Author: Elvia Thompson

boats covered in shrinkwrap

Think Before You Shrink

Are you doing your part to keep plastic out of the landfills?

Join the more than 30 Maryland marinas recycling their shrinkwrap

a message from
Marine Trades Association of Maryland logo

We understand that your busiest time of year is when the wrap comes off. We know it can be a real pain to deal with piles and piles of plastic wrap. We also know that our industry is contributing way too much plastic to the landfills instead of recycling. WE ALL NEED TO GET ONBOARD WITH RECYCLING!

Some boaters are already paying to have the wrap hauled away; we have yet to find haulers who are recycling the material and, therefore, it is ending up in the landfill.

Taking advantage of our recycling option guarantees that the wrap is recycled while YOU do your part!

List of marinas in Anne Arundel County participating in the shrinkwrap program

Here’s how it WORKS:

  • MTAM will sell and distribute bags that hold up to 40 lbs. of clean shrinkwrap to participating marinas and boatyards. (MTAM will not be set up to sell to individual boaters this year.)
  • Cost of each bag is $15.This includes the pickup/transportation and recycling of the filled bags. We prefer orders in multiples of 30 as the bags are packaged in multiples of 30 and it allows us to maximize our trips to pick-up wrap. We will make every effort to make smaller orders work in conjunction with other marinas in your area.
  • Critical to the successful recycling of boat shrinkwrap is keeping it pure and clean. All straps, zippers, doors and vents must be removed for the wrap to be accepted by recyclers.
  • MTAM will schedule and notify you of your pick-up date by April 1 so you can plan for removal.
  • Only bagged wrap will be accepted.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: optional signage for your marina explaining the process.
  • In a test run, we fit wrap from a 35-foot boat into one of the bags. By further condensing the wrap, you may be able to get more into a single bag, but we ask that you not exceed 40 lbs. per bag. (See our video here for how to remove: MTAM Shrink Wrap Recycling – YouTube)
  • Questions and orders for bags should be directed to Bags will be delivered to you by March 15.
  • THINK BEFORE YOU SHRINK can also mean encouraging marina customers to purchase canvas covers that are reusable. This option, in the end, saves money.

boat with a canvas cover

cardinal on an evergreen

Rather than put your natural Christmas tree on the curb for collection, put it in your garden as a bit of habitat for birds to help them survive the winter.

Our little feathered buddies take protection from cold and wind in evergreens. Your holiday tree, wreaths and garlands can provide that protection too. Just take the decorations and lights off and place the greenery (even if it has turned brown already) in your yard until spring. You can set the tree on its side and just pile up the other greenery anywhere in the yard.

christmas tree in bin and in garden

Here is an article from the Cornell Lab’s All About Birds with more detail.

If you would like to dispose of your trees now instead:

And, if you have unwanted or broken lights, Annapolis Green will accept them for recycling until January 15. Just drop them off in the marked bin on our porch at 92 Maryland Avenue.

pumpkins & bins at Truxtun Park

We gave your Halloween jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins a dignified demise, back to the Earth.
We’re turning them into Pumpkin Spice Compost that you can order now for delivery in a couple of months!

NBC4 Washington featured our pumpkin collection
during Meteorologist Amelia Draper’s climate segment on food waste.

sad jack-o-lantern

Five tons of pumpkins are now “cooking” on the Veteran Compost farm in northern Maryland, being turned into a compost “secret sauce” for local gardens. The haul is the result of local nonprofit Annapolis Green’s Great Pumpkin Dropoff, a partnership with the City of Annapolis to collect pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns in November to gauge community interest in composting.

Residents brought 6000 pounds of pumpkins to Truxtun Park after Halloween and another 4000 pounds after Thanksgiving. Annapolis Green pulled out and donated small pie pumpkins to the Anne Arundel Food Bank.

Annapolis Green is taking orders now for the “Pumpkin Spice Compost” as a unique holiday gift and fundraiser.

