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Plant Native Plants This Fall

Posted on September 3, 2015 by | Comments (0)

Courtesy of Lynnhaven River Now

Purple Love Grass
Photo Credit: Lynnhaven River Now

I was so excited to swing by the Brock Environmental Center last week to pick up my native purple love grass which I ordered from Lynnhaven River Now. They have a great initiative to feature a different native plant each month. You see, many plant growers would love to produce more native plants but there must also be customers interested in buying them! Lynnhaven River Now’s initiative tries to fill that gap. I’m a bit of a newbie to the native plant world myself, but I think my two new purple love grass plants will fit right in with my rising collection of natives including my beautyberry, silky dogwood, spiderwort, beardtongue, coneflower and coreopsis (just to name a few…)

So what is a native plant? Sounds like a bunch of jargon, I know. But native plants are a real thing and provide almost limitless benefits to our communities.  A native plant is one that is naturally adapted to thrive in our region. And because they have adapted to our climate over time, they require very little maintenance. When planted in the right spot for their needs, these plants require no extra watering, no chemical fertilizer and virtually no chemical pesticides. For the gardener or homeowner, this means less yard work and less money spent on yard chemicals and outdoor watering. For the environment, it means cleaner waterways and increased wildlife habitat – especially for pollinators like butterflies and bees. Native plants are often a source of food or habitat for a variety of animals and insects, many of which have seen sharp declines with the disappearance of their food or habitat source.

Coreopsis

Coreopsis

 

And let’s not forget that native plants are BEAUTIFUL! There’s a common misconception that native plants aren’t as pretty as non-native varieties that you find frequently at the big box garden store. But I guarantee that there is an equally beautiful and lower maintenance equivalent for almost any non-native plant that you love.

So now that you know what’s good to know about native plants, take the next step! There are lots of opportunities this month to pick up your very own native plants. Check out some of these upcoming events or learn more about Hampton Roads’ native plants.

Buy a Native Plant!

 Easy Ways to Learn More

Posted in: Beautification, Community events, Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Outdoor tips

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Annual Virginia Waterway Cleanup Season Starts Today

Posted on September 1, 2015 by | Comments (0)

Seatack: Students from Seatack Elementary School collect data and litter off Croatan beach in Virginia Beach.

Students from Seatack Elementary School collect data and litter off Croatan beach in Virginia Beach.

Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University is preparing for its 21st Annual Virginia Waterways Cleanup (part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup), one of the largest volunteer events in Virginia. The Cleanups will take place during September and October with a large number of events being held on the official “International Coastal Cleanup Day,” Saturday, September 19, 2015.

In 2014, 8,032 volunteers picked up more than 263,000 pounds of trash and recyclable materials in Virginia as part of this statewide event. In the 20 years that Clean Virginia Waterways has been organizing the Virginia Waterways Cleanup, more than 84,000 volunteers have removed close to 3.7 million pounds of trash from our rivers and beaches. The single most prevalent item found is cigarette butts, generally accounting for about 15 percent of the total number of debris items found. Plastic debris, especially convenience food items (bottles, cans, food wrappers, straws, etc.), make up between 60 – 80 percent of all that litter, and close to 80 percent of all debris originates from land-based sources.

Data is collected for a snapshot view of common marine debris items reported around the world. This is Virginia’s top 10 list.

Here are some highlights from previous years:

  • In 2014, 236 volunteers in Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge reported 904 balloons in a single cleanup.
  • In 2014, Virginia Beach Chapter of Surfrider Foundation did a cigarette butt targeted cleanup of 8 blocks of Atlantic Avenue. They documented 3,791 cigarette butts in this brief distance.
  • In 2011, more than 7,600 tires were removed from a tributary to the James River, putting tires in the Top 10 list for Virginia that year.

FINWR: Volunteer Site Captains conduct a cleanup on Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge. Cleanups can be public or private.

Volunteer Site Captains conduct a cleanup on Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge. Cleanups can be public or private.

There are many events planned throughout Hampton Roads this year and we are hoping to add many more. Want to get involved? If you would like to volunteer your time and participate in one of these events, please visit the Clean Virginia Waterways website often to see which cleanups have been added. We have a Facebook event page to keep you up to date – please join this invite and invite your friends to join too! You will also be able to find cleanup info on the askHRGreen.org event calendar.

We are also looking for new groups, businesses, schools and individuals to organize additional cleanups. As a Site Captain, you will get support and supplies from Clean Virginia Waterways including trash bags, posters, gloves, pencils and data cards. We will post your cleanup on our website and social media sites to help you grow your volunteer group. Site Captains get a really cool t-shirt too! This is a great way to get out and support your community.

