Laurel Peltier

Laurel Peltier writes the environment GreenLaurel column every Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.

A local’s guide to composting your next event’s food waste and trash

Food trash to garden treasure. Photo credit: Veteran Compost

Every September at my church, The Church of the Redeemer, we host an annual parish picnic out on the front lawn. About 400 parishioners get to enjoy a delicious barbecue lunch, cooked and served by Boy Scout Troop 35.

But the fun inevitably means waste–and lots of it. We’ve traditionally used plastic plates, cups and cutlery, simply because it’s tough to haul out 400 people’s ceramic plates and glasses to the lawn and back.

Greenlaurel: Baltimore reservoirs’ Public Enemy No. 1—the Zebra mussel

Loch Raven Reservoir Dam. Photo by Laurel Peltier.

A pesky alien shellfish that wreaks havoc on waterways is getting closer and closer to Baltimore’s drinking water reservoirs. Zebra mussels, stowaways from Russia, were found last spring in Hyde’s Quarry in Westminster, Maryland.

“Baltimore’s Department of Public Works has been ever-vigilant about keeping these invaders out, but this was way too close for comfort,” said Clark Howells, Watershed Section manager for Baltimore DPW.

GreenLaurel: Will rain levels ever go back to normal?

When being no. 1 is not optimal. Credit: N.O.A.A.

This edition of GreenLaurel is sponsored by the upcoming Chesapeake Film Festival. On Saturday, October 13, the waterfront Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) will host a day of environmental films as part of the film festival. Click here for the full schedule of films.

To answer that question in the headline–no. This is a taste of the new normal. Scientists answered the rain question decades ago. Now we’re living with climate change, and it’s catching a lot of us off guard. Your next step might be awareness, then action and adaptation. We have a few ideas for all three.

A guide to switching your home’s energy supply to wind power (no turbines needed)

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Are Maryland’s energy suppliers mailing and calling you advertising prices supposedly lower than BGE’s? Have you wondered if it’s worth it to switch, or if these firms are even legit?

These are good questions. Maryland’s deregulated energy market is tricky. However, there is a hassle-free way to choose renewable energy for your home, save cash and skip the hassle of third-party suppliers altogether. 

Greenlaurel: Moveable Orchards, a brilliant solution to help Baltimore’s food deserts

Photo by Bengt Nyman, via Wikimedia Commons

While many of Baltimore’s urban spaces don’t have the proper soil conditions to support a newly planted orchard, the folks at the nonprofit Civic Works have come up with a solution: Make the orchards portable, and bring them to the communities that need them.

Greenlaurel: Bring birds and butterflies to your backyard with native plants

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Crossing your fingers that lots of butterflies, birds, and bees will visit your outdoor space this summer? Integrating native plants into your backyard is the secret to building habitats for these pollinators. Plus, natives are affordable and just as beautiful as the usual garden plant suspects.

Greenlaurel: ’Unprecedented recovery’ in Chesapeake Bay’s sea grasses directly tied to clean-up efforts

Sea grasses in the Chesapeake Bay. Photo credit: Jon LefCheck, via UMCES.

A first-of-its-kind study has revealed that the decades-long “Save the Bay” effort is working. Underwater sea grasses, vital to the bay’s ecosystem, are at their highest levels in nearly 50 years. Not only is this good news for the Chesapeake Bay, but the research provides hope for other impaired estuaries, proving that a coordinated government collaboration focused on reducing pollution can lead to real restoration.

Greenlaurel: Camp Small, once a costly pile, is now a buzzing, zero-waste wood-salvaging initiative

These 20-foot-high piles of wood are just a fraction of Camp Small’s inventory. Photo by Laurel Peltier.

Have you ever noticed that massive wood pile when you drive southbound on I-83, between the Northern Parkway and Cold Spring Lane exits? That “wood dump,” if you will, is actually Baltimore’s Camp Small Zero Waste Initiative, a vital supply of home-grown timber, mulch and firewood logs for the city. And what’s more, those money-making logs are sitting atop some interesting Civil War history.

Greenlaurel: Baltimore-Based Scientists Answer Common Climate Change Questions

Screenshot from @realDonaldTrump’s Twitter account

Climate change was a confusing topic long before President Trump began weighing in online, so we used our phone-a-friend lifeline to ask Baltimore’s scientists to get some answers to common questions about global warming.

Greenlaurel: Tackling Trump’s Environmental Mess, Maryland Legislators Propose Important Eco-Bills in 2018


In one short year, Trump has reversed more than 60 federal environmental regulations. The gutting of federal green regulations makes state-level environmental legislation proposed in this year’s Maryland General Assembly session that much more critical.