“This response tells us two things,” said Elvia Thompson, President & Co-founder of Annapolis Green. “First, considering that these numbers reflect only Halloween and Thanksgiving, just imagine how many tons of food waste is dumped into the landfill every week. And second, this makes clear that our community wants to compost its food waste.”

On the farm, the pumpkins are mixed with wood chips and other food waste in big piles that are turned regularly. Heat from the decomposition process breaks down the nutrients and the seeds. In about two months, the result is a fluffy, sweet-smelling soil amendment that is great for any garden. It is Nature’s fertilizer.

pumpkin spice compostAnnapolis Green’s garden at Maryland Avenue and State Circle has served as a demonstration of how productive a garden can be with addition of compost. For the past four years Annapolis Green has sold the “Christmas Crab Compost” – the result of waste from the Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast as a fun holiday gift. No crab feast food waste was available this year so Annapolis Green is offering “Pumpkin Spice Compost” instead. Since the compost won’t be ready for about two months, the holiday gift, available on the Annapolis Green website, takes the form of a festive certificate, a stocking stuffer, redeemable when the compost is ready.

The response was incredible! We had funny and gnarly jack-0-lanterns, rotten pumpkins, and whole pumpkins of all sizes. Wow, 10,000 pounds… five tons of fruit (yes it is a fruit, not a vegetable)!

wagon full of collected pumpkins
Mike and Kim Lungociu of Black Walnut Cove collected pumpkins from their neighbors and brought them all to the Great Pumpkin Dropoff.

We collected them in ten 64-gallon totes, 11 32-gallon totes and many more that did not fit in the containers (sadly, we had to put those in plastic bags to keep the wildlife from getting into them and making a mess in the park) after Halloween and in 20 64-gallon totes after Thanksgiving. They came from all over the area. Some people even collected them for their entire neighborhood and brought them to us.

The City is charged $53.53/ton for waste removal to the landfill. So, while the seven days of composting only saved the City $267.65 in terms of dollars, the project demonstrated that if the City had year-round composting of all types of compostable materials the savings would be significant AND the environmental benefits would too.

We brought this project to the City of Annapolis and thank Mayor Gavin Buckley, City Manager David Jarrell, Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability Jacqueline Guild, and Director of the Department of Recreation and Parks Archie J. Trader III for their support of this initiative.


little boy & mom with pumpkins  little girl & pumpkin  jack-o-lanterns in bin

Next spring those nutritious pumpkins will have been turned into fantastic compost for your spring garden… Pumpkin Spice Compost!

pumpkin spice everything flyerYou can pre-order Pumpkin Spice Compost  just in time for holiday gifting for the gardener in your life, and a “Pumpkin Spice Everything” bundle. Read more.

The Great Pumpkin Dropoff is part of nonprofit Annapolis Green’s Here We Grow program to encourage home gardeners to grow food with flowers with the natural soil amendment of compost rather than synthetic fertilizers and without pesticides.

The pumpkins will be turned into compost by Veteran Compost, Maryland’s only licensed compost farm and a Founding One Hundred supporter of Annapolis Green. Residents will be able to pre-order the compost as a holiday gift from Annapolis Green along with related gardening products.

Anne Arundel County is also composting pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. Check out its Recycling and Waste Reduction Division Facebook page for details and other good recycling info.

Anne Arundel Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator Angel Woodall accepts pie pumpkins for the Anne Arundel Food Bank
Anne Arundel Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator Angel Woodall accepts pie pumpkins

anne arundel food bankA Final Note About Food & Food Composting

In case you are thinking about whether we are wasting food, we had that on our minds too. However, it turns out that the Howden pumpkin, and other varieties grown primarily for decorative purposes, just aren’t that good for eating. Have a look at this story from NPR and this story from HuffPost. Composting, rather than trashing, them is the best way to dispose of the majority of the pumpkins we received. They will go back to the Earth and help make new pumpkins that may be planted next year.

