BY HOLLY BREVIG — On Sept. 9, the City of Hyattsville’s Environmental Committee and the Hyattsville Horticultural Society hosted the Green Expo. The expo included free talks sponsored by the Hyattsville Horticultural Society, music, food trucks, several local and regional vendors, various green-themed organizations, and a large display of electric cars. The event was bustling with activity, with residents testing an electric bike brought by Arrow Bicycle, purchasing beer from Calvert Brewing Company, and learning about rebates for “greening” their homes.
Brie Welzer, chair of the Environmental Committee, said the event was meant “to highlight ongoing environmental initiatives in Hyattsville and to encourage residents to take steps to improve their private properties.”
“Last year the event focused on sustainable landscaping and groundwater management,” Welzer said. “This year the event was more general advice and included information on how residents can reduce their own environmental impact through city, county, or state rebate programs.”
“The Green Expo is a place to celebrate the ongoing projects that are greening our city, and to highlight our local business and community leaders that provide products that are inherently green [like] bikes, upcycled clothes and furniture, clothing swaps,” Welzer said.
One of those products is the electric vehicle. This year’s Green Expo showcased 29 electric cars, including the VW e-Golf, Chevy Volt, Tesla, Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, and the Police Department’s new Chevy Bolt vehicle and electric motorcycle, the Empulse. Hyattsville residents walked up and down the rows of electric vehicles in the Hyattsville Municipal Building’s parking lot, taking pictures, getting inside the cars, and talking to the owners about owning an electric car.
Joe Brewer, inspector for the City of Hyattsville, said that the goal of the showcase was to create a “no pressure, educational environment where residents could ask questions and learn about the electric car.” Brewer said he hopes the showcase opened people’s eyes about the benefits of owning an electric car and that owning one is a possibility. He explained that owners of electric cars might spend more time planning a trip (e.g., how far am I driving, how many miles can I drive per charge, where are the charging sites, etc.) than the typical car owner, but added, “It’s kinda fun to figure out where you can charge your car.”
There are plenty of places to charge your electric car in the area — the Whole Foods in Riverdale, the Greenbelt Municipal Building, and College Park have public charging stations. “The District of Columbia (DC) also has several public charging stations,” Brewer added.
And Hyattsville might soon be on that list. The city plans to install more public charging stations (Level 2 chargers) throughout the city, according to Brewer. But, he explained, electric car owners can also use an outlet (Level 1 chargers) to charge their cars. In fact, Brewer was charging his electric car using an outlet at the parking lot of the municipal building during the event.
Brewer explained that because an electric car does not have a transmission the maintenance costs are minimal. “Plus, the car speeds up quickly since there isn’t a transmission and is stealthy quiet.”
The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE) also attended the expo and provided information on Community Outreach Promoting and Empowerment (COPE), which includes several interactive community programs. These programs, such as the Tree ReLeaf Grant Program and the Rain Check Rebate Program provide information on how residents can improve the environment and their homes — by planting native trees or installing green roofs, for instance — and receive city, county, or state rebates.
The DoE was also there to talk about poop — and give out poop emoji stress balls, much to the excitement of attending children. They provided information on the environmental and public health harm of pet waste that is not picked up. Deborah Weller, Program Manager for the Tree Releaf program, said “that roughly 40 percent of pet owners don’t pick up pet waste, which gets into our soil and waterways.” According to a pamphlet, one dog can produce 248 pounds of waste per year and each gram of waste contains 23 million bacteria. If the bacteria are harmful and seep into the soil and waterways, it could spread disease to humans and animals.
Weller said the DoE provided grants to People for Change Coalition and The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at University of Maryland through the Stormwater Stewardship Grants to help DoE launch a pet waste campaign that includes education and outreach for the citizens, pet waste station installations, and maintenance and monitoring.
Exhibitors at the expo included Arrow Bicycle, Big Bad Woof, Calvert Brewing, Capitol Area Native Plants Group, Community Forklift, Hyattsville Elementary School Parent Teacher Association, HY Swap, Love Yoga, Monarch Waystation, Prince George’s (PG) Department of Environment, Robert Harper Books, Tanglewood Works, University of Maryland Extension Master Gardeners, YB Green and Yuck Old Paint.