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Volunteers Make Big Impact in Chesapeake

Posted on April 16, 2014 by | Comments (0)

Photo Courtesy of Friends of Indian River

Photo Courtesy of Friends of Indian River

This past Saturday, volunteers with Friends of Indian River joined with representatives from Chesapeake Public Works, Chesapeake Sherriff’s Office and other supporting agencies to plant 30 trees along Indian River Road. 15 citizen volunteers took time off on Friday to make it happen.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, 10 volunteers came out again Saturday morning to participate in a litter cleanup. Volunteers cleaned up litter from Indian River Road and also along the shoreline by the bridge. In total, Friends of Indian River were able to remove 18 bags of trash and a tire from their community. Rogard Ross, President of Friends of Indian River summarized last weekend’s success by saying, “The efforts to beautify our community would not be possible without the dedication of our volunteers.”

Friends of Indian River is a community organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all residents of the Indian River neighborhood in Chesapeake. They focus on preserving Indian River and other green spaces, sustainable gardening/landscaping, promoting attractive streetscapes and energizing local business development. With 25,000 residents, the Indian River neighborhoods encompass five square miles in the northeast corner of Chesapeake. The neighborhood surrounds Indian River Park, a 92 acre park, and Indian River, a tidal tributary of the Elizabeth River.

Photo Courtesy of Friends of Indian River

Photo Courtesy of Friends of Indian River

The community improvement work performed by Friends of Indian River is part of a bigger movement taking place across the entire country. Keep America Beautiful’ s Great American Cleanup is a season of transformation. In 2013, more than 4.5 million volunteers worked a collective 8.1 million hours to return nearly $175 million in measurable benefits in 21,000 communities across the country. Whether cleaning up litter, improving community parks with trees, flowers and gardens, or responsibly disposing of and recycling their unwanted items, participants in the Great American Cleanup are making a real difference in their communities.

A big thank you to Friends of Indian River for their hard work! If you’re in the Indian River area, take a moment to appreciate the hard work they’ve put in to improving the community for everyone! And if you’d like to join us in keeping Hampton Roads beautiful, sign up to participate in one of the upcoming Great American Cleanup events in your community!

Photo Courtesy of Friends of Indian River

Photo Courtesy of Friends of Indian River










Posted in: Beautification, Community events

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A Single Plastic Bottle Can Help Conserve Water

Posted on April 15, 2014 by | Comments (0)

bottledwaterDo you know how much water a family of five uses in the bathroom alone? Of course this is dependent on the length of your showers, whether you let the water run while you brush your teeth and the the size of your toilet’s reservoir. For those of you with a seven gallon toilet tank, flushing can quickly consume close to 400 gallons of water daily. This isn’t including any of the water used in the kitchen, the laundry room or outdoors. But a single 20-ounce plastic bottle can help you use water more wisely. By displacing water, a plastic bottle can help your family conserve water and cut back on utility bills.

How it works – The primary purpose of filling a 20-ounce plastic bottle with water is to displace water volume in the toilet tank. If you have a full bottle placed in your toilet’s reservoir, it takes up space and allows the regulator to turn off earlier than normal after each flush. Since the bottle itself never empties during the flush, the toilet has a constant amount of water that never needs a refill.

Room for Growth – A 20-ounce plastic bottle is the perfect size for smaller toilet reservoirs that have give you less room to work with. But many larger toilets may be able to accommodate up to a 2-liter bottle. However, you may be able to add more than one 20-ounce bottle to your tank if you want to experiment with saving even more water.

Savings per Flush – Using a 20-ounce bottle may not seem like a way to save a lot of water. But consider how often the toilet is flushed throughout any given day by each person under your roof. For the sake of argument, assume that there is an average of six flushes per person per day for a family of five. That 20-ounce bottle of water could save more than four and a half gallons of water per day. That’s more than 1,700 gallons every year!

This experiment just goes to show you how even the smallest changes in your daily activities can alter the amount of resources you consume. Rethink your daily routine and help conserve natural resources for future generations.

For more tips on adding conservation to your routine, check out the 3Rs on askHRgreen.

Guest blog submitted by Ashley Hardway who loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Connect with her at @NannyLady to find out more.

Posted in: Going Green, Household tips, Using water wisely

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The Eco-Friendly Easter Bunny

Posted on April 14, 2014 by | Comments Off

easter-bunny-3-1417665-mHere comes Peter Cottontail!  Spring has finally sprung and now it’s almost time for Easter!  This year, consider “greening” up your Easter traditions.  Here are a few examples of how to keep all your favorite Easter items eco-friendly.

1. Baskets:  Reuse the same baskets from last year.  The Easter Bunny did this for me when I was little and it took me awhile to catch on.  I will admit, I did reach a point where I started to really wonder when the Easter Bunny came back into the house to take back my basket for the next year.  So, if you have suspicious little ones in your house, consider replacing the basket with something useful that encourages outdoor play – like a pail or bucket!

2. Plastic Eggs:  I admit, I love the lure of brightly colored plastic eggs (okay fine, I like them because they usually have candy inside).  But, if you’re going to go the plastic egg route, reuse these year-to-year as well.  We all know plastic lasts forever so store them away after the holiday and bring them back out the next year.

3. Egg Replacements:  Do you ever find yourself hating the part where you crack and eat your perfectly decorated eggs?  Consider decorating something that you can keep around and reuse the next year!  For example, take the kids on a hunt for egg-shaped rocks to color or make your own reusable eggs out of egg cartons, paper mache or even pine cones!  (Mr. Google can help you figure out how to make those things!)

4. Still Want Eggs? Go Local: If you’re set on the real thing, buy eggs from a local farm. Buy Fresh, Buy Local: Hampton Roads lists these local farms for Easter egg orders:

  • Full Quiver Farm, Suffolk, VA
  • Gum Tree Farms, Chesapeake, VA
  • La Caridad Farm, Parksley, VA
  • Lucky Duck Landing Farm, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Pendulum Fine Meats, Norfolk, VA
  • Pleasant Pasture Farm, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Rainbow’s End Farm, Suffolk, VA
  • Stoney’s Produce, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Westside Produce and Provisions, Norfolk, VA

5. Egg Dye: If you plan to dye real eggs, forget the hazardous dyes you buy in the store. Make your own dye from natural ingredients! Things like spinach, blueberries, beets and grape juice can make beautiful dyes. (Again – consult Google for the directions…or Bing if that’s your thing!)

6. Easter Grass: This green stuff is so not worth it. Not only is it a useless form of plastic but it can actually be very dangerous to small children and pets. Replace it with shredded newspaper or magazines for a fun, recyclable alternative!

7. Treats: One word – Pinterest. If you’re not addicted to Pinterest then you are probably a lot more productive in life than I am but you are seriously missing out. Search “Eco-Friendly Easter” on Pinterest and just start pinning to your little heart’s content. Homemade candies, healthy alternatives, and super creative dessert ideas are in abundance. (I am totally going to try these carrot-shaped cupcakes!)

Happy Easter!

Posted in: Going Green, Holidays

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Forget Cash for Clunkers! How about Cash for Grass?

Posted on April 11, 2014 by | Comments Off

grass lawnRemember the 2009 “Cash for Clunkers” craze? You know the uber-popular rebate program that encouraged people to trade in their gas-guzzlers for fuel efficient vehicles? Well, Cash for Grass is just like that. Several local water utilities in California are encouraging people to replace their thirsty grass with drought tolerant native plants and trees. That’s right, rebates for planting more plants and trees. And yes, replacing your lawn with plants and trees is really THAT important.

California and much of the western United States has been plagued by drought and water shortages for many years. The Cash for Grass program is a response to these water shortages. By getting people to trade thirsty turf grass for drought tolerant plants, residents can greatly reduce their outdoor watering needs. We are lucky here in Hampton Roads to have plenty of fresh water for our everyday use. And while conserving water is certainly important, the Cash for Grass program has additional potential for Hampton Roads.

As thirsty as grass can be you would expect it to be great at soaking up rainwater, right? Well, the reality is that grass has weak root structures when compared with most other plants and trees. Just think, would you rather pull up grass roots or tree roots? The deeper roots of plants, trees and rain gardens help pull rainwater into the ground where pollutants can be filtered out before washing into waterways. This makes the Cash for Grass program a great way to reduce pollution in local waterways. And with new regulations on water quality for the Chesapeake Bay, innovative programs like Cash for Grass just might be popping up in Hampton Roads in the near future.

Check out these before and after pictures from SoCal Water Smart to see their program at work!

Before Cash for Grass

After Cash for Grass

So what do you think? Would you trade-in your grass to help cleanup water pollution and conserve water here in Hampton Roads?

Posted in: Beautification, Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Outdoor tips, Using water wisely, Waterways

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Vote to Help a Local School Go Green

Posted on April 9, 2014 by | Comments Off

crittendenThe City of Newport News is proud to be one of five finalists from across the country and the only one in Virginia in Taking Root™, a gardening and outdoor beautification grant program from Troy-Bilt, and Keep America Beautiful (KAB). Through May 25th, the public can visit and vote for Newport News Public Works Recycling – The School Green Space Project at Crittenden Middle School. The organization with the highest number of votes will receive a $12,000 cash grant, plus up to $2,000 in Troy-Bilt lawn care products. The finalist with the second most votes will be rewarded with an $8,000 grant and up to $1,500 in equipment, and the third place finalist will be rewarded with a $5,000 grant and up to $1,000 in equipment. The remaining finalists will receive Troy-Bilt products. Citizens can vote every day.

City Manager Jim Bourey stated, “We are excited to be chosen as one of the finalists for the Taking Root grant and believe the School Green Space Project will have a meaningful impact on this community.”

Vote for Newport News Public Works Recycling! The School Green Space Project, in its pilot year, is aimed at turning an underutilized courtyard area into a more useable, student-friendly, outdoor classroom. This project also aims to get students more involved in protecting and maintaining the natural environment to become better environmental stewards. Focuses of this outdoor classroom include recycling, environmental impacts of plastics, and resource conservation. The School Green Space project is a partnership between the City of Newport News, the Newport News Green Foundation, Newport News Public Schools, and Christopher Newport University.

To learn more about the City’s sustainability initiatives visit Newport News Green online or read about the City’s Roadmap to Sustainability.

This blog contributed by Laura C. Mulherin, Sustainability Analyst with the City of Newport News Department of Public Works.

Posted in: Beautification, For educators

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