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Pilot program aims to keep tennis balls out of the landfill [Ellicott City]

This month Howard County government, in conjunction with RecycleBalls, launched a tennis ball recycling pilot program at Centennial Park. It is part of a county wide sustainability plan to keep materials that can be reused out of the landfill. The new program will recycle the collected balls into a crumb rubber product that can be used for a variety of green solutions.

Starting this month, two bins will be placed at Centennial Park's West and North tennis courts. When each bin reaches capacity at 200 balls, county staff will collect and ship them using pre-paid postage to RecycleBalls.

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"We hope (tennis players) will start dropping their old and used tennis balls into these bins. If successful, we hope to expand the program to other parks," said John R. Byrd, director, Department of Recreation and Parks.

RecycleBalls is a youth-driven nonprofit organization with a mission to recycle every tennis ball in the United States. According to the organization, more than 125 million tennis balls end up in America's landfills each year. For more information about RecycleBalls, go to recycleballs.org.

Celebrate Earth Day at the 11th annual GreenFest on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Howard Community College's Burrill Galleria, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy, in Columbia. This free, famil-friendly event is sponsored by the Howard County Government.

Approximately 75 vendors, coupled with exhibits, demonstrations, workshops and outdoor activities, will provide attendees with local resources and information to help "green" their home, workplace and lifestyle. Topics include attracting backyard butterflies, in-home energy saving strategies, keeping chickens in your backyard, composting, rain barrels and local wildlife.

A donation hub will allow attendees to give away used items and donate food to HCC's food pantry, which assists students in need. TheGreenDrop area will accept food and items for reuse, such as electronics, toys, shoes, clothes, kitchenware and games. In addition, there will be a special collections for eyeglasses, cell phones, binoculars and worn out denim jeans.

Bring your broken household items to the Repair Café hosted by Transition Howard County. Volunteer repair specialists will evaluate items such as toasters, lamps, clothes, bicycles, toys or electronics and fix as many as possible for free.

A free shredding event will take place from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. (or until the trucks are full) in Parking Lot B. Residents can bring up to three bags or boxes of paper documents per person.

At 12:30 p.m., in Duncan Hall, local entrepreneur Evan Lutz, CEO and co-founder of Hungry Harvest, will discuss the growing problem of food waste and how communities can address the issue.

For more information, including the event schedule, go to HCGreenFest.org .

Another place to observe Earth Day is in Old Ellicott City at the SpringFest celebration on Saturday, April 21, from 12 to 8:30 p.m. This event features three outdoor stages with music from over 20 bands.

In addition to the free musical performances, the event boasts local food and beverages for sale including JailBreak Brewing and Manor Hill Brewing craft beer, sidewalk sales, kid-friendly crafts and free museum entries. Free parking and shuttle service from county parking lots.

Proceeds from the event benefit The Ellicott City Partnership, a nonprofit organization that supports the historic downtown business community. For more details, including the performance schedule, go to visitoldellicottcity.com

On Saturday, April 14, from 8 to 11 a.m., the Kiwanis Club of Ellicott City invites the community to its spring all-you-can-eat country breakfast and flea market.

Held at Bethany United Methodist Church, the fundraiser is a family-friendly tradition featuring handmade sausage from Boarman's Old Fashioned Meat Market in Highland.

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In keeping with its 78 years of community service, the breakfast proceeds will support local Howard County activities, with an emphasis on youth programs. The club recently chartered its sixth local high school Key Club at Mount Hebron High School. In addition, the club sponsors a Circle K Club at UMBC and an elementary school K-Kids Club at Chesapeake Math and IT Academy, in Laurel. The flea market proceeds will benefit Deaf Camps Inc.

Breakfast tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the door. Children under 8 are free. BUMC is at 2875 Bethany Lane in Ellicott City.

For additional event information, contact Gus at 410-465-1891 or katsamg@yahoo.com. To learn more about the Ellicott City Kiwanis Club go to ellicottcitykiwanis.org or Facebook at facebook.com/ellicottcitykiwanis.

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