Tomorrow is Earth Day, and in honor of the 45th anniversary of the holiday dedicated to the environment, Arlington residents and workers can take part in several events around the county this week.
On the eve of Earth Day, this afternoon at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street), the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting an Earth Day scavenger hunt. From 3:00-5:00 p.m., teams will form to take pictures, find clues and solve puzzles, all with a goal of promoting sustainability. Registration is required for the event, and those interested can email to sign up.
Tomorrow, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District is providing its annual planting clinic. At the Plaza on 19th — the small public space at the corner of N. Moore and 19th Streets — from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the BID’s landscaping contractor will give demonstrations on how to plant your own garden and maintain it. Attendees will be able to take home a potted plant of their own, and one of Rosslyn’s food trucks will be on hand for the hungry planters.
On Saturday, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., George Mason University’s Arlington campus is throwing a “Go Gaga for Green” event. There will be a silent auction for rain barrels decorated by Arlington Public Schools students, a lip-sync battle, green-themed food and drink and a raffle. Tickets are $25 and free for APS families and staff. Proceeds will benefit the Arlington County Council of PTAs’ scholarship fund, GMU’s Early Identification Program, which funds first-generation college students and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment’s Energy Masters Program.
For more environmentally themed events this week and in the future, you can visit Arlington’s website.
(Updated at 10:10 a.m.) Over the next week, Arlington residents have two chances to take one more step in spring cleaning: recycling household goods and electronics.
This Saturday, Arlington is hosting its biannual E-CARE recycling event at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road), allowing residents to dropoff hazardous household goods to be disposed of responsibly.
The event will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. According to Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, these are the items residents can bring and have recycled:
- Automotive fluids
- Car care products
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
- Corrosives (acids/caustics)
- Fire extinguishers
- Flammable solvents
- Fluorescent tubes
- Fuels/petroleum products
- Household cleaners
- Lawn and garden chemicals
- Paint products (25-can limit)
- Photographic chemicals
- Poisons (pesticides)
- Propane gas cylinders (small hand-held or larger)
- Swimming pool chemicals
Explosives and ammunition, medical wastes, asbestos, freon and radioactive materials are among the items Arlington won’t accept. Residents can also bring small metal items like pots and pans, computer monitors and old TVs, keyboards, scanners and phones to be recycled.
Next Wednesday, April 22 — on the 45th anniversary of Earth Day — the Crystal City Business Improvement District will hold a recycling event of their own, more focused on electronics and office supplies.
The annual Power Purge and Shred is from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. next Wednesday at 1900 Crystal Drive. Unwanted documents and electronics will be recycled and, if you so choose, the former will be shredded and destroyed. There’s also a “hard drive crusher” on site, allowing you to “watch your data storage device be rendered useless,” the BID says on its website.
The Purge and Shred will accept batteries, old electronics — including monitors and microwaves — and will accept old, incandescent light bulbs. In exchange for the old lightbulbs, the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy will give recyclers a new LED bulb.
Crystal City’s Power Purge has recycled nearly 140 tons of electronics since the event’s inception. This year, the event will also include a photo contest, with a free class at the nearby TechShop as the prize.
Both sites will be accepting old bikes and donating them to Bikes for the World, which takes old, used bikes and repairs them, giving the new and improved bicycles to impoverished people overseas.
Image via Arlington County. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Arlington County officials promoted the Community Energy Plan approved last year in an online video released this week.
The plan, adopted in June 2013 after 15 months of community meetings, was designed to improve energy use through 2050 and set a national standard, County Board Chair Jay Fisette says in the eight- minute clip.
“A community energy plan is the next chapter of Arlington’s sustainability story,” Fisette says.
Officials explain how the county has reduced energy use in public buildings, including in the Central Library, where upgrades to lighting and other technology have cut usage by 25 percent since 2007.
Businesses and homeowners need to do their part, as the private sector accounts for 96 percent of the county’s energy use, said Community Energy Coordinator Rich Dooley.
