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It’s a Lean, Mean, REPURPOSABLE Machine!

Posted on February 27, 2015 by | Comments (0)

bag beforeIf you already have one of the askHRgreen reusable bags, you know that it’s not just a bag…it’s a veggie-totin, pizza-packin, clothes-carryin, shoppin-stuffin, book bag of EPIC importance.  But that’s not all.  As I recently discovered, these bags are not only reusable, they’re REPURPOSABLE.  I had never thought of repurposing a reusable bag.  I mean, by simply using it for its intended purpose I can eliminate plastic bags from my routine. Feeling like a good little environmental steward doesn’t get any easier. 

Unfortunately, although I keep reusable bags in the car I often forget to take them into the grocery store with me – greenie FAIL!  Fortunately, I work at HRSD, which started a plastic bag recycling program so when I do end up with more plastic bags than I can reuse (or other kinds of plastic film packaging) I can bring them into work to be recycled and feel a little better about my self-proclaimed greenie status.  As the saying goes:  Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Reduce usage first, reuse materials for as long as possible, and then recycle.  Check out A Bag’s Life to find a plastic bag recycling drop-off location convenient to you and increase your own greenie score.

Not just a bag!

Not just a bag!  Find out how to make this artist’s pouch at

But back to the reusable bags.  If you find yourself with more reusable bags than you are actually using, or if you have a damaged bag – don’t throw them away!  A typical non-woven polypropylene bag must be used at least 11 times before its carbon footprint is less than a single-use plastic bag.  Yikes.  Reusable bags collecting dust are NOT green (talk about a greenie-fail).  Repurpose instead.  Check out how Lisa’s son created an artist’s pouch from one of our reusable bags on her local blog, October Epiphany

What other ideas do you have for your lean, mean, repurposable machine?

Posted in: Going Green, Household tips, plastic bags, Reduce reuse and recycle

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Properly Dispose of Your Old Light Bulbs

Posted on February 20, 2015 by | Comments Off

As an interior designer, I see firsthand something that most people never think much about: Americans use a lot of light bulbs. In fact, the average American household has 45 of them! Though technology has brought us much more efficient and longer lasting bulbs, eventually, they all burn out.

When you imagine the millions of bulbs thrown away every year, you begin to get a sense of the potential impact on the environment. Different bulbs require different disposal strategies, and you’re best off checking with your local waste management and recycling provider about specific requirements where you live. Whatever those may be, here’s a quick and easy run down of how to dispose of any type of bulb you might be working with in your home or office.

Light bulbIncandescent Bulbs
If you’ve still got some of these floating around, they’ll burn out soon enough. Incandescents are filled with a gas, but no real toxic material. Still, they are not yet accepted at most recycling centers. For now, just throw these away with the regular trash.




CFLCompact Fluorescent Lamps
You probably know these as CFLs, and probably also know that they last much longer than incandescent bulbs. Because they use mercury, you can’t throw these out or even recycle them. If you put them in the trash, you risk releasing mercury into your neighborhood’s air, soil and water. They require specific and careful disposal, offered by most municipalities through household hazardous waste disposal. Check with your local waste management and recycling provider to find out where you can dispose of these.

Halogen bulbs
Halogens are commonly used in outdoor floodlighting, but are also used in some indoor fixtures. They also use a gas-halogen gas-but like incandescents, are not particularly toxic, so these can safely be thrown into the trash as well.

LEDLED bulbs
Light Emitting Diodes, as they’re also known, don’t require any dangerous chemicals at all. That means you can throw these away in the trash. And to that the fact that these bulbs can last 25,000 hours (about 10 years if used for 6 hours per day) and you can see why LEDs are the greenest choice for lighting your home or office. 



 This guest blog submitted by interior designer, Kerrie Kelly. Kerrie gives insight about design’s impact on the environment, and shares her knowledge for The Home Depot.

Posted in: Household tips, Reduce reuse and recycle

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Charged Up for Battery Day!

Posted on February 18, 2015 by | Comments Off

batteryHappy National Battery Day!

(Yes this is a real thing.)

