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Green Your School Year

Posted on August 22, 2017 by | Comments Off

back to school

G is for Green! Practice the 3 Rs of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling this fall

Reading, writing and arithmetic may be top of mind as the school year approaches, but parents and students should also be thinking of reducing, reusing and recycling as they head back to school. These simple green tips will save families time and money, while making the school transition easy on the environment!

  • Take Inventory: Before hitting the store for school supplies, take inventory of what is already around the house. See if last year’s staples—such as binders, pencil cases, supply boxes and backpacks—could be used for another term.
  • Close the Recycling Loop: When purchasing new items, such as pens, paper, notebooks and pencils, look for products made from recycled materials to close the recycling loop.
  • Choose Paperless: Many schools, PTAs and student clubs offer the option of paperless correspondence. Instead of receiving both hard and electronic copies of the school newsletter, fundraisers and announcements, sign up for electronic only and save these in an e-file for future reference.
  • Stockpile Cool Stuff for Art Projects: Those old magazines, cloth scraps, bottle caps and toilet paper rolls could be transformed into amazing works of art. Ask your student’s teachers if they can use such items.
  • Waste-free Lunch: No need to pack green eggs and ham to send children to school with a green lunch. Follow these quick tips for a waste-free lunch:
    • Use reusable meal/snack containers instead of plastic baggies
    • Send flatware instead of disposable utensils
    • Use refillable drink bottles instead of juice boxes or bottled water
  • Buy Used and Save: Consignment and thrift stores give clothes a second life and your wallet a break! Before buying new apparel, see what’s available at local secondhand stores. In addition, many PTAs sell used school uniforms as a way to fund field trips and special programs.
  • Catch the Bus: While walking or biking to school is the greenest way to get to class, sending your child to school on the bus saves gas and puts less cars on the road, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions and improved air quality.
  • Clean up your School’s Act: Organize a schoolyard cleanup at your school each fall and spring. Cleanup events are a great opportunity for students, parents, teachers and neighbors to come together to give your school’s outdoor area a good once-over. Pick up litter, rake leaves, spread mulch, plant native plants and repair and spruce up the playground for an A+ schoolyard.
  • Set up a School Recycling Program: If your school doesn’t provide recycling in classrooms or the cafeteria, speak with the administrators about starting one. Schools can also compete for national awards and prizes in competitive recycling contests such as the Recycle-Bowl or the Trex plastic bag recycling program.

Just for Teachers

We have lots of resources available just for teachers including Green Learning, a free education guide geared toward the region’s sixth-grade classrooms. Written according to Virginia SOL guidelines by a team of experts who work in the region’s public works and public utilities departments, Green Learning is packed with colorful maps, bold graphics, puzzles and fun activities specific to the Hampton Roads environment. Download Green Learning and the Teacher’s Guide now and stay tuned for an exciting announcement regarding a new edition coming in 2018!

Teachers can also apply for environmental education mini-grants of up to $500 from askHRgreen.org. The mini-grants are intended to provide funding for environmentally-themed projects and may be used to fund projects big and small. Start planning your project now!

Teachers can encourage their students to practice green behaviors around the classroom with the Green Classroom Pledge. Teachers can recognize and reward students at random throughout the school year for practicing green classroom behaviors such as using scrap paper, picking up litter or packing low waste lunches.

How will you green your school year? Let us know on Facebook!

Posted in: Going Green

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So What Do You Do With Pool Water?

Posted on July 28, 2017 by | Comments Off

Pool chemicalsPool ownership can be great.  You can swim anytime you want, and entertain the kids without leaving home.  All you have to do is step out into your yard to enjoy it.

Of course, all that beautiful water occasionally needs to be drained.  What do you do with the stuff?  Are you allowed to drain it into a stormwater system?

Pool water can be drained to the drainage system, but only when it is dechlorinated.  After all, you don’t want to kill our crabs, fish, and other aquatic life by releasing chlorine into the environment.  State law prohibits discharging chlorinated pool water.

Here is how to drain your pool responsibly and legally:

  • Dechlorinate pool water by letting it sit for several days without adding more chlorine. 
  • Your water’s pH level should be between 6.5 and 8.5 before draining.
  • If you are in a hurry to drain your pool, you can add sodium thiosulphate to break down the chlorine faster.  Please remember that it will still take time for the chlorine to break down…DO NOT discharge pool water immediately after adding this chemical.
  • Dechlorination times depend on the weather and the volume of water being discharged.  If you have a pool, you have a test kit.  Use it before discharging water.
  • When in doubt, let the water sit longer! 
  • Drain your pool water over grass.  This will help some of the water infiltrate into the soil.  