However, the Anne Arundel Food Bank accepted the small “pie pumpkins” from our collection! 




Check out our Great Pumpkin Dropoff poem by Lynne Forsman,
who had the original idea for this initiative.

Call me pumpkin or jack-o-lantern,
And whichever the case,
After I’ve been carved and illuminated,
It’s a proper end I hope to face.

At this time of year,
I make harvest hearts sing.
Pumpkin -orange everywhere,
And Pumpkin spice EVERYTHING!

Yet after my Halloween fun,
Give me a dignified demise
If you don’t bake me and eat me,
Respectfully dispose of me, whatever the size.

Thanks to my friends at Annapolis Green,
I’m hoping for the most…
To comeback and nourish your garden,
As Pumpkin Spice Compost!

annapolis green reads

by Karen Grumbles

I am looking out the window into my backyard at the marcescent light brown beech leaves all uniformly fluttering in the rain. The view comforts and entrances me. ‘Marcescence’ became one of my favorite words in the last few years when we planted a young beech sapling in our yard and I wondered why its leaves clung onto the branches in the autumn when all the other trees rather dutifully shed their leaves. Marcescence is seen on young beech trees (also on some oaks) and is believed to be the action of the leaves to hide and protect the new buds. The trees seem to be saying, “hold on there.” The leaves do it every year, have for millenia, and now we can do it too. What an appropriate message for these challenging, turbulent times.

the overstory bookcover

My beech trees’ message reminds me of some messages that Richard Powers’ The Overstory conveys. The Overstory is a rambling epic of interconnected fables and narratives with the main protagonists being the forests themselves. This is a somewhat unique novel as a man vs. nature story and won the Pulitzer Prize for Powers’ excellent grasp of the natural world that becomes a call to action on behalf of trees. The trees are communicating among themselves and, in a way, with us. The multiple characters in the book each have a unique relationship to a tree. If you are looking for a novel to compel a greater awareness of the nature around us and the importance of forest conservation and biodiversity, our book group agreed that this was a great one to read. We think that there should be many more stories written to engage the layperson on environmental issues. Maybe some should be a wee bit shorter in length though!

As Richard Powers writes: “The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” We recommend this one.

If you’d like to order the book, support Old Fox Books by ordering from this locally owned, independent bookstore. 

Our book group is discovering that we are developing a sense of continuity with our book selections. Although we choose a variety of environmental issues to read about, there is an emerging stream flowing. If you would like to join in our trip down this waterway, let me know with an email.

Our next book is The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. We are each going to prepare the same meal (recipe provided) and enjoy a virtual dinner together at the end of the month while we discuss the book.

“Hold on there” and stay well!

man in forest of big trees

AMM School in Nature instructor & kids

annapolis maritime museumAnnapolis Maritime Museum (AMM) is running a full-time School in Nature program at its Park Campus located at Ellen O. Moyer Nature Park. This program is designed to serve as support for students as they work through their virtual learning curriculum and is supplemented with AMM-led enrichment activities that focus on environmental stewardship and maritime education, including lots of nature play, art, and science!  Students love exploring our 12-acre Park before, after, and during breaks from school.

While attending School in Nature, students are able to safely interact with peers in small groups, enjoy time in nature, and get support from experienced educators. Research has shown that exposure to nature and outdoor play can improve academic performance, foster a love of learning, promote health, and create lifelong environmental stewards.

AMM’s School in Nature is available to K-5th grade students Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm.  Registration is open for daily, weekly, or multi-week enrollment.

photos by David Harp

AMM School in Nature kidsClass sizes are limited to groups of 15, including students and teachers. While working indoors, appropriate COVID-19 protocols are observed including physical distancing, wearing masks, hand washing, and more. Students are encouraged to learn outdoors as weather conditions permit and enjoy exploring the Park during breaks. Enrichment activities take place outdoors, in the woods and along the shores of Back Creek.

