Simple Tips to Incorporate Green Living Inside and Outside

Laurie Taylor-Mitchell is president of the Student Support Network, a nonprofit organization assisting students in need in Baltimore County Public Schools. She also coordinates the Weed Warriors Program at Cromwell Valley Park and in her limited spare time loves to garden with native plants and dream about changing how we live—one plastic bag less at a time.

Here are some tips from Laurie for incorporating green living into your everyday:

In the House
1. Reduce your use of plastic bags and wraps. Reuse bread bags and other small plastic bags when possible. Invest in containers with lids, or utilize reusable wraps that are washable. Recycle used plastic bags (think about all those plastic shopping bags) by placing them in bins available at retailers.  

2. Just say “no” to bags (including paper). Bring your own reusable bags, or carry your purchases without a bag. Keep your reusable shopping bags in your car for easy access.

3. Support local organic farms. Buy organic when possible to reduce the impact of pesticide use and destruction of pollinator populations. Some of her favorite local organic farms are Prigel Family Creamery in Glen Arm, Dairy Farms, One Straw Far and Clayton Farms. Also, a great hyper-local option is the CSA membership for organic produce at Talmar near Cromwell Valley Park.

In the Garden
4. Limit pesticides. Ask your lawn care provider for options to reduce or eliminate pesticide use. Use insecticidal soap on plants (including vegetable gardens) to control pests. 

5. Go native! Plant trees and other plants native to Maryland. A great resource for native gardening is Herring Run Nursery on the grounds of Mount Pleasant Golf Course. Not only do they have a wide selection of native plants (including trees, shrubs and perennials), they also have master gardeners ready to help you plan your native garden/yard and answer your questions.

6. Manage deer naturally. Plant native species that are naturally resistant to deer grazing. An added benefit is that these native species attract beneficial pollinators. The professionals at Herring Run Nursery are a great resource.

7. Plant a tree. Oak trees are the kings, supporting more than 500 species of birds, insects and other animals. Be sure to stake and protect your new tree and water regularly for the first three years. (Try a Gator watering bag; filling the bag once a week makes it easy.)

8. Avoid non-native invasive species. These plants displace our native plants and have escaped gardens and spread aggressively into our woodlands and field habitats. Avoid Japanese barberry, non-native pachysandra, ajuga, vinca (periwinkle), nandina, burning bush, Japanese honeysuckle, privets and snowdrops (especially if you live near woods or a stream).