Neil Adleberg wants to help Baltimore save 33 million gallons of water a year.
To do it, he has to sell 10,000 low-flow sink aerators at his shop, Environmentally Sound Products Inc., the area's first "green" store. It opened this week on Orchard Tree Lane in Towson.
The shop specializes in recycled products, recycling containers and supplies, energy- and water-saving devices, environmentally friendly diapers (non-disposable), non-toxic cleaners, books and gifts.
A former high school wrestling coach and salesman, Adleberg, 42, is not new to the Save-the-Earth movement. He's been active projects in the state, including last year's fight to prevent the construction of a golf course in Shawan Valley, where he says there is an abundance of dry wells, and a recent effort to save Oregon Ridge County Park.
"But I found that I wanted to do more and that my friends wanted to do more. . . . I'm not a pure environmentalist, but I'm the kind of person who would never throw anything out a car window."
Bonnie Raindrop, editor and publisher of the Baltimore Resources Journal, says the opening of Environmentally Sound will make more accessible certain products that were previously available only through mail order.
"I think the whole trend toward 'green' marketing is something that Gallup predicted," she says. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 96 percent of those surveyed said they would buy products that were less damaging to the environment "even if they cost more. . . . Having all this in one place is going to be really great."
But using environmentally safe products and separate trash containers for recycling is only a beginning, Adleberg says.
"To complete the cycle . . . you've got to resell the products that are manufactured," he says. "We're getting warehouses that are full of recycled stuff that's not being reused."
Adleberg says going into business was more difficult than he anticipated. "In Baltimore, it's tough to open a new business," he says.
Unable to get a loan, Adleberg used his own savings -- "a significant amount" -- to open the store that features more than 250 products. "It's really my own personal project," he says.
Adleberg opened his store in Towson because of its central location and the popularity of its recycling centers.
"This is a very environmentally concerned community," he says. "I just know there are people in this area that are really active."
Adleberg says recycling has continued to gain popularity partly because people want to take control of their futures and the futures of their children.
"The majority of people are interested in doing something," he says. "You can't come into this store and look at the products and say, 'Oh, that's stupid.' . . . I have confidence that if people think the process through, they'll participate."
According to Charles Reighart, recycling coordinator for Baltimore County, approximately 41 percent (by weight) of the county's waste stream is paper, and 17 percent is yard waste, including leaves and grass clippings.
"You can make a pretty significant dent in the waste stream simply by collecting newspapers and dropping them off" at a recycling center, Reighart says.
Adleberg plans to expand his business to include help for companies interested in implementing their own recycling programs. He will put up a bulletin board with information on environmentally aware companies. A former stockbroker, he will also recommend environmentally friendly investments.