For more information, click here.

Local & Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert: Apples!

Apples, Apples and Applesauce

crates of applesRight about now you are spying apples everywhere and nothing could be cozier for kids and adults alike than some simple homemade applesauce.

But don’t stop there! Apples work in so many ways… adding nutritious sweetness to baked goods, roasted as a versatile side dish, or enlivening a roasted vegetable combo.

Crockpot Applesauce

Makes 3 cups; from Skinny Taste

Nothing beats homemade applesauce, making it in the crock pot is easy and your house will smell divine while the apples and cinnamon simmer all day long. The hardest part about making this sauce is peeling the apples (which is not hard at all!).

  •             8 medium apples, combination of Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala, etc.
  •             1 strip lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler
  •             1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  •             3-inch cinnamon stick
  •             5 teaspoons light brown sugar, unpacked (you can leave out for sugar-free)

Peel, core, and slice the apples. Place them in the slow cooker.

Add the cinnamon stick, lemon peel, lemon juice and brown sugar. Set crock pot to low and cook for 6 hours.

Stir apples occasionally, apples will slowly become a delicious applesauce.

Remove cinnamon stick and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth or if you prefer a chunky sauce, leave sauce intact.

Double Ginger Baked Apple Slices

Serves 2

apple slices in dishThis marvelous dish can be served as a side dish for poultry or meat or a flavorful dessert… especially decadent with the addition of ice cream.

  • 2 large apples of your choice, peel if they are not organic, but if they are, keep the skin on as it is full of nutrients
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Wash the apples and slice into thin wedges. Place the wedges in a baking tray, sprinkle ground ginger, lemon juice, and salt on the top and gently mix the ginger in. Dollop butter on top of the apples.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Check the apples after 10 minutes, mix them around with a spatula, add candied ginger and place them back in the oven.

Take them out of the oven once they soften up and start to brown .

Serve warm or cool. You can serve as a side dish, a topping for oatmeal, pancakes or dessert with whipped cream, plain yogurt, vanilla ice cream or just serve plain.

Roasted Sweet Potato, Apples and Brussels Sprout

Serves 4

apples and vegetables in a dishIn this recipe you want to prepare the vegetables and apples so they can bake for relatively the same amount of time. If you are thinking of serving for a special meal like Thanksgiving when the oven is loaded, the dish is good even at room temperature.

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled cubed in 1” pieces, lightly steamed but still firm
  • 2 apples, skin on, cored and cut into half-moon slices
  • 8 oz Brussels sprouts, cleaned, halved & lightly steamed
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch wide wedges
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a medium bowl, toss sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake on a lined cookie sheet for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

In a separate bowl, add apples, remainings 1 tablespoon oil, and maple syrup, stirring to combine.

After baking the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts for 20 minutes, add apple mixture to tray. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until golden and tender, stirring halfway through. Toss in rosemary and freshly cracked black pepper – serve immediately.

rotary logo

On Halloween morning, members of the Parole Rotary Club waved in people who arrived at the Books for International Goodwill (BIG) warehouse in Annapolis to:

  • Have sensitive documents shredded
  • Donate books to BIG
  • Donate sweaters and other winter clothing
  • Donate diapers

rotarians & donationsWonder Woman (Parole Rotary President Kristi Niedhardt, a former Annapolis Green Board member and Chair) and other light-hearted Rotarians in costume added to the fun. It was a heartwarming demonstration of the community coming together for a good cause – actually, for several good causes.

Not only did many people safely dispose of old tax records and other documents, they also did good deeds with their donations. Here are the results:

  • Shredded and recycled 5,500 lbs. of paper, saving 47 mature trees, 19,250 gallons of water, eight cubic yards of landfill space and 1,273 gallons of oil
  • Collected over 1,000 donated diapers for low-income parents of infants
  • Collected five pallets of books for BIG to send to developing countries
  • Collected two overstuffed pickup truck beds worth of sweaters/articles of winter clothing for our community’s most vulnerable people
  • Raised $680 for the Parole Rotary Foundation

And like me… many people left having bought more books than they donated. Talk about a win-win!

