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Lights Out, Hampton Roads!

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

EarthHour15This Saturday, March 28th the world will go lights out for the 9th annual Earth Hour. Earth Hour challenges everyone across the world to shut off their lights for just one hour at 8:30 pm local time. This black out shows support for sustainable solutions to climate change and other environmental problems – whether of local, national or worldwide importance.

Just think, this simple act can connect you to a network of people in 7,000 cities across 154 countries around the world. Even some of the world’s greatest attractions go lights out for Earth Hour – over 3,300 to be exact.  Some famous landmarks that have gone lights out for sustainability include the Las Vegas Strip, Times Square, the Sydney Opera House, Buckingham Palace, and the Eiffel Tower. Locally, many Virginia Beach attractions will also go dark this Saturday including the city seal at Mount Trashmore, the Virginia Aquarium, and Westin Tower to name a few.

While Earth Hour takes just one hour to complete, participation is meant to be a symbolic commitment, from both individuals and organizations, to go green and reduce their impact on the Earth. And when it comes to easy, eco-friendly advice – askHRgreen.org has you covered from your home, to your office and from your yard to your children’s school.

Join askHRgreen.org in dedicating just one hour of your Saturday night to this worthwhile blackout. Turn out the lights and have some fun – try a romantic candle lit dinner for two, s’mores with your neighbors, stargazing from your lawn or just kick back and read a book while you make your quiet commitment to a cleaner, greener world.

Earth Hour is an initiative of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), one of the world’s largest conservation organizations.

Posted in: Community events

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Why Local Fish Kills May Be Your Fault

Posted on March 25, 2015 by | Comments (0)

dead_fish[1]There have been several fish kills in the area recently.  And they may be your fault.

It’s not fun to think that what you do on your own lawn may negatively affect the health and wellbeing of hundreds of animals in our region, not to mention the health of our local waterways.  But it’s true for both waterfront homes and homes that are miles and miles away from the nearest waterway.  The good news is – there’s an easy solution.

Fish kills usually happen because of a drop in dissolved oxygen in the water which we can often trace back to too much fertilizer.  When we use too much fertilizer on our lawns or accidentally sprinkle some on driveways and sidewalks, that excess gets collected in the stormwater after it rains.  The stormwater carries the fertilizer into storm drains and ditches and then directly to ponds, rivers, bays and the ocean.  Just as you expect the fertilizer to make your grass grow, once that fertilizer makes its way to ponds and rivers, it makes algae grow.  You may have seen a green, slimy layer on top of a pond before – that’s algae.  This algae does several detrimental things to the water.  It blocks out sunlight which kills off underwater plants, meaning less oxygen is being released into the water and also there are fewer food sources for fish.  The algae also consume oxygen as they die and decompose. 

So how can you make sure you’re not part of the problem?

  • Test Your Soil:  Your yard may not need the fertilizer you’re using.  Different yards require different amounts and different types of nutrients.  Testing your soil first will tell you exactly what you need to bring your soil into perfect balance.  Most localities will provide you with a soil test kit if you ask.  Contact your Cooperative Extension or your locality’s Stormwater Division. 
  • Follow Directions Carefully: Once you’ve discovered what your lawn needs, be sure to follow directions for fertilizer application rates.  Again, the Cooperative Extension is a great resource for you (check out this page on their website). 
  • Do Not Fertilize the Driveway: If you accidentally sprinkle fertilizer on the driveway or sidewalk, sweep it back into your lawn.  Otherwise, it’s just the same as dumping that fertilizer directly into our waterways.  Plus, it’s a waste of money!
  • Choose Natural Fertilizers Instead:  This one is great for anyone who wants to save money and time.  Instead of putting down chemical fertilizers, just mulch your grass clippings!  When you mow, remove the bag collector from your mower and just let those clippings fly.  Go over them with the mower a few times to get them very small.  They will release water and nutrients as they break down to naturally fertilize your lawn.  Just be sure you don’t leave those excess clippings on your driveway, sidewalk or piled loosely in the street or ditch because they will then contribute to those algae blooms we’ve been talking about.

We are all connected to our waterways.  Be part of the pollution solution!

Posted in: Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Waterways

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Compost Sale at Newport News Recovery Operations Center

Posted on March 24, 2015 by | Comments (2)

Apply compost for a healthy lawnWhile supplies last, the Newport News Recovery Operations Center is offering their Nationally Certified Compost product at significant discount. The Compost Product offered is certified by the US Compost Council, Virginia Tech and Penn State Universities. The product is an excellent soil amendment that breaks up clay soil and is excellent for gardens and new plantings. Compost and Mulch products are available to the general public and businesses. Normally priced at $22.00 per yard (Tax Included), the sale price for compost is $12.00 per yard (Tax Included). There are also additional discounts on bulk compost purchases as listed below:

 

Price Per

Sales

Total Per

Amount

Cubic Yard

Tax

Cubic Yard

1 – 5 Cubic Yards

$ 11.32

     $0.68

$ 12.00

6 – 20 Cubic Yards

$ 7.55

$ 0.45

$ 8.00

More than 20 cubic yards

$ 3.77

$  0.23

$  4.00

Mulch is also available at $13.00 per Yard (Tax Included).

Products and pricing open to the public and businesses – there are no residency requirements.

The Newport News Recovery Operations Center, located at 530 Atkinson Way,  is open from 8 AM to 4 PM Monday through Saturday. For more information, please contact the facility at 757-886 7947

Blog submitted by Daniel A. Baxter, Business Recycling Coordinator, NIMS Public Works Blue Team Coordinator, City of Newport News.

 

                                                                          

Posted in: Beautification, Community events

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The Secret Life of Storm Water Ponds

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PondStormwater ponds come in many shapes and sizes, but their job is always the same, to control water runoff and filter pollutants. Aside from their visual attractiveness, these ponds are really hard at work regulating water quality within our region. Normal day-to-day activities contribute to water quality pollution, such as excessive fertilizer, automotive chemicals, pet waste, leaves, debris and other litter. Both vast and elegant, these ponds were created to not only reduce such pollutants from entering the natural waterway, but also reduce flooding. 

 Here’s how it works…

  • The manmade pond is a permanent pool of water in which stormwater runoff is directed.
  • Runoff from each rain event is stored in the pond to reduce flow and allow trash, dirt and other debris to settle out.
  • Buffer vegetation along the banks of the ponds remove unwanted nutrients and capture trash prior to it entering the waterway.
  • The aquatic plants that emerge help facilitate the natural physical, biological, and chemical processes needed to remove pollutants from the waterway.
  • Some ponds may have aerators; these structures are not decorative fountains.  Aerators are used to increase oxygen levels and circulate water throughout the lake, thereby stimulating natural processes to improve water quality.

 

Who knew such a pretty pond had such a secret life and practical purpose!? 

Posted in: Waterways

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How Green Are You?

Posted on March 19, 2015 by | Comments Off

popquizIf you are reading this you probably care about an easy-on-the-environment lifestyle. But when it comes to being green in Hampton Roads, are you doing the right things? This quick and easy checklist will reveal your eco-friendly status. Ready? Let’s go!

Give yourself 1 point for each way you help protect the environment in Hampton Roads.

  1. I never use my garbage disposal.
  2. I only flush the 3 P’s down the toilet – pee, poop and paper.
  3. When I finish my meals, I scrape leftovers into the trash or compost, never into the sink.
  4. I keep my curb and storm drains clear of litter, leaves and grass clippings.
  5. My lawn will not be treated with chemical fertilizers or pesticides this year.
  6. I have planted a plant in my yard (or community) in the past year.
  7. I donate my unwanted items and frequently shop at secondhand stores.
  8. I always bring reusable bags to the grocery store or recycle the paper or plastic bags I get from the store.
  9. I use reusable plates, silverware and cups for most of