Pool filterNow let’s talk backwash, as in that water produced when you backwash your filters.  This water should not be drained into the storm drainage system.  Backwash water has a heavy concentration of chlorine and other pool chemicals.  It also contains sediment and small debris that had been lodged in the filter.  Run filter water through the grass to a landscaping area.  If need be, create an infiltration pit so backwash is absorbed into the ground. 

With a little bit of time and planning, you can maintain your pool in an environmentally, legal manner.  Enjoy your summer, and enjoy that pool!

Posted in: Outdoor tips, Waterways

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Algae: Let’s Get Rid of the Scum

Posted on July 12, 2017 by | Comments Off

pond_algaePond Scum. Green Slime. Mosquito-Breeding Muck. 

Nobody likes a pond covered with algae. Algae can be beneficial, but that all-encompassing, gooey mess is too much. That pond scum is a smothering blanket that blocks light and kills plants and fish. Why do some ponds turn into scum pits, while others have minimal algae growth? As a pond owner or someone living near a pond, what can you do to prevent it?

Algae grows in stagnantwaters. It loves direct sunlight and nutrients. You can discourage algae growth by adding oxygen to your pond and reducing exposure to the phosphates and nitrogen found in fertilizers. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Aerate! Bubbling aerators and fountains keep the water moving and add oxygen to ponds. Higher oxygen levels reduce algae growth.
  • Add plants! Plants add oxygen. They also use some of those nutrients that contribute to excessive algae growth. Pond plants can improve a pond’s aesthetics while keeping the water clear. Your best sources of information on plants are local nurseries and garden centers that specialize in ponds and wetlands plantings. Be aware that ponds located near tidal water may contain salt or brackish water. If that is the case, opt for salt-tolerant species.
  • Treat if you must, but use an environmentally friendly algaecide. Do not grab the stuff you would use in a swimming pool. Use only the amount recommended.

Now for the really important step: Reduce the fertilizer! If you use too much, you are fertilizing the algae. If you feed it, scum will grow. Use a nutrient management plan. That means that you should have your soil tested before using fertilizer. That way you can limit fertilizer use to what your soil needs. Extra fertilizer is not absorbed by your plants…it runs downstream. Also, avoid fertilizing near a drainage system and watch the weather! You don’t want to fertilize just before a rain storm.

Following these steps will keep your fertilizer and your landscaping dollars from washing away. In addition to the money-saving benefits, reducing algae makes ponds look better. It also helps the environment. 

Posted in: Lawn and landscape, Outdoor tips, Waterways

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Help Your Christmas Tree Give Back

Posted on December 18, 2014 by | Comments Off

Hampton Roads Christmas Tree RecyclingThe fresh smell of pine during the holiday season is tough to turn down. So if you are among the many residents in Hampton Roads who will be enjoying a real-deal Christmas tree this year, make sure you dispose of it properly when you are finished with it. Many cities and counties in Hampton Roads offer free Christmas tree recycling after the holidays. Christmas trees are great for making mulch which is then used to improve community parks and green spaces come springtime. Some localities are even able to sell this mulch, made from locally recycled yard waste, to the public.

Recycling your Christmas tree is really a win-win situation. And Christmas trees aren’t the only recyclable byproduct of the holidays! Review the holiday recycling guide to make sure all your holiday waste ends up in the proper container. Come on Hampton Roads, get your 2015 off to a great, green start!

*All Christmas trees turned in for recycling must be free of any ornaments, tinsel and tree stands. As of this date, the following cities and counties have announced their Christmas tree recycling schedules.

ChesapeakeGloucester | Hampton | Isle of Wight | James City County | Newport News | Norfolk | Poquoson | Portsmouth | SmithfieldSuffolk | Surry County | Virginia Beach | Williamsburg | York County

 

Chesapeake

When: Dec. 26–Jan. 8

Where: Trees will be picked up on the regular trash collection day. Trees placed at the curb between January 2 and 8 will be recycled.

What to know: Remove all ornaments, tinsel and the stand. Place it separately from bulk waste and regular trash so it can be easily collected. Please do not put in a bag or put netting around it.

 

Gloucester

When: Ongoing

Where: Residents may bring their Christmas trees to any Gloucester County Convenience Center during regular hours. See the list below for locations. Trees should be placed in the brush container and trees will be mulched along with other brush.