It Takes a Village…

shredding truckThe paper was shredded and recycled for free by Shred Instead thanks to CNR Insurance, Kristi Neidhardt Team and the Hatchel family.

Donated diapers are going to Tyler Heights Elementary School for distribution to families. Donated sweaters, hoodies and coats will go to #justonesweater and will be distributed directly to the community through Heritage Baptist Church, Eastport United Methodist Church, Asbury United Methodist Church, Feed Anne Arundel, and to residents at The Light House.

About the Parole Rotary

Now in its 35th year of Service Above Self throughout Anne Arundel County and the world, the club is comprised of over 60 members who are business owners, managers, or professionals, active and retired, and enthusiastically share and demonstrate the Rotary philosophy. The organization supports programs for youth including educational opportunities and international exchanges and provides support for professionals including vocational and career development. Its range of causes is broad, providing hands-on volunteer opportunities for members to make a direct impact on the local and international community. Read more.

About Books for International Goodwill

book warehouseBIG was created by the Parole Rotary Club. The organization provides services for recycling books discarded by current owners and puts them in the hands of new users. To date, BIG has sent 8.7 million books to over 30 countries around the world. Its next shipments are destined for Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and Mongolia, countries where books – for students and adults – are scarce. There is a great need for non-fiction and children’s books, but any gently used book is accepted at the 24/7 shed at the warehouse, 451 Defense Highway. The next public book sale will be held on December 12, from 8am to 2pm. Face masks and safe distancing required. Read more.

Particularly in these difficult times, it lifts the spirit to see good works that will touch so many people right here in our community and in far-away lands too.

Plastic Free QAC

News from Plastic Free QAC (Queen Anne’s County)

Maryland’s Foam Ban Goes into Effect

styrofoam containersAs the first state in the country, October 1 marked the date Maryland’s ban on Styrofoam (polystyrene), went into effect. This means that restaurants, schools, and other foodservice outlets are prohibited from using foam containers for take-out food and foam cups for liquids.

This is great news for the environment because Styrofoam is not recyclable and often ends up as pollution on the side of the road or in our waterways [where it breaks up into tiny pieces wildlife mistakes for food]. Maryland Del. Brooke Lierman, who introduced the legislation and saw it through passage during the 2019 General Assembly session after two unsuccessful previous attempts, states that the public is demanding products that leave less damage to the environment. She is also behind the legislation to ban plastic bags, legislation that is expected to pass during the 2021 session.

The foam ban law was originally scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but because of COVID-19, it was delayed until October. However, July 1 did mark the date for making it illegal for retailers to sell these items. You may have noticed that Styrofoam cups, plates, and clamshells were taken off the shelves at the grocery and other stores.

Take-out food is now served in plastic or heavy cardboard. Some restaurants are concerned about the extra costs of these different service items, but Mande Gretzinger, the payroll specialist at the popular Kent Narrow’s restaurant, Fisherman’s Inn, stated that “while it is a little more costly, it hasn’t affected the restaurant greatly.” A word of warning, PFQAC advises you NOT to heat up your restaurant take-out food in the plastic container it comes in. Hot or warm plastic releases damaging additives into the human body.

But let us take a moment to celebrate the ban of food-related Styrofoam in Maryland and the end of these items that have caused so much pollution over the years.

Think Before You Shrink!

shrink wrap

Shrink-wrapping is a popular way to protect your boat for the winter, but Plastic Free QAC encourages you to rethink the wrap. It is expensive and does not protect the boat from the cold freeze. Most importantly, plastic is a major pollutant, unless you recycle. Why not choose a reusable cover that lasts five to 10 years? A semi-custom cover for most boats under 30’ costs the same as two seasons of plastic wrap. Think about the environment—we all want to keep QAC beautiful.

