CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County found its way on the map in a big way with the recent ban on releasing balloons. Not surprisingly, there are several other groups active in supporting environmental health — one of which is gaining an international following on social media.
Heather Efland of Centreville started the group Sustainable in QAC in August when the Amazon rainforest was having fires.
“Over the past year, I have been on a journey to reduce my waste and educate myself on changes I could make to better the environment,” Efland said. “I found myself beating myself up over every little bit of plastic that comes into my home. I still sort of do. I realized I could make 10 changes to reduce my waste as one person, or I could use my voice and inspire 100 people to make one change to reduce waste and make more sustainable choices. The impact is greater when people join you in the journey.”
Efland said she thinks environmental decisions often are seen as political.
“We live in a ‘red’ town, and I don’t want people to be turned off from a sustainable education simply because of politics,” she said. “The point is to have a place where we can discuss and encourage change in a meaningful way without turning people off.”
As a mother of two toddlers and Queen Anne’s County’s current Teacher of the Year, Efland said she has a full plate and can be on Facebook only at night, so she asked a few friends to join the group as moderators.
The group has attracted followers from Maryland, Illinois, Washington, New York, Ontario and the Netherlands. While many posts focus on reducing the use of plastics and avoiding single-use plastics in general, some products currently available worldwide include mouthwash and toothpaste tablets that reduce plastic consumption and are packaged in recyclable or reusable containers.
The group also offers tips for upcycling — a common trend among environmental supporters. Upcycling is repurposing goods in a way other than originally intended.
For members local to Queen Anne’s County, the group shares information on yard sales and consignment shops — another way to “recycle” goods that are no longer needed.
Efland said this Christmas will be a “secondhand” Christmas for her kids. “It’s a little extra work, but I have been collecting things since June,” she said. “We don’t need new products from Amazon (which doesn’t pay taxes) or China. We have every toy we need right here in America.”