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Caring For Charlestown's Campus

By Danielle Rexrode
May 20, 2024
Charlestown Recycles

Conservation and sustainability are always priorities at Charlestown, an Erickson Senior Living community in Catonsville, Md., where residents and staff members work hand-in-hand to instill environmental stewardship. 

Resident Mark Buehlman, chair of the community's Resident Advisory Council Conservation Committee, is a proud catalyst of this mission. 

"The committee has hosted a number of classes to educate residents on different environmental issues such as sustainability, climate change, erosion, and runoff," Mark says. "Education is instrumental in making changes, and changes we have made! Charlestown is greener than ever before."

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Mark, a former environmental engineer, taught environmental science and environmental law for 11 years as an adjunct professor at the Community College of Baltimore County.   

"From the time I was a kid, I've loved the outdoors," recalls Mark. "Conservation and environmental work have always been my passion."

Marty Tewksbury also brought his love for Mother Nature with him when he moved to Charlestown. 

"I moved to Charlestown from Vermont ten years ago," says Marty. "Recycling is a way of life there. So, naturally, after we settled into our apartment home, I was interested in joining Charlestown's recycling program."

Now, as leader of the recycling program, Marty works with the conservation committee and passionate residents like Mary Marshall to maintain a recycling guideline sheet. He also ensures that the most up-to-date recycling information is displayed at on-campus restaurants

"We are fortunate to have volunteers like Marty, who understand the intricacies and importance of recycling. They work hard to communicate that knowledge to other residents," says Mark.

Impressive feats

From Marty's efforts grew other initiatives, such as the collection of plastic shopping bags, batteries, unused medicine, eyeglasses, and printer ink cartridges.

"We have volunteers who just collect aluminum cans," says Marty. "They take them to the recycling center, where they receive money for each pound of aluminum donated. Every penny goes toward Charlestown's Benevolent Care Fund, which assists residents who, through no fault of their own, outlive their resources. It's a win-win!"

Michele Fenn, manager of housekeeping at Charlestown, notes that these green initiatives have made quite the impact, as more recycling bags are collected than trash bags. 

"The volume of recyclables we collect is larger than our regular trash. That's impressive!" says Fenn. "Each resident has their recycling picked up once a week. To make it easier and encourage participation, we utilize single stream recycling--meaning all recyclables can be bagged or bundled together and no separating is necessary."

Each year, Charlestown recycles more than 280 tons of items from residents, staff members' offices, and the Dining Services department.

"Residents like Mark and Marty do a great job at keeping everyone informed," she adds. "Our in-house TV station plays a role, too. Videos showing what happens to cans, newspapers, and boxes once they leave the community really resonate with people."

Caring for the campus

In addition to recycling, two resident-run clubs work with the conservation committee to preserve and protect Charlestown's lush, 110-acre campus. 

"Our nature trail club tends to the nature trail, a butterfly garden, and a native plants garden. Throughout the year, the invasive plants group goes out on Saturday mornings to remove invasive plants from the nature trail," says Mark. 

He continues, "We even developed a formal nature trail engineering study! We presented our findings to administration, gave them a 'Current State of The Trail,' and made recommendations on how they can eliminate some erosion issues." 

Recently, Charlestown's administration started working with sustainability teams that are focused on the environmental impact that the Grounds, Dining Services, and Transportation departments can have. 

"We are fortunate that our administration is responsive and listens closely to residents' concerns," he says.

Eco-friendly solutions

Several eco-friendly solutions have been incorporated or added to Charlestown over the years. A large 'green roof' was installed over the aquatics center. The roof features shallow soil and low vegetation, designed to insulate the building and reduce stormwater runoff. 

To reduce emissions, residents can take free shuttles to and from grocery stores like Giant and Weis, local malls, libraries, and the post office. A Leviton II electric car charging station is also available to residents and team members. 

The resident-run Treasure Sale, where well-loved items are resold, keeps items out of the waste and recycling stream. All proceeds are donated to various clubs and organizations in the community. 

"It's wonderful to see everyone come together and put their energy into something worthwhile, like caring for the environment," says Marty. "Charlestown is making a difference!"

To learn more about affordable, independent senior living at Charlestown, request your free brochure to get the scoop on amenities, floor plans, and so much more.