Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (right) holds court at the Maryland State House in Annapolis on Jan. 8, the first day of the General Assembly session. (Brigette Squire/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (right) holds court at the Maryland State House in Annapolis on Jan. 8, the first day of the General Assembly session. (Brigette Squire/The Washington Informer)

Sustainability is about much more than just “being green.” It involves managing and protecting earth’s natural resources, ecosystems, climate, and atmosphere. By practicing sustainability today, we can preserve precious resources for years and generations to come.

Practicing sustainability starts close to home. We all have a responsibility to protect Prince George’s County’s natural beauty. Keeping our County clean makes it a healthier, safer place to live and raise our children, increases property values, and boosts our local and regional economy. Over the past year, my office, in partnership with Department of the Environment and Department of Public Works & Transportation has made some visible and significant progress toward beautifying our County.

• We launched our Beautification Initiative and anti-littering advertising campaign that encourages County residents and visitors to adopt behaviors that will keep the County clean and green;
• We collected more than 3.2 million pounds of litter and illegal signs;
• We resurfaced over 20 miles of County roadways, filled over 40,000 potholes, and replaced one million square feet of sidewalk;
• We installed 29 Bigbelly dual solar trash and recycling stations at bus stops throughout the County, and these stations have collected 54,978 pounds of trash;
• We strengthened law enforcement on illegal dumping with the installation of cameras to monitor illegal dumping hotspots throughout the County and introduced new penalties; and
• With the assistance of the County Council and fellow Prince Georgians, we passed legislation to ban plastic straws—a move that will go a long way toward eliminating microplastics that end up in our food and harm our waterways and marine animals.

While getting the word out about the County’s Beautification Initiative and our actions to beautify the County is critical to getting the public involved, it isn’t a quick fix. Changing behaviors takes continuous and consistent effort. To help us reach our goal, here are some easy actions you can incorporate into your daily routine that will help make our earth, our County, and our communities more sustainable.

1. Think twice before shopping. Every product we buy has an environmental impact, from the materials used to create it to the pollution emitted during manufacturing to the packaging that ends up in landfills. Before you buy, ask yourself if you really need it. If you do, consider buying gently used instead of new, and look for minimal packaging.

2. Go plastic-free. Plastic never goes away. Every year thousands of marine animals are killed after ingesting plastic or getting tangled up in it. You can cut down on plastic waste by using reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and straws.

3. Use green cleaning products. Many household products contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment. For instance, phosphates in many cleaners, detergents and soaps can cause algal blooms that can kill fish and aquatic plants when washed into waterways. Most retailers sell natural, environmentally safe cleaning products. When shopping, look at the labels and make the switch to natural products.

4. Prevent waste around your home by:
• Purchasing only those items that you need.
• Buying high-quality, long-lasting products.
• Using cloth towels, napkins, and rags instead of disposable paper products and avoiding using disposable cups, plates and cutlery.
• Returning unwanted clothes hangers to the dry cleaners for reuse.
• Donating clothes and household items you no longer use to charity.

These are just a few examples of what you can do to make our earth greener, cleaner, healthier, and more beautiful. Together, we hold the key to a sustainable future—and by working together, we can make sure that future generations will enjoy the resources our earth provides.

Yours in service,
Angela Alsobrooks

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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