Making Bethesda Green

Cutting the vine

When most organizations celebrate an opening, they cut a ribbon. The folks at nonprofit Bethesda Green, which launched its new Education Center and Green Business Incubator yesterday morning, had a different idea. Shiny ribbons made from petroleum aren’t good for the planet, so they strung an invasive vine across the building’s entrance and chopped it up with giant shears.

In doing so, they opened Maryland’s first green business incubator, which will provide offices and support to entrepreneurs and create green jobs for the community. So far eight start-ups are involved, focusing on everything from rain barrels to sustainable food to charging stations for electric cars.

In addition, the new center will be a hub for people like you and me who may like to volunteer for planet-friendly projects. It’s off to a great start. Since forming just last year, this group has led a variety of projects, including adding 15 recycling bins to downtown Bethesda, hosting a local farms tour, researching ways to turn local restaurants’ used cooking oil into biodiesel fuel, collecting 180,000 pounds of used electronics, recycling toner cartridges for businesses and even reusing crayons for kids.

The celebration continues through Saturday, with an open house from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. focusing on sustainability in the community.

Be Green

Special talks take place throughout the day:

  • 11 a.m., Recycling Do’s and Don’ts in Montgomery County
    Noon, What’s happening at Bethesda Green, and how to get involved in new programs
  • 1 p.m., Working groups and new projects making Bethesda more sustainable
  • 2 p.m., GreenerLiving Bethesda, a program for which you can become a charter member and learn how to track and lower your own energy use.

You also can learn about upcoming events, including seminars on energy efficiency, healthy harvests and having an eco-friendly holiday season.

The center is also a place you can go to find out how to be greener in a number of areas — recycling, food and transportation are some — or to check out sample solar panels and green roof materials, find bicycle maps and see “I used to be a tire” pouches and other green consumer items.

And of course you can see the brand-spanking-new center. The 3,000 square foot space, a floor donated by Chevy Chase Bank in its building at the corner of Woodmont Ave. and Cordell, was completely renovated within the past month.

All about sustainable building materials

A showcase for green building materials, it includes carpet made from recycled nylon, paint without neurotoxins or carcinogens, flooring made from cork bark and shelves from reclaimed wood that don’t require killing trees, LED lights that use 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, recycled plastic baseboards, recycled paper signs, Energy Star kitchen appliances, and a bottle-less water cooler.

It’s a good home for an organization with a goal to promote a local model for sustainable living, and to make Bethesda a better place to live and work. Check it out!

An area resident since 1997, Donna C. is a DC outsider. When she’s not running her writing and Web business, she’s running around the city, exploring the great outdoors, or trying to figure out how best to go green. See why she loves DC.

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