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Green Team tips

"One generation goes and another generation comes, but the Earth remains forever."  Kohelet 1:4



Tips for Growing Parsley for Pesach

Tips for Composting

Tips for Disposing of Medical Waste

Tips for Reducing Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

Environmentally-friendly Online Shopping Tips

Green Shopping Tips

Tips for Switching to Renewable Energy

For more information, or to join this committee, please contact the Green Team at









GROWING PARSLEY FROM SEED - Parsley is a versatile biennial and that is simple to grow. If you start seeds indoors on a sunny, preferably south-facing windowsill, around Tu B’Shvat and you’ll have parsley for Pesach.

You’ll need

  • Parsley seeds for a variety of your choice*
  • Water
  • A pot and saucer, tray or container
  • Potting soil
  • Compost for nutrients
  • Glass jar or bowl
  • Dish soap
  • Strainer or sifter
  • Wax paper
  • Gardening tool



  • Preparing your seeds:
    • Soak the seeds in a mixture of dish soap and warm, not hot, water (105ᵒ F) for 1 hour.**
    • Gently rinse the seeds under warm water, using a strainer or sifter, to remove the soap
    • Soak in fresh warm water (105ᵒ F) and let stand overnight
    • After soaking overnight, remove the seeds with a strainer and lay them out on a piece of wax paper to dry overnight. When they have been fully dried, they are ready to plant.
  • Planting your seeds:
    • Mix the potting soil and compost in a bowl. The ideal mixture is 50% potting soil and 50% compost. (The ideal pH level is in the 6 to 7 range.)
    • Place the soil mixture in a pot, tray or container of your choice, leaving room at the top.
    • Place three (3) seeds in the middle of each pot (or tray hole), or sow throughout the container,
    • Cover gently with ¼ inch of additional soil and water
  • Caring for your seedlings: Seeds take 21 to 28 days to germinate.
    • Place your pot, tray or container in a place that receives 6-8 hours sunlight
    • Keep soil moist to the touch (not soggy)
    • Empty excess water from the saucer so the roots don’t sit in water
    • Once your seeds germinate, feed the plants every two weeks with organic fertilizer
    • You can transplant seedlings started indoors into your garden after the last frost, when the plants are at least 3-inches tall. Be sure to water every 4 – 7 days.

You can find more information about growing parsley here.

HOW TO GROW A MIXED HERB CONTAINER WITH YOUR PARSLEY - You can make great hanging baskets and decorative porch containers by planting your parsley in a mixed herb container.

Herbs that combine well in a mixed container with parsley include: chives, thyme, basil, oregano and mint. When planting mixed herb container, stick the thyme and oregano around the edges of a container or hanging basket where it can tumble over the edges.

For more information on herb container gardening go to:



To reduce single-use-plastic waste:

  • Start plants from seed or buy plants that are sold in biodegradable containers that can be planted in the ground.
  • Use clay, not plastic, pots and saucers. They also hold water better.
  • Instead of using plastic seedling trays, it’s incredibly easy to make these biodegradable cardboard seedling pots from toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. These cardboard pots also protect your tender seedlings from shock when they are replanted in the garden.
  • Here are a few other alternatives to plastic seedling trays.
  • If you do end up with plastic pots, trays and containers, rinse and reuse them. Here are some great plastic tray reuse ideas.
  • Invest in a compost tumbler and start enriching your soil the natural way, or drop off your food scraps, compostable cutlery, and non-plastic paper plates and napkins at the Gaithersburg Compost Spot, 800 Rabbit Road
  • Recycle your garden clippings in paper bags. (Plastic trash bags contaminate mulch piles!)

Use organic fertilizers and don’t overdo (see Examples of Organic Fertilizers and Further Discussion About Fertilizers)

Protect our soils, water and your health by using pesticide and herbicide alternatives:

Install a rain barrel to water your plants and get a Rain Barrel Rebate from the City of Gaithersburg.

Use native plants and remove invasive species. Find out more here.

* Parsley comes in two varieties: curly leaf and flat leaf (also known as Italian parsley). Flat leaf parsley tends to have a slightly stronger flavor than curly-leaf parsley, but both types are relatively mild.


** The heat of the water and the dish soap will help to break down the notoriously tough outer casing of the parsley seeds. This will help them germinate and grow faster than they would without soaking.






Spring is almost here! So, this month is a perfect time to begin thinking about composting.

Composting is the process of using a mixture of decaying organic material to create fertilizer and soil (known as compost) for growing new plants. For a minimal amount of effort and cost everyone can compost and significantly reduce the amount of trash you send to the landfill.

According to the EPA there are 5 main types of composting: onsite composting, vermicomposting, aerated (turned) windrow composting, aerated static pile composting, in-vessel composting.