Please help us make this year’s Virginia Waterways Cleanup the biggest year ever. For more information or to sign up, visit http://www.longwood.edu/cleanva/VolunteerForCleanup.html or email us at cleanvirginiawaterways@gmail.com.

This post contributed by Christina Trapani with Clean Virginia Waterways and Longwood University.

balloons: Balloons are a common item found on Virginia’s beaches. Balloon litter from your cleanup can be reported to www.VirginiaBalloonStudy.org.

Balloons are a common item found on Virginia’s beaches. Balloon litter from your cleanup can be reported to www.VirginiaBalloonStudy.org.

 

surfandadventure: Businesses are encouraged to hold a Virginia Waterways Cleanup. It’s a great way to engage staff and customers and give back to communities.

Businesses are encouraged to hold a Virginia Waterways Cleanup. It’s a great way to engage staff and customers and give back to communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in: Beautification, Community events, Don't litter!, Service Learning, Waterways

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What’s the Most Energy-Efficient Refrigerator Model?

Posted on August 12, 2015 by | Comments Off

Energy Star, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s voluntary program aimed at helping individuals and businesses make good decisions about energy use says, “When you are buying a refrigerator, there are really two price tags. The initial purchase price can be thought of as the down payment. You’ll be paying the second price tag on your monthly utility bill for about 15 years.”

If you’re in the market for a refrigerator, the EPA wants you to know that generally speaking, now is a good time to replace an aging model. Refrigerators manufactured today are considerably more energy efficient than those made 10 years ago, thanks to improved insulation and more efficient compressor technology. You may also qualify for help in upgrading an aging fridge. A new program from Dominion Virginia Power offers a $50 rebate for recycling an old refrigerator through the appliance recycling rebate program.

EPA also wants refrigerator shoppers to know that in some cases, when you make a bigger “down payment,” if some of the money is going toward a state-of-the-art compressor, upgraded insulation, more durable seals and a “low-energy” setting, you may be taking a significant step toward reducing your utility bills. But there’s a catch: if part of your purchase price is going toward a through-the-door ice and water dispenser ($75 to $250), an automatic defrost system or an anti-sweat heater, the energy savings may simply balance out the extra energy requirements of these accessories.

fridge energy starThe door configuration and position of the freezer, with respect to the refrigerator compartment, also have significant impacts on the cost of operating a refrigerator for the duration of its service life. According to Energy Star, the most efficient refrigerators are those with a top freezer and no through-the-door ice-and-water dispenser. Most of the popular refrigerator configurations are ranked below.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, refrigerators account for almost 14% of the typical home energy bill. But the most efficient refrigerators use about 25% less electricity than the least efficient, which can add up to big savings.

The maximum amount of energy that specific appliances may use is actually regulated by law under the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, first enacted in 1987. If your interests lie in shopping for a more energy-efficient fridge, start looking among those that bear a yellow Energy Star label. To qualify for an Energy Star label, a refrigerator must consume at least 20% less energy than the maximum allowed by law. The label provides estimates of the annual electricity use and operating cost for that particular refrigerator and enables you to compare it to similar models. There are many factors beyond size—configuration chief among them—that play into how much energy a refrigerator consumes.

Michael Chotiner is a DIY expert with many years of general contractor experience related to kitchens, appliances and energy usage. Michael writes about home energy topics for The Home Depot.  

Posted in: Energy Saving & Cooling, Going Green, Household tips

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No Butts About It……Virginia Beach Working to Reduce Cigarette Litter

Posted on August 6, 2015 by | Comments Off

8.5x11_whaleThe City of Virginia Beach is excited to participate in two Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) grants in an effort to reduce cigarette litter at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Lake Smith/Lake Lawson Natural Area.

VB 1st streetClean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University (CVW) is spearheading the Virginia Beach Oceanfront initiative. CVW’s program involves working with various partners at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. This project targets visitors to the resort area and is the first CLPP of its kind!

With the help of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association (VBHA) and Virginia Green, CVW partnered with 12 resort hotels and supplied each of them with a cigarette receptacle, pocket ashtrays and program signage for their guests. We also worked with the City of Virginia Beach Resort Management office to place five receptacles on the boardwalk between 20th and 24th Streets. Finally, through collaboration with the VBHA, Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) G.R.E.E.N. Committee, we created graphics consistent with the committee’s Clean Beaches Program. 

Throughout the project, volunteers from Surfrider Foundation’s Virginia Beach Chapter and the Navy’s Norfolk Fleet Readiness Center have conducted six litter scans at four sites along the oceanfront, including small areas along the beach, boardwalk and beach access areas. To date, volunteers have counted and removed more than 12,000 butts from the sites.

