With the holiday season quickly approaching, the O’Malley-Brown administration has teamed up to bring you a bounty of locally grown, sustainable, and eco-friendly gift ideas while also keeping budgets in mind. Maryland is rich in Smart, Green and Growing resources for you and your loved ones this season.
For the Foodie: Support Maryland agriculture through the purchase of farm-fresh products for unique gifts, and locally produced food and drinks for every holiday feast. Visit http://www.marylandsbest.net/ to find out about the seasonal bounty offered by Maryland's farms, including lists of farmers' markets, Maryland wineries, local seafood retailers, turkey growers, and choose-and-cut or retail operations selling Maryland-grown Christmas trees. The Maryland Christmas Tree Association has also published a directory of Choose & Cut Farms (http://www.marylandchristmastrees.org/), which lists dozens of locations across Maryland where families can harvest their own Christmas trees. Keep in mind that buying local products directly from farmers can reduce the carbon footprint of your gift, keeps money circulating in YOUR community, and even helps farm profitability therefore helping to keep open land in farming, not in development.
For the DIY-er: Simple home improvements are a welcomed green gift as temperatures drop and daylight hours are shortened. ENERGY STAR certified Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) can save 75 percent of the electricity used by incandescent light bulbs and last up to ten times longer. A winter weatherization kit found at local home improvement stores can also help prevent energy loss around leaky windows and doors. Also look for low-flow showerheads, which save water and energy while also offering spa settings for a little bit of luxury. For more energy saving DIY ideas, visit http://www.energy.state.md.us.
For the Nature Enthusiast: Have trees planted in honor or memory of family and friends to celebrate the holidays. TREE-MENDOUS MARYLAND is a program that will arrange for trees to be planted in the area in which your green gift recipient lives. Your Gift of Trees is actually three gifts—one to someone you care for, one to future generations, and one to the environment. A beautiful certificate, suitable for framing, is sent to the recipient announcing your gift. All trees will be planted on public land, in parks and forests, on school grounds, along streams, creeks, and rivers to support Stream ReLeaf, and along county and state rights-of-ways where they will beautify the surroundings and contribute to our quality of life. Go to http://www.trees.maryland.gov for more information.
For the Techie: Programmable thermostats and energy-saving power strips are two great gadgets that make saving energy a simple process. Remember to look for ENERGY STAR appliances and office equipment; and to maximize holiday lighting savings, use timers to limit light displays to no more than six evening hours a day. Leaving lights on 24 hours a day will quadruple your energy costs and create four times the pollution.
For the Kids (Or the Kids in All of Us): Give the "no batteries required" gifts of roller blades, bicycles, or a skate board, all of which encourage healthy exercise and time outdoors. Check out Maryland's Guide to Outdoor Activites found at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/outdooradventures and give the gift of quality time and an adventure that's sure to create memories well into the New Year.
Smart, Green & Growing is a new initiative designed to help us create a more sustainable future for our State. Our goal is to involve every Marylander in reducing our carbon footprint, preserving our most valuable resource lands, and restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s state agencies, local governments, businesses and citizens have already begun working together toward our vision for a smarter, greener, more sustainable State. Together we are creating more livable communities, improving transportation options, supporting resource-based industries and investing in green technologies. For more information, please go to www.green.maryland.gov