HOME COMPOSTING. Two of these methods of composting can be easily done at home:

· Onsite Composting – For small amounts of food this works well and takes very little time and equipment. Compost can take up to 2 years without turning or 3-6 months with consistent turning. Low tech bins are available for free at Montgomery County DEP. In addition, many tumblers are now on the market, making it very practical to turn your kitchen waste into soil enriching additives. If you are interested in home composting check out the Montgomery County DEP Composting Workshops. The next workshop is scheduled for February 20, 2019 and you can register here.


· Vermicomposting – This is the process of using red worms to feed on organic scraps to create compost. The worms break down the material in compost castings. It typically takes about 3-4 months to get castings. Those interested in learning more about Vermicomposting can attend the University of Maryland’s Grow it and Eat it Workshop on April 27, 2019.

LARGE QUANTITY & COMMUNITY COMPOSTING: The other three methods of composting are for municipalities, restaurants and other institutions that produce large quantities of waste. But, there’s a lot happening in our area for individual residents and communities. They include the following:

1. Yard and garden trimmings: Gaithersburg collects yard and garden trimmings curbside every recycling day. Residents living in other areas of Montgomery County see your city’s web pages and


2. Food Waste: Large quantity food waste composting is just getting started in our area. But we already have some options.

· The City of Gaithersburg has a new free Compost Drop-Off Spot at 800 Rabbitt Road available to Gaithersburg residents 24/7. This service is provided by Key City Compost which has provided the following guidance:

· Another alternative for the home is The Compost Crew. Their rate is $36/month. They will bring you bins and bags and pick up your waste just like trash pickup. They take most of the waste to One Acre Farm which creates compost and has CSAs. They also provide a 25-pound bag of compost to their customers twice each year and have more compost for sale. Compost Crew currently services Chevy Chase Village.


· Key City Compost also contracts with communities and organizations for curb-side pick-up. The current fee is $27.00 per week per household, or an average of $108.00 per month


· If you live in PG County you can participate in the that County’s curb-side composting pilot project.


January, 2019 - Tips for Disposing of Medical Waste

Several Shaare Torah members have asked the Green team how to dispose of medical waste. This is what we have found out:

· There are three types of Medical Waste: (1) unused medicines (expired or unwanted), (2) medical sharps, and (3) medical equipment and devices.

· You can dispose safely of unused medicines as follows:

o Donating: Some unexpired medicines can be donated at: N Street Village (over-the-counter medicines, eye care, smoking cessation) and Bread for the City (including blood pressure medications, many OTC and Rx medications for chronic conditions)

o Disposing: Do not flush medicine down the drain or in the trash. It endangers our water supplies and harms our wildlife. You can safely dispose of these wastes as follows:

§ City of Gaithersburg Police Department, 14 Fulks Corner Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD (Gaithersburg residents only, between 8 am and 9 pm. Drop box, located in the Police Station lobby. Unused solid medicines. No liquids or syringes.)

§ City of Takoma Park Police Department, 7500 Maple Avenue, 1st Floor Lobby, Takoma Park, Maryland 20912 (24/7).

§ Chevy Chase Village, 5906 Connecticut Avenue Chevy Chase, MD 20815.

§ Some pharmacies with drug take-back programs (call first): Village Green Apothecary, at 5415 W. Cedar Ln, Bethesda, MD 20814 (301-530-0800); some CVS locations, including 9920 Key West Ave., Rockville, MD 20850, 19100 Montgomery Village Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20886, and 7955 Tuckerman Ln., Rockville, MD 20854.

o Additional helpful information on medicine disposal: Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know; DEA’s next National Take Back Day is April 27, 2019.

· You can dispose safely of Medical Sharps (including syringes and lancets) as follows:

o Donating: Unused insulin syringes can be donated at Bread for the City.

o Disposing: Never place medical sharps in the trash or recycling bin. Instead place them immediately after use in secure sealed packaging such as a biohazard sharps container and drop them off at the Holy Cross Hospital Syringe Disposal Program, 1500 Forest Glen Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Call for instructions: 301-754-7121 (for all Montgomery County residents). Some doctors, CVS pharmacies and other medical device providers (e.g., and also have return programs.

o Additional helpful information: Best Way to Get Rid of Used Needles and Other Sharps

· You can dispose safely of Medical Equipment as follows: Medical equipment runs the gamut from durable items such as eyeglasses, wheelchairs and walkers, to one-time-use waste.

o Donating:

§ Bread for the City accepts unopened medical supplies.

§ The Montgomery County Commission on People with Disabilities has compiled a list of medical equipment loan closets.

§ DC Shares accepts manual wheelchairs, walkers, and other items (from DC residents only).

o Disposing: Treat equipment that cannot be donated as Household Hazardous Waste. Wrap in a plastic bag, and dispose of it according to the instructions provided here: Montgomery County HHW Disposal Instructions.

o Additional helpful information about donating medical equipment: Montgomery County Volunteer Center.