“We’re looking at potential financial incentive programs for commercial building owners to try to get them to do more energy efficiency and renewable energy projects,” Dooley says.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will lead an effort to clean up the shoreline at Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary near Crystal City tomorrow (Thursday).
The Department of the Interior oversees the National Park Service, which is in the middle of a process of environmental and access enhancements to the sanctuary and to Gravelly Point Park, across the George Washington Parkway from the sanctuary. To help out with that project, Jewell and volunteers from AmeriCorps and the Student Conservation Association will plant “native wetland species,” remove invasive plants and clean up trash from the sanctuary’s shoreline.
The program will start at 11:30 a.m. and the cleanup efforts will go until 4:00 p.m. The cleanup is meant to not only help with the ecosystem of Roaches Run, but also to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as part of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.
“The day is going to be commemorating 9/11 and recognizing the importance of giving back to the community through hands-on service work,” SCA events manager Lori Robertson told ARLnow.com. “Because it’s so close to such an urban area and really close to the parkway, [Roaches Run] has been neglected over time. [The NPS] is trying to rehab and restore its health.”
The event is also part of Jewell and Interior’s youth initiative. About a third of the Interior Department’s staff will be eligible to retire within the next five years, according to Jewell. As a result, the department is looking to recruit young people who can be the nation’s future stewards of public lands.
“I’ve had the privilege of being out on many service projects in the outdoors with young people,” Jewell says in a video about the initiative. “One thing that strikes me is, when they get their hands dirty working on the land, when they make a difference and they build a segment of trail, they never look at that place in the same way.”
Photo via Google Maps
There will be six “pit stops” in Arlington tomorrow — five during the morning commute and one in the afternoon — that have music, free food and beverages, giveaways and bicycle vendors. According to BikeArlington, more than 10,000 people participated in the event last year.
“Arlington County celebrates biking every day,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “The County is a great place to get around by bike with more than one hundred miles of multi-use trails, on-street bike lanes and designated bike routes. Even if you don’t own a bike, Capital Bikeshare is a convenient option with 69 stations in Arlington and more throughout the region.”
The event will be held rain or shine, but those biking might want to pack a poncho just in case: the National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for this afternoon into tomorrow morning, and forecasts are calling for a 100 percent chance of rain.
Below are the times and locations for Arlington’s pit stops tomorrow. You can register to participate online:
- Rosslyn (Rosslyn Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway — 6:30-9:00 a.m.)
- Ballston (FreshBikes Bike Shop, 3924 Wilson Blvd — 6:30-9:00 a.m.)
- Crystal City (Crystal City Water Park, 1750 Crystal Drive — 7:00-9:00 a.m.)
- Columbia Pike Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike — 6:30-9:00 a.m.)
- East Falls Church Metro Station – Morning (2001 N. Sycamore Street — 6:30-9:30 a.m.)
- East Falls Church – Afternoon (Tri360 Bike Shop: W&OD Trail at Washington Blvd and Lee Highway — 4:00- 7:00 p.m.)
Bike to Work Day is a part of National Bike Month, and, in honor of the month, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is offering free classes this weekend, hoping to educate those less confident in their cycling abilities so they become bike commuters. The classes will be held at the Arlington Central Library parking deck (1015 N. Quincy Street) from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Also announced this month: Capital Bikeshare is now selling daily, monthly and annual memberships at Arlington Commuter Stores, and those buying memberships can use their keys the same day.
The Board on Tuesday passed a request to advertise a plan to have the county begin conducting year-round yard waste collection starting July 1. Each household’s annual Solid Waste Rate would increase by $13.28 per year, bringing the total to $307.04 annually, to pay for the change.
As part of the change, the county will give each household a new cart for the yard waste. The carts are expected to be rolled out in August or September.
“Residents will be able to place their grass, leaves or small brush — known as organics — in the new containers and then place it curbside for collection alongside their refuse and household recycling carts,” the county said in its press release. “The new carts will be green in color to help distinguish their function and will be accompanied by composting educational material from the County.”