  • Middle Peninsula Landfill and Recycling Center – 3714 Waste Management Way (Entrance on Route 17). The Convenience Center at the Landfill operates on the same schedule as the other County Convenience Centers: Monday – Friday 8 AM to 7 PM and Saturday 7 AM to 7 PM.
  • Belroi – 5122 Hickory Ford Road
  • Dutton – 10430 Burke’s Pond Road
  • Court House – 6550 Beehive Drive
  • Hayes – 7599 Guinea Road

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.

 

Hampton

When: Ongoing

Where: Trees will be picked up at curbside on regular trash collection day. Residents can also bring naturally grown trees to be recycled at the Yard Waste Transfer Site, 100 N. Park Lane (off Big Bethel Road at entrance to Bethel Landfill) from 8 AM to 3 PM. Monday – Saturday (closed city holidays).

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Place natural trees separate from bulk waste and regular trash. Do not put in a bag or put netting around it. Artificial trees can be disposed of at curbside as part of the bulk waste. Artificial trees should not be placed with leaves, grass or tree branches.

 

Isle of Wight

When: Ongoing

Where: Natural Christmas trees can be recycled at any of Isle of Wight’s eight convenience centers.

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.

 

James City County

When: Dec. 26–Jan. 31

Where: James City County’s three convenience centers (listed below).

  • Jolly Pond Road – 1204 Jolly Pond Road – Open every day 7 AM to 5 PM.
  • Tewning Road – 117 Tewning Road – Sunday – Closed, Monday 8 AM – 12 PM, Tuesday – Saturday 8 AM – 4 PM.
  • Toano – 185 Industrial Boulevard (Hankins Industrial Park) – Open every day 8 AM – 4 PM.

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.

 

Newport News

When: Ongoing

Where: Natural trees are recyclable as regular brush, and may be placed on the curb as brush collection.

What to know: Please remove the root ball and any non-natural decorations including tinsel and lights. Place tree in a brush pile separate from any bulk being set out. Christmas trees (live or artificial) may also be brought to the Recovery Operations Center located at 550 Atkinson Way.

 

Norfolk

When: Ongoing

Where: Natural trees are collected for composting on regular trash day as part of Norfolk’s yard waste collection service. In addition, residents can bring natural trees, holiday lights and artificial trees to the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center – 1176 Pineridge Road, Monday through Saturday, 10 AM – 2 PM. Artificial trees may also be scheduled for bulk waste collection by calling the Norfolk Cares IMPACT Center at (757) 441-5813, or by completing a request online at www.norfolk.gov/BulkWasteForm. For more information, contact Norfolk’s Department of Public Works Division of Waste Management at 757-441-5813 or email pworks@norfolk.gov.

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.

 

Poquoson

When: Dec. 26–Jan. 20

Where: Residents can drop off natural trees to be recycled at the Municipal Pool Parking Lot (16 Municipal Drive, Poquoson)

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Christmas trees and yard waste are accepted year-round at the VPPSA Compost Facility (located at 145 Goodwin Neck Road, York County), Monday – Saturday, 8 AM – 4 PM.

 

Portsmouth

When: Ongoing

Where: Curbside; residents may place their tree at the curb for pickup on their normal trash collection day.

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, garland and lights.

 

Smithfield

When: Through Jan. 15

Where: Curbside

What to know: You must contact the Town Receptionist at 365-4200 and provide your address if you have a Christmas tree to be picked up. Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, garland and lights.

 

Suffolk

When: Dec. 27-Jan. 9

Where: Curbside

What to know: Tree are not recycled, but residents can put them out for disposal for two weeks after Christmas with their regular trash and the collection will not be deducted from their (12) annual free bulk collections.

 

Surry County

When: Jan. 1-Jan. 31

Where: Surry County Collection Centers (listed below)

  • Goodson Path Solid Waste Station – 409 Goodson Path, Dendron
  • Pineview Solid Waste Station – 101 Pineview Road, Waverly
  • Mantura Road Solid Waste Station – 60 Mantura Road, Surry

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Please ask attendants for assistance to ensure that your tree is placed in the designated container.

 

Virginia Beach

When: Normal trash collection day

Where: Curbside or the Virginia Beach Landfill and Resource Recovery Center at 1989 Jake Sears Road with proof of residency.

What to know: Christmas trees will be handled as normal yard debris and need to be free of any decorations or tinsel. Trees collected curbside will be processed into compost. Trees dropped off at the Virginia Beach Landfill and Resource Recovery Center will be ground into mulch.

 

Williamsburg

When: Jan. 5 and Jan. 12

Where: Curbside

What to know: The City Crews will be collecting Christmas trees on Monday, January 5 and Monday, January 12. Trees must be placed at the curb before 7 AM and should be free of the stand, ornaments and lights. Please place separately from bulk waste and regular trash.

 

York County

When: Jan. 5-Jan. 9

Where: Curbside – tree must be at curb by 7 AM on January 5 for collection that week

What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, lights and should be no bigger than seven feet in length. Christmas trees and yard waste are accepted year-round at the VPPSA Compost Facility (located at 145 Goodwin Neck Road, York County), Monday – Saturday, 8 AM – 4 PM.

Posted in: Holidays

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America Recycles Day Events in Hampton Roads

Posted on October 13, 2014 by | Comments Off

ard-widgetaskHRgreen.org and cities across Hampton Roads will celebrate America Recycles Day in November with a variety of outreach and recycling collection events. America Recycles Day happens each year on November 15th and is the only nationally-recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the U.S. It’s our hope that celebrating recycling and all the wonderful things it does for our region will inspire residents to recycle more, trash less all year long.

For more details about the America Recycles Day celebration nearest you, select a city/county from the list below.

Chesapeake

Who: Open to the public
What:
askHRgreen.org Electronics Recycling, Document Shredding & Clothing/Household Item Donation
Where: Greenbrier Mall – in the overflow parking lot between Dillard’s and JCPenney
Date: November 15, 2014
Time: 9am-noon
What to bring: Electronics (no TVs, please), documents for shredding, clothing, kitchenware, and household items – for complete details view the event flyer

Hampton

Who: Residency restrictions apply
What:
VPPSA Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling
Where: Hampton Public Works Operations Complex
Date: November 15, 2014
Time: 8am-noon
What to bring:
Electronics (no TVs, please) and household hazardous waste – view complete event information at VPPSA online

Isle of Wight

Who: Isle of Wight residents only
What:
Isle of Wight Recycling Day
Where: Multiple locations
Date: November 15, 2014
Time: 7am-7pm
What to bring:
electronics, plastic bags, yard waste and more – for complete details view the event flyer

James City County

Who: Open to the public
What:
Litter Enforcement & Recycling Expo
Where: Legacy Hall, New Town
Date: November 7, 2014
Time: noon-7pm
For complete details view the event flyer

Newport News

Who: Newport News residents only
What:
Newport News Residential Recycling Program
Where:  Newport News Resource Recovery Operations Center
Date: Fridays & Saturdays (excluding city observed holidays)
Time: 8am-4pm
What to bring:
electronics, household hazardous waste and yard waste - for complete details view the program website

Norfolk

Who: Some residency restrictions apply
What:
Recycle Norfolk Day
Where:
Norfolk Waste Management Facility
Date:
November 15, 2014
Time:
9am-2pm
What to bring:
electronics, documents for shredding, clothing, kitchenware, household items, plastic bags and more - for complete details view the event flyer

Portsmouth

Who: Open to the public
What:
Portsmouth Recycles Day
Where: Monumental United Methodist Church
Date: November 15, 2014
Time: 9am-noon
What to bring:
electronics (no TVs, please), documents for shredding, clothing, kitchenware, household items, and household hazardous waste – for complete details view the event flyer

Virginia Beach

Who: Open to the public
What:
America Recycle Day Celebration
Where: Tidewater Community College – Joint Use Library
Date: November 13
Time: 11am-2pm
For complete details view the event flyer

Who: Virginia Beach residents only
What:
Virginia Beach Residential Recycling Program
Where: Virginia Beach Landfill and Resource Recovery Center
Date: Tuesday through Saturday (excluding city observed holidays)
Time: 7am-4:30pm
What to bring:
electronics, metals, household hazardous waste, small household items, clothing/shoes, oyster/clam shells and more – for complete details visit www.vbgov.com/landfill

Yorktown

Who: Open to the public
What:
askHRgreen.org Electronics Recycling & Document Shredding
Where: York County Sports Complex
Date: November 15, 2014
Time: 10am-2pm
What to bring:
electronics (no TVs, please) and documents for shredding – for complete details view the event flyer

Posted in: Community events, Reduce reuse and recycle

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