store has free monthly “flea markets” and Baltimore’s craigslist is also a great resource for used and discarded supplies.

For sources of more unusual materials, check out the Crafting a Greener World blog.  Here you can find suggestions for and where to buy green supplies (under Tools & Supplies), such as bamboo fiber fill and recycled jean yarn.

Works by Elisa Shere, Jennifer Strunge, and Will Hollman

Works by Elisa Shere, Jennifer Strunge, and Will Holman

There are many talented artists, crafters and designers in Baltimore working with used and remnant materials.  If you are interested in seeing what local artists and designers are making, check out Baltidome’s Upcycled Art & Design page. Here you will find examples by local artists and links to their sites.

Why Should Baltimore Care About A New Nuclear Reactor At Calvert Cliffs

Why Should Baltimore Care About A New Nuclear Reactor At Calvert Cliffs


If Constellation Energy has its way, the two nuclear reactors currently at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station in Maryland will soon be joined by a third.  So why should Baltimore residents care?

Here are a few points of interest:

1.    Maryland will forever be known as a state who instigated the “Nuclear Renaissance” (No new nuclear reactor has been built in the 30yrs since the 3-mile island nuclear melt down).

2.    There is currently no place to dispose of the waste.  Remember those plans to take nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain?  Well, those plans were created under the assumption that nuclear plants would eventually shut down and there would be a limit to the waste.  Now that energy companies hope to push nuclear as a “green” energy option, get federal funding and built more reactors, Yucca Mountain folks said NO WAY and the plans were scrapped.  Currently Calvert Cliffs has more than 900 tons of nuclear waste stored at the site.  So where will the waste go now?  Anyone?  Anyone?

3.    National Security.  There is no (public) evidence to suggest that Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant is a specific target. However, it should be noted that, according to a May 2009 article in the Washington Post, in recent security exercises (required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005), “At least five bullets escaped the firing range and traveled more than a half-mile before striking buildings and a vehicle near the reactors, according to the NRC, Constellation and the sheriff’s office.”  In other words, somebody shot the wrong way –toward the reactors.  Accidents happen, which is why you have exercises, but come on, you should at least know to shoot away from the giant radioactive object.  Now, do you feel confident that we are prepared?

4.    Cost.  Who’s paying for it?  According to an article this week in the Christian Science Monitor, “No nuclear plants in the US are under construction yet because they haven’t secured federal licenses or loan guarantees, many observers say. Such guarantees would become a huge stimulus for the nuclear power industry, enabling utilities to borrow billions from Wall Street or the federal finance bank.”  Yep, that’s right, if Constellation Energy starts to get going on the project, it will be because of money donated by you and me.

What can you do?

Contact Governor Martin O’Malley and voice your concern.  According to his site “We’d like to hear from you.”  So, go ahead and send him an email –CLICK HERE.

Switch to wind power.  Hit ‘em where it hurts!  You can do it with the click of a mouse and, by choosing “Clean Currents” as your new energy supplier, you will actually save money.  To learn more, CLICK HERE.

1.    United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
2.    WYPR
3.    World Nuclear Association
4.    Maryland PIRG Foundation
5.    CRS Report For Congress, February 2005
6.    The Washington Post

Super Green Was Super Interesting
Biomass stove at Mill Valley General Store. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Biomass.

Biomass stove at Mill Valley General Store. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Biomass.

For those of you who missed it, “Super Green” was a sustainability fair that took place at the Mill Valley General Store this past Saturday in Baltimore.  For more information about the fair, you can look at the post below.  There were workshops on making rain barrels, vegetable gardening, solar power and biomass, food from the Whiskey Island Pirate shop and all of the goodies usually available at the store such as organic vegetables from One Straw Farm, Zekes Coffee and sustainably cultivated milk, cheese and meats.  All in all it was fun, informative and I hope they do it again next year.

The thing I knew the least about, but learned a lot, was biomass.  I really didn’t completely understand what it was, but thanks to George L. Peters Jr. who runs the Baltimore Biomass project, I came away with a lot of information.  Basically, biomass is the fuel that is used to run the increasingly popular biomass or “pellet” stoves.  Pellet stoves are gaining traction because, as stated on EPA’s website, “pellet stoves burn a renewable fuel made of ground, dried wood and other biomass wastes compressed into pellets. They are some of the cleanest-burning heating appliances available today and deliver high overall efficiency.”  Additionally they have the potential of greatly reducing your winter heating bills and there is currently a tax credit available (through 2010) that offers 30% and up to $1500 cash back for the purchase and installment of a pellet stove in your home.  Stoves generally cost $2000-$4000 and installation is around $500.

Baltimore Biomass, which is located in the Mill Valley General Store is a conveniently located biomass co-op that offers corn biomass that is grown locally using sustainable practices by Maryland farmers to area residents.  For a link to Baltimore Biomass and more information about biomass stoves, click on the image below.