DECEMBER - Tips for Reducing Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

Save petroleum, water, and money.  Replace plastic, one-time use water bottles with reusable water bottles.

The production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil a year

  • “The Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research organization, estimates that the energy used in the production and use of plastic bottles is equivalent to filling the bottles one-quarter full with oil.”
  • Petroleum is used to manufacture the plastic bottle, transport it to the stores, and transport it (hopefully) to a recycling facility.


It takes a lot more than one liter of water to fill a one liter plastic water bottle.


  • It takes 22 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic, and it takes 1.39 liters of water to fill a one-liter plastic bottle?  By the time a single, one-liter, plastic bottle is produced and filled, three liters of water have been used.


Although plastic bottles can be recycled, many do not make it to recycling facilities.

It’s expensive.


NOVEMBER - Environmentally Friendly Online Shopping Tips

Shopping online is convenient, but can it be environmentally friendly? The answer is "yes" if you follow a few guidelines.

  • As with all purchasing, try to reduce your consumption. You may want to try out every color of a product, but Amazon's optimization is not the same as yours. You may end up getting multiple deliveries, in multiple boxes of essentially the same item.
  • Don't opt for the fastest shipping because it's free. Amazon has a "free no-rush shipping" option which enables them to consolidate your order. As a reward for waiting, you'll get a credit or discount towards items like eBooks and movies.
  • Don't check out immediately. If you don't need something ASAP, consolidate your deliveries by allowing yourself time to add things to your cart as you need them.
  • If there is a field for special instructions, request that the sender not use packing peanuts. If you do find yourself with these annoying packing materials, check out these tips on reuse and recycling.
  • More common packing materials are air-filled plastic bags. Collapse them and recycle them with your other plastic bags and films. There are several local drop-off sites.
  • Save a couple boxes with packing materials for sending goodies to your kids at camp or college!

SEPTEMBER - Green Shopping Tips

Green Shopping = Environmentally Conscious Shopping 

As we enter this High Holiday period, a time for reflection, we will be walking into grocery stores to purchase food.  After all, what is a Jewish holiday without food? 

There are three great ways to help protect the environment:  Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  This year, try starting your shopping trip with an extra "R" in mind, Refuse! These five steps will help you to Refuse and Reduce the amount of plastic you bring home and lower your environmental footprint.

  • Use reusable grocery bags
  • Use reusable produce bags made from mesh or cloth
  • Look at product packaging - if you have a choice between two similar items, pick the one with little or no plastic
  • Buy in bulk or purchase larger size packaging, then use reusable containers at home
  • Buy locally produced items - they reduce impacts on the environment associated with transportation

AUGUST - Tips for Switching to Renewable Electricity

Shrink your carbon footprint the easy way-like Congregation Shaare Torah does-by buying electricity produced with 100% renewable power.

  • If you have not already checked out your options for renewably-produced electricity, now is a GREAT time to do so: 100% wind power has never been more affordable, and new community solar options are offering prices cheaper than standard electricity rates, with NO need to put panels on your roof! To learn more about how you can care for the Earth by using 100% renewable power-without crippling your budget-call or email Linda Gore, (301 990 7168) or

Why does it matter which electricity supplier you use?

  • With global climate change a hard-to-ignore part of our lives now, everyone’s carbon footprint matters! If Pepco is your electricity supplier, then 59% of your electricity in 2017 was made by burning fossil fuels. By choosing to purchase your electricity from a 100% renewable energy supplier, your household’s carbon footprint plummets! Until recently, wind power—the most commonly purchased renewable—cost significantly more than Pepco’s “standard offer of service” rate (currently 7.42 center per kilowatt hour). Thanks to massive new wind farm projects all over the United States, the price of 100% wind power is now only a fraction of a penny more. Also, our region is lucky to have new “community solar” power coming soon, as well.

How to buy 100% renewable electricity for your home.

  • Shop for electricity generated by wind power by checking the Maryland Public Service Commission’s “shop and compare” web site (; call the companies you are most interested in and compare their offers. The electricity supplier you choose will guide you through the simple steps to switch from “regular” electricity to carbon free electricity. To learn about the exciting new opportunity of community solar electricity, search “Montgomery county community solar.” If you want to learn exactly how renewably-produced electricity gets to your home, watch this nifty video:

How has Shaare Torah’s use of 100% wind-generated electricity helped combat global warming?

  • Over the past three years, the amount of carbon dioxide that Shaare Torah kept out of the atmosphere is approximately equivalent to keeping about 110 cars completely off the road! You can do it, too! Wind power and community solar are inexpensive and simple fixes that immediately shrink your carbon footprint. For more information, email

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Sat, August 15 2020 25 Av 5780