Fortunately, for folks who feel more comfortable shrink-wrapping their boats, there is a responsible way to recycle the plastic wrap. It takes a little work and a little cost. The Marine Trades Association of Maryland (MTAM). MTAM sells boxes of 30 shrink-wrap bags at $15/bag. Ask your marina to organize other boaters to buy a bag for their shrink-wrap. (MTAM also offers half-boxes of 15 bags.)


  1. Consider not covering your boat this winter.
  2. Consider having a semi-custom reusable cover made that will last you five to 10 years.
  3. Consider recycling the shrink-wrap in the spring.
  4. OR consider storing your boat in a climate-controlled boat storage unit.
annapolis green reads

by Karen Grumbles

You know the experiences where you are walking through a nature area and you hear the sounds of many birds, see all the different bugs skittering around on the ground and the strikingly beautiful butterflies fluttering around above the shrubs? We all tend to gravitate to places like Quiet Waters Park and Jug Bay Natural Area just for those kinds of experiences. Annapolis Green Reads Book Group picked Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants for its October read so that we can all learn how to bring that wildlife to our own yards and community spaces.

bringing nature home bookcover

Doug Tallamy talks about how we need many more of those spaces and that they need to be all around us in order to truly have a healthy, functioning ecosystem. He is a scientist, a specialist in entomology, with some important knowledge to impart.

He has studied the relationship of particular plants to insects, caterpillars, and butterflies to see which ones use the plants for food and for habitat. The insects as food source then beckon the birds and reptiles and other mammals to take up residence. He introduces us to a variety of native plants that are best for this ecosystem and even identifies “keystone” plants, those that benefit the largest variety of critters. As one member of the group said, “Everybody should have at least one oak tree in their yard.”

A memorable lesson from the book is that plants that are not native are frequently useless to the insects that we need for a healthy ecosystem. The reason that the beautiful Crepe Myrtles stay looking so pristine all year round is because no insects are using them for food. Ditto for the Norway Maple and the Bradford Pear tree. Why would we want to give our precious yard space to plants that serve no purpose in the environment?

The obvious response is that they are pretty. As we think through this some more, it starts to get really interesting because as the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” We start thinking about who decides what constitutes ‘pretty’ in our urban and suburban yards? Is there a native plant that might be just as attractive as the non-native one we’ve been thinking about getting? We could even ask, ”Does the wildlife see these non-native plants as attractive?” because we really aren’t a keystone species for sustaining a healthy environment, other than fixing what we’ve broken.

In our book group, we all seem to have an appreciation for Tallamy’s perspective on the ecosystem. Humans have destroyed natural spaces and he provides the fundamentals for how to bring those spaces back and build a healthy ecosystem by starting with planting natives.

The second half of this book is a useful reference resource with native plants matched to the insects they attract. We discussed whether landscape gardeners are educated on this approach and what other resources are available*, that incentives for communities to plant natives might make a difference, and the importance and challenge of removing invasive species such as the dreaded phragmites and Japanese stiltgrass.

Tallamy has a new book out entitled Nature’s Best Hope that gives some practical steps on how to improve the spaces around us with native plants as a grassroots effort. It’s on our list of possible feature reads.

If you’d like to be included in our book group, please contact me. We would like to meet at Old Fox Books and support a local business but for now, because of COVID, we’re meeting via Zoom. Our November book is the 2018 Pulitzer winning novel The Overstory by Richard Powers.

Essential Native Trees & Shrubs book coverKaren Grumbles

*Annapolis Green sells a reference book that I am planning to ask for as a Christmas gift entitled Essential Native Trees and Shrubs for Eastern U.S.: The Guide to Creating A Sustainable Landscape by Tony Dove and Ginger Woolridge!

Learn more about our book club, Annapolis Green Reads.


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