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A Sink Full of Appreciation this Thanksgiving

Posted on November 25, 2015 by | Comments Off

sink2I’m in love with my new sink.  After 3 months of DIY renovations we finally moved into our new house and I’ve got to say, it’s one of my favorite things amidst the mountains of boxes.  I’m trying to take it one box at a time but I may lose my mind if I don’t get everything unpacked soon.  It’s fitting that Thanksgiving is almost here because as painful as the moving process is, there is plenty that I have to be thankful for.  For starters, I now have three toilets.  Three.  There are nearly 2.5 billion people in this world that don’t even have one toilet.  I also have conveniences like clean water at the turn of a tap and light at the flip of a switch – both very easy to take for granted until you don’t have them, and a lot of people don’t have them.   I’m even thankful for days when I think I’ll lose my mind because I wouldn’t have nearly as many of them without my two healthy, crazy, screaming kids that light up my world, and my two shedding, slobbering, barking dogs that think I’m the best thing that has ever happened to them. 

Another one that tops the list is my handy husband, who managed to turn all of my Pinterest-inspired ideas into reality and create a place that already feels like home (love you, hubby).  The kitchen was our biggest project and we went with modern white cabinets, butcher block countertops, and a big farmhouse-style apron-front sink.  Just look at that sink!  I know, I know, I need clean water, I don’t need a cool sink that it drips into, but we all have our weaknesses and thanks to IKEA this sink was within budget.  It almost makes me happy about doing dishes.  Almost.

The coolest part about this sink is something you can’t see in the photo – no garbage disposal.  The house had one but when the old kitchen came out that sucker was not going back in.  How could I do that to such a magnificent sink?!  It’s just too pretty.  Going disposal-free not only frees up storage space in my sink cabinet, it protects my pipes and the environment.  Garbage disposals grind food into tiny particles so they can get down the initial part of your home’s plumbing, but the sewer system was not designed to deal with your leftovers or fats, oils, and grease (called FOG) that are incorrectly disposed of down a drain.  Food particles stick to FOG, build up on pipe walls and can eventually cause clogs and sewer backups in your plumbing or in larger sewer pipes down the line that cause spills into our communities.   Instead of relying on a disposal, I scrape my leftovers in the trash and keep a strainer in the sink drain to catch any food particles that attempt to escape when I’m washing up.  I don’t have to worry about sewage making an appearance in my fabulous sink and I feel good about protecting the environment from sewage spills.  Win. 

sink1You can do it too – ditch the disposal this holiday season!  If you can’t bring yourself to remove your disposal, at least pretend it’s not there and keep a strainer in your sink at all times.  It’s OK to take baby steps.  Your pipes are already thanking you.  But before you go dig out that sink strainer, here is one more photo of my fabulous sink for your viewing pleasure.




Posted in: Fats, oils and grease disposal, Going Green, Holidays, Household tips

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Bags of Fun – Suffolk America Recycles Day

Posted on November 24, 2015 by | Comments Off

Photo Credit: Suffolk News Herald  Wayne Jones, litter control coordinator and spokesperson for Keep America Beautiful, stands at Morgan Memorial Library with some of the bags full of plastic bags that were collected during a recycling event on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Suffolk News Herald
Wayne Jones at Morgan Memorial Library with some of the bags full of plastic bags that were collected for America Recycles Day.

For America Recycles Day, Suffolk Public Libraries opened their doors and within minutes citizens were steadily pouring into the Morgan Memorial and North Suffolk locations bringing their unwanted plastic bags, old batteries, retired cell phones and dried up ink cartridges.  Keep Suffolk Beautiful organized the recycling drive joining thousands of local organizers holding recycling events across the country. America Recycles Day is a national initiative of Keep America Beautiful.  In addition to collecting recyclables the two stations had free giveaways, storytime for children and a wealth of recycling information. “It was a really successful drive and the community came out to show their support,” said Kathy Russell, Chair of Keep Suffolk Beautiful, who was out at the North Suffolk location. Kathy reported that local high school students were taking selfies, homeowners were excited to empty a closet full of plastic bags and younger children had a great time at story time.  ”It was a lot of fun and people were grateful for such events to help prompt them to do some extra recycling.” 

