Beaching it in Hampton Roads
How to Pack and How to Play the Environmentally-Responsible Way
(Hampton Roads, Va., July 22, 2016) – Residents and visitors alike flock to Hampton Roads’ beaches each year to enjoy the ocean spray and feel the sand between their toes. But did you know that what we do at home and at play can have an impact on whether our coastal resources remain open for swimming, boating and fun on the water?
Between May and September, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) monitors the bacteria levels at beaches in an effort to protect the public from high levels of harmful bacteria. Pet and wildlife waste, sewage discharge from boats, sanitary sewer overflows and backed-up septic systems are often to blame, and VDH officials will issue a beach closure notice when bacteria levels are high. In addition, cigarette butt litter and trash contribute to a sandscape that’s a far cry from being “postcard perfect.”
“We’re lucky to have so many beautiful beaches here in Hampton Roads,” said Katie Cullipher, a team leader with askHRgreen.org, a region-wide environmental public service initiative. “If everybody does their part to keep them clean, we will enjoy them for years to come.”
The experts at askHRgreen.org encourage all beach-goers to practice the following simple steps to help keep our shorelines naturally beautiful:
Homework – What we do at home can help keep our beaches clean – even from miles away. Help reduce bacteria pollution in your local waterways by scooping the poop; not feeding geese and ducks; and preventing sewer overflows by keeping wipes, food and grease out of your toilets and drains.
Think Before You Pack – Instead of individually-packaged items or plastic sandwich bags, pack lunches and snacks in reusable containers. Small plastic food packaging items (like straws and wrappers) can easily be carried away on a breezy beach day, so avoid those altogether. And, “just say no” to plastic bags and Styrofoam cups and coolers and opt for reusable cloth bags and hard or soft insulated coolers for toting to the beach.
Carpool – A day at the beach is more fun with friends. Just be sure to carpool to get there, avoiding unnecessary emissions.
Fill ‘er Up Before You Go – Opt for a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water and fill it up from the tap before leaving home.
Get Involved – Consider participating in an organized beach cleanup event, like Clean the Bay Day or the Great American Cleanup. Or, organize your own at your favorite beach or park.
Leave No Trace Behind – At the end of your day at the beach, make sure you take all of your belongings with you – including your trash and recyclables to be disposed of properly. Always ensure no litter is left behind.
askHRgreen.org is your go-to resource for all things green in Hampton Roads— from recycling tips and pointers for keeping local waterways clean to water-saving ideas and simple steps to make local living easy on the environment. Launched in 2011, the region-wide public awareness and education campaign is administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and powered by the following members: The cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg; the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry and York; the Town of Smithfield; and HRSD. Like askHRgreen.org on Facebook, follow on Twitter, tune in to YouTube and catch the “Let’s Talk Green” blog, written by a team of local experts.