VB 20th streetOnce the project is complete, we hope the Clean Beaches Program will continue keeping our beaches Beachy Clean!  Keep track of our project on the CLPP Virginia Beach Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CigaretteLitterPreventionVB.

Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation is also participating in a CLPP grant coordinated through askHRGreen.org at Lake Smith/Lake Lawson Natural Area. This 42-area preserve has more than 12,000 feet of shoreline and, while the City of Virginia Beach owns the property, the water/reservoir is owned by the City of Norfolk.

After being closed for approximately one year, this popular fishing destination reopened in October 2014 after a major renovation. The improvements include a new boat ramp, car and boat trailer parking, several fishing and overlook platforms, a pedestrian bridge, trail renovations, a large shelter, a new playground and a new restroom facility.

VB 20150803_152512_resizedVB 20150803_152733_resizedAs a part of the grant initiative, five cigarette litter receptacles have been placed throughout the property to encourage proper disposal of cigarette litter. Our goal is to provide disposal resources, educate citizens and encourage our patrons to assist us with litter prevention. This is the first time Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation has participated in the CLPP.

On Saturday, August 8 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. staff and volunteers will be at Lake Smith/Lake Lawson to educate patrons on the program. Patrons will learn about the new receptacle locations, receive educational material and free portable pocket and auto ash trays.

In addition, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Lake Smith/Lake Lawson Natural Areas CLPP are a part of Terracycle’s Cigarette Waste Brigade. The cigarette waste collected is recycled into a variety of industrial products such as plastic pallets, and remaining waste is recycled as compost.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in America.  We encourage everyone to dispose of cigarettes butts and other litter in their proper receptacles and to do their part in Keeping Virginia Beach Beautiful!

Submitted by Amy Woodson, Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation and Christina Trapani, Eco Maniac Company    

Posted in: Beautification, Cigarette Litter, Cigarette Litter, Don't litter!, Golf Tournament

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What did you do with your kids this weekend?

Posted on August 3, 2015 by | Comments Off

 Team re-StorSo, what did you do with your children/grandchildren this weekend? Rhetorical question? Maybe…

After hearing about a horrible act of vandalism in a neighboring community, I contacted a local community leader and offered some resources we have to help with the cleanup and restoration of the two residences impacted. In four days, event coordinators got resources donated from the local Home Depot at Princess Anne and Lynnhaven Parkway in Virginia Beach. I worked with them to secure resources and equipment from the Virginia Beach Clean Community Helping Hands Program to assist in the effort. I shared with Pieri Burton and James Cohen, the event coordinators, and Steve Batton, local radio host, our experiences with large groups of volunteers at events and helped them determine what logistical support they needed.

Community Reestoration Project 4

Chloe McGough, a student at Deer Park Elementary School in Newport News, helps a team installing a new fence at the Community Restoration Project in Virginia Beach.

The event was scheduled for Saturday, July 18th from 10 AM – 2 PM. The evening before, I shared with our granddaughters Chloe, age 8 and Claire, Age 3 ½ that I would be helping with supplies and other things for the effort. They both have volunteered for me in the past and I was impressed when they offered to help. They both got up early in the morning, got breakfast and dressed and helped me load equipment into our truck for the event. From the TV and radio coverage, there was a possibility for a large turn out. Even Home Depot gathered associates to volunteer for the project. What a benefit, they were able to call the store directly and have supplies waiting.

Community restoration Porject 3Indeed there was a large turnout. Our team took assessment of the needs and unloaded the first truck of donated supplies from Home Depot. I took a young man with me to get more equipment from the Virginia Beach Clean Community storage facility after we had a better idea of what was needed. Our girls got to work quickly, cleaning graffiti, moving branches, clearing rocks and helping with gardening. They were the subject of several video pieces in three pieces of local news coverage. What continued for over five hours was, in a word, amazing. Chloe and Claire worked tirelessly alongside adults who were so impressed with them and watched over them.

Since we had an appointment for them in the afternoon and it took over 30 minutes to get them into the truck. Each one had, “just something more to do Grandpa”.

Community restoration 1

Claire and Chloe McGough help unload and place gardening fabric in new flower beds

The final result was impressive, houses cleaned, over 100 feet of fencing replaced, doors replaced, gates built, decks washed and no less than three flowerbeds planted. Over 100 people came out with 65 registering to do this selfless act of love and community. People from all walks of life and from 3 to 70 years old came out…

 

Our girls were jazzed and tired, but inspired to help and do more. So, what did you do with your kids this weekend?  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S73_HRDTjaI

Guest blog submitted by Dan Baxter, Chairman Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission and Business Recycling Coordinator City of Newport News   

Posted in: Beautification, Community events

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