The county expects the change to year-round yard waste to save about 9,000 tons of waste that will now be composted, increasing the county’s recycling rate by 13 percent. The Board first indicated it was considering this shift when it surveyed residents about composting last summer.
“Recycling yard waste year-round is an important program that promises to make a difference for our environment,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “Eliminating organics from the waste stream will move us toward setting and achieving a zero waste goal for future generations.”
Arlington’s air again received an “F” grade for smog from the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report, with days of high ozone pollution increasing over last year.
ALA’s last report in 2013 said that Arlington experienced an annual average of less than 10 days of smog that were “unhealthy for sensitive populations.” In the most recent study period, that number jumped to 11.2 days per year. A weighted average of four days is considered a passing grade.
However, the Lung Association says that Arlington received an “A” in its particle pollution grade, registering no 24-hour periods of unhealthy levels of particle pollution. Last year it received a “B” grade.
The D.C. area was the 8th-most polluted metropolitan area in the country, according to this year’s report, up from 9th last year and 14th in 2011. Los Angeles was again the most smog-filled metropolitan area.
Images via ALA
From 10:00 to 10:30 p.m., the students in Woodlawn’s Earth Force Group want everyone to dim or turn off unnecessary lights, and draw their shades or curtains to prevent light pollution. The half hour of observance coincides with Earth Day today, Arlington’s Green Expo on Saturday, International Dark Sky Week and, according to sixth-grader Samara Cathirell, “the peak migration of birds over our region.”
“Studies have linked various cancers to over-exposure to artificial lighting, including breast and prostate cancer,” said the Earth Force press release credited to Samara. “Some amphibians have been shown to come out later to feed and are missing their prey opportunities. Millions of birds die each year by flying into tall artificially lit buildings. Algae continues to grow excessively at night under the artificial lights polluting streams, and nitric oxides and C02 (a greenhouse gas) and SO2 are building up contributing to pollution.”
During the period of observance, residents are asked to go outside and enjoy what the Earth Force group hopes will be a starry night sky.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will be a speaker this Thursday at the showing of a film that examines the impact that plastic bags and other plastic products have on the environment.
The film, called “Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic?” will be presented at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. The event is hosted by Tap In Arlington, a grassroots organization campaigning against single-use plastic water bottles.
Fisette launched a “personal crusade” against plastic bottles last year, is a supporter of Tap In and debated a bottled water industry executive in January. Fisette will speak alongside the film’s director and star, Jeb Berrier.
In promotional material, the film is described as “touching and often flat-out-funny” and Berrier is said to be an “everyman… who is admittedly not a tree hugger.”
Tickets for the event are $10 at the door, or $5 for students and seniors.
New bio-retention basins have been built next to the classroom trailers — or “relocatables,” in Arlington parlance — at Abingdon and Nottingham elementary schools and at Washington-Lee High School.
A new video produced by Arlington Public Schools (above) explains how the basins work and why they’re necessary.
Updated Sept. 5 at 9:00 a.m.
Drivers of electric cars will soon be able to charge up in Clarendon.
The parking lot of the Walgreens Pharmacy at 2825 Wilson Blvd is the site of Arlington’s newest electric car charging station, and it will be operational in about a month.
The station has multiple charging ports for all types of electric cars, including one that charges some cars in 20 minutes. Those interested in using the chargers can buy a monthly subscription from eVgo, the company that owns the ports and is installing about 50 of them around the Washington area in the next several years.
A two-hour charger can be used for a $5-per-month subscription, while the 20-minute charger subscription starts at $20 per month.
There are already electric car charging stations at the Hilton Crystal City and Rosslyn Gateway buildings (part of a competing charger network), stations in Shirlington and at Pentagon Row, and stations in Vornado properties in Crystal City. The Clarendon station is eVgo’s first in the county.
This week’s Arlington County Fair will include a new recycling initiative.
The Keep America Beautiful recycling campaign and the Alcoa Foundation will place 30 new, well-marked recycling bins throughout the fairgrounds.
Arlington is one of only three fairs in the country to host the campaign, which will also feature a booth at the fair where a team of “recycling ambassadors” will answer visitors’ questions, according to a program spokeswoman.
The Arlington County Fair starts Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, (3501 2nd Street S).
Photo courtesy of Keep America Beautiful
Sixteen vehicles, mostly Toyota Prius hybrids, had their tires slashed in Arlington overnight.
Tires were slashed on 10 vehicles in the Waverly Hills and Cherrydale areas, on we’re told. Most were Toyota Priuses, though at least one was a smart car, which is another gas-sipping vehicle popular with environmentally-conscious drivers.
Another 5 Priuses had their tires slashed in the area of Barcroft Park in south Arlington, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Additionally, tires were slashed on an Arlington County-owned Ford F-150 pickup truck.
Between 1 and 4 tires were slashed on each vehicle, Sternbeck said. The vandalism spree is believed to have happened overnight. So far, there’s no indication that anyone spotted the vandals in the act.
“It wasn’t noted until people starting waking up to go to work,” Sternbeck said. Police are investigating the crime.
Arlington is no stranger to tire-slashing sprees. In 2010, police investigated two separate vandalism sprees that saw the tires slashed on some 50 vehicles. A suspect was later arrested and convicted of the crimes.
The Arlington County Board is expected to vote this weekend to hold public hearings on the county’s proposed Community Energy Plan.
A draft of the ambitious plan calls for Arlington to significantly decrease energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a series of six goals and 14 policies. The goals include:
- “Buildings will be up to 60 percent more energy efficient, saving residents, tenants, and business owners on their energy bills.”
- “District energy systems will provide less expensive, more efficient cooling, heating and power to Arlingtonians in the highest-density development corridors.”
- “Arlington will be a ‘solar leader’ by deploying 160 megawatts of solar photovoltaics, which will supply enough electricity to power 40,000 homes.”
- “Arlington’s transportation infrastructure will be refined and expanded, providing residents and workers with more travel choices.”
- “Arlington County Government will lead by example, reducing energy costs by improving fleet and building efficiencies.”
- “Arlingtonians will rethink their energy use, taking advantage of new technologies to reduce personal energy consumption.”
Among the individual policies are:
- Enforcing higher energy efficiency standards in the building code (requires state legislative approval)
- Facilitating the creation and use of a district energy system with more than 100 megawatts of combined heat and power generation
- Reducing County government CO2 emissions by 76% by 2050 through various strategies
- Reducing automobile pollution by buying more efficient vehicles for the county fleet and requiring more efficient taxis
- Deploying modern traffic control technologies to reduce vehicle idling times
- Providing public recognition of people and organizations that help Arlington reach its energy goals.
The plan, county officials say, would improve Arlington’s business competitiveness, provide energy security, and help the environment.
The County Board is expected to vote this weekend to advertise a series of two public hearings which will be held in advance of Board consideration of the plan itself. The Board’s agenda item calls for the Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on June 3, and for the County Board to hold a hearing on June 15.
The organization released its annual State of the Air report today and Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and the District of Columbia earned an “F” grade for ozone pollution — also known as smog. The D.C. area as a whole ranked as the 9th most-polluted city in the nation for smog, up from 13th last year and 14th in 2011.
The report suggests that the D.C. area has improved in terms of particle pollution in recent years.
“The air in Washington, DC is certainly cleaner than when we started the ‘State of the Air’ report 14 years ago,” said Kimberly Williams, Advocacy and Communications Manager for the American Lung Association, in a press release. “Even though the area experienced increases in unhealthy days of high ozone, the air quality is still better compared to a decade ago. But the work is not done, and we must set stronger health standards for pollutants and cleanup sources of pollution in the D.C. area to protect the health of our citizens.”
The full press release, after the jump.