The purpose of the day is actually to celebrate how valuable batteries are to our everyday life.  And once you stop to think about it, they really are everywhere.  Cell phones, TV remotes, cars, toys, heck even the wireless keyboard I’m using right now!  Batteries are great while they’re working but even the Energizer Bunny will stop playing his drum eventually.  So what happens when batteries die and we just toss them in the regular garbage?

Batteries contain toxic materials – cadmium, nickel, lead, lithium, sometimes even mercury.  All of these materials are hazardous waste and can do serious damage to the environment if improperly disposed of in a landfill.  The toxins can leak out and can get into soils and ground water, causing harm to plants and animals.  Cadmium, for example, can damage micro-organisms in soil, affecting the breakdown of organic matter.  Fish found in waterways polluted with some of these chemicals are no longer edible for humans.  Not good! 

Luckily, there is a solution: Recycling!  A majority of the batteries you’ll ever come into contact with are completely recyclable.  Many municipalities have household hazardous waste collections that will accept batteries.  You can find more information on batteries and how to recycle them here.   

Posted in: Household tips, Reduce reuse and recycle

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Celebrate Our First President with a (Cherry) Tree

Posted on February 16, 2015 by | Comments Off

George Washington - Happy President's Day!In celebration of President’s day….Let’s grow some green! We all know the age old myth of our first President, George Washington, chopping down his father’s favorite cherry tree with a hatchet. This was, of course, before we knew the benefits that trees provide to us: trees clean the air, provide oxygen, help conserve energy, help prevent water pollution, they cool the streets and city, increase property values, and even provide food, to name just a few. In fact, February is the perfect month for planting fruit trees. The number one priority for any new tree is establishing a healthy root system. With cooler weather, there is less watering required, allowing the tree to become stable! In addition, cooler weather means less weeds. Before you start planting your backyard orchard however, we’d like you to keep a few tips in mind:

Nearly one-quarter of America’s tree canopy exists in our backyards, city streets and parks, making them essential to healthy communities. Take advantage of the upcoming planting season by doing something that is good for your home, good for your waterways, and ultimately good for your wallet! Whether it be a cherry tree like Mr. Washington, or an apple tree from your local garden store, trees are vital to maintaining a sustainable ecosystem!

Blog contributed by Alacia Nixson, Municipal Intern with City of Norfolk.

Posted in: Holidays, Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Outdoor tips

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Spring Plantings for Winter Color

Posted on February 13, 2015 by | Comments Off

How do I feel about my winter landscaping? Blah. Ugh. Yuck.

I was so excited to stumble across this old blog post the other day about native Chesapeake Bay plants that look beautiful in winter.  I have nothing planted to keep my yard looking good during winter. Spring, summer and fall – beautiful colors runth over! But winter? Ugh – the bottom drops out of my home’s curb appeal. Among the winter color recommendations from the Chesapeake Bay Program are witch hazel (pictured below), winter berry, bayberry, and sumac. These native plants not only provide winter color, but also require little or no maintenance to thrive in our region. This spring I’ll be on the lookout for these great options.

Witch Hazel in Snow
(Image courtesy hjsouthgate/Flickr)

I consider myself an amateur gardener – emphasis on the amateur. I’m slowly learning my lessons on what works (my blanket flower did awesome this year) and what doesn’t (bugs ate my hibiscus and it broke my heart).

I did a little extra digging of my own and found some other colorful options for improving my winter curb appeal. Among my favorite finds were eastern redbud trees, snow drops, camellias (gorgeous and pictured below), and bloodroot. While not winter blooming, there are also a few early bloomers that can kick start your landscape in late February and early March. Currently, my hyacinths, irises and daffodils are already popping up. Crocus and phlox would be great additions to these early bloomers. If you’re really desperate for winter color you can always go with the easy-to-find violets and pansies. These flowers are annuals and will not come back year after year.

Camellias in Snow
(Image courtesy megannnn/Flickr)

So this spring planting season, I’ll have winter on my mind! Are there other winter blooming plants I should add to this list? If so, let us know!







Posted in: Beautification, Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Outdoor tips

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