Oceanography students from Nansemond River High School were encouraged to recycle their bags to help keep our oceans clean.  The Keep Suffolk Beautiful team at Morgan Memorial location was equally as popular and they were accompanied by the Virginia Master Naturalists who wanted to display their successful program for Fishing Line receptacles found at our city fishing hot spots.  Claudia Lee a Master Naturalist said, “We wanted to partner with Keep Suffolk Beautiful as they funded our receptacle program and we wanted to show the public how much fishing line we have kept out of our waterways.  It was also great to inform the public about the Virginia Master Naturalists, who we are, what we do and how you can join.”

At the end of the drive there were hundreds of batteries, boxes of ink and laser cartridges, two bags of old cell phones and enough bags to fill three large SUV’s.  One of the SUV’s was sent to Nansemond River High School where the bags were delivered to teacher Sally Karadeema whose FCCLA class (The Family, Career, Community, Leaders of America) has been busy turning plastic bags into crocheted mats for the homeless.  Ms. Karadeema who reached out to Keep Suffolk Beautiful for plastic bags for their project was extremely grateful to receive enough bags to complete it.  Ms. Karadeema said, “It takes about 500 plastic bags to make one mat and I’m sure we now have more than enough to finish our target of five mats”.  Ms. Karadeema kindly loaned Keep Suffolk Beautiful two finished mats to display at the drive and many of the people attending the event were there to recycle but also to support the student’s efforts. 

bag prepThe mats from Ms. Karadeema’s class are brilliant and the public thought so too. It was great to showcase their project and use it as a talking point for the need to recycle.  The average person uses 500 bags a year and it takes about 500 bags to make one mat.  The mat was a great visual to portray our message.  We thank the students for their hard work and also Suffolk Public Libraries for hosting us.  Keep Suffolk Beautiful would like the public to know they can recycle household batteries and ink cartridges all year long at all Suffolk Public Library Locations.    

Blog contributed by Wayne Jones, Litter Control Coordinator with the City of Suffolk.

Posted in: Beautification, Community events, plastic bags, Reduce reuse and recycle

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Are You Team Deep Fried?

Posted on November 20, 2015 by | Comments Off

Over 45 million turkeys will be prepared for family feasts across the country this Thanksgiving and people are still debating the best way to cook the bird – oven roasted or deep fried. Traditional roasting has its perks like plentiful juices for making gravy and a decreased likelihood of starting a holiday house fire. But the deep fried turkey is quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon, mostly due to the moister, more flavorful meal it creates. If your family is #TeamDeepFried, take a few minutes to review these fast facts you need to know for your Thanksgiving feast.

  • Go for a smaller turkey. Turkeys between 8 and 10 pounds are perfect for frying. Anything over 12 pounds is too big to safely deep fry.
  • Use the right amount of oil. With the turkey inside, oil should be 3-5 inches from the top of the fryer.
  • Allow 3-4 minutes of cooking time per pound of turkey.
  • Let the fryer oil cool completely before beginning cleanup.
  • Reuse your oil. Cooking oil can be reused for up to 6 hours of frying time. Simply strain out any food particles and return to original container for storage for up to 6 months.
  • Recycle your oil on Saturday, November 28th from 10 AM to 2 PM in the the Bass Pro Shops parking lot at 1972 Power Plant Parkway in Hampton. Or find a collection location near you. Many cities or counties collect used fryer oil for recycling or disposal as household hazardous waste.
  • Trash your oil. Freeze it or mix it with sawdust/sand to solidify the oil and throw it out on trash day. Kitty litter will work, but never use scented or disinfectant varieties as they can react to oil and cause fires.
  • Never attempt to dispose of cooking oil in home plumbing including sinks, toilets or garbage disposals. Doing so can damage your home plumbing and lead to expensive repairs!
  • Don’t cause an “oil” spill in your community! Dumping oil anywhere outside including ditches and storm drains is a huge no-no. Oil left outdoors can find its way into local waterways where it will float on top of water and harm the habitat of local fish and crabs.

Follow these tips and you’ll have a perfect, deep fried Thanksgiving!

Gobble, Gobble!

Posted in: Fats, oils and grease disposal, Holidays

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Protecting What’s Essential

Posted on November 18, 2015 by | Comments Off

watersupplyColeridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner brings to mind a tale of horror where the boat is surrounded by water, but “not a drop to drink.”  The truth is that this natural resource is recycled endlessly, but there is no “new” water.  What we have is all that we have.  Much knowledge, science and skill goes into maintaining our water world for human use and consumption.  So, continuing to protect the sources and treatment processes is truly essential to our lives.  We can’t do without it. 

Take a few minutes to view this video provided by The Water Research Foundation and learn about the importance of water to life as we know it and the processes used to maintain our water resources.

Blog post contributed by Jerry Hoddinott with the City of Chesapeake.

Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, For educators, Uncategorized, Using water wisely

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Hampton Waterways Restoration Project Art Auction Fundraiser and Exhibit

Posted on November 16, 2015 by | Comments Off

Courtesy of West Mercury Center for the Arts

Courtesy of West Mercury Center for the Arts
A small portion of the local beach trash picked up by Mara Yoko. If you think the beaches are doing fine…look again.

Hampton Waterways Restoration Project (HWRP), a volunteer committee from the city of Hampton’s Clean City Commission, is hosting its first Art Auction Fundraiser and Exhibit at the West Mercury Center for the Arts located on 2525 West Mercury Blvd, Hampton, VA, 23666.

The Art Auction and exhibit will showcase art made from and inspired by trash found in waterways in the City of Hampton. The exhibit’s opening reception was on November 7 at 6 pm and the turn out was great. 80 plus citizens and artists joined in celebrating our waterways and supporting the art that showcases the beauty and pollution found in the waterways. The exhibit will run through November 21 where a closing reception will be held from  3 pm-7 pm featuring refreshments and music. This exhibit aims to raise awareness about the beauty and importance of improving waterways in Hampton. For the closing reception there is a suggested donation of $5.00 upon entrance. Auction proceeds will serve as seed funds for future projects that support making Hampton’s waterways more swimmable and fishable. 

Waterways from the City of Hampton are connected to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an integral part of the human health and wealth of 17 million people. According to the largest independent conservation organization, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation,”…many have questioned whether or not the efforts to clean polluted waterways are all for naught…if, in the end, the work for clean water will be more expensive than what the resource we save is actually worth. However, after decades of lost jobs, poor health, and dirty water as a result of the Bay’s degradation, it’s become quite clear: It is more expensive—both for the economy and the human condition—not to save and restore our extraordinary waters.”

Courtesy of West Mercury Center for the Arts

Courtesy of West Mercury Center for the Arts
Artist Larry VanOver with trash collected from Buckroe, Grand view and Ft Monroe beaches in less than 6 months.

For three years and counting, HWRP has worked in the City of Hampton on various solo and collaborative projects with the goal of improving Hampton’s waterways through education, advocacy, public awareness, tree restoration, water quality monitoring, litter cleanups and more. “We are always looking for different ways to connect with people about the importance of fostering healthy waterways in Hampton.  This year we are debuting the Art Auction to show citizens both the beauty of our waterways, and also how our waterways struggle with pollution.” says HWRP Chair, Claire Neubert.

For questions or more information about the HWRP Art Auction Fundraiser, please contact Mara Yoko, Art Auction Chair, at or 757-288-1180.

 To learn more about HWRP and how you can get involved, please contact HWRP Chair, Claire Neubert at or Hampton Clean City Commission staff member, Cris Ausink at or 757-727-1158.

Hampton Waterways Restoration Project (HWRP) is a volunteer committee started in 2013 through the Hampton Clean City Commission with the mission to restore and maintain clean waterways in Hampton that are swimmable and fishable. Through community cleanup initiatives, advocacy and educational outreach, the committee works to change citizen’s attitudes and behaviors to contribute cleaner and healthier waterways in Hampton.

 Blog post contributed by Debbie Blanton, Clean City Coordinator for the City of Hampton.

Posted in: Beautification, Keeping storm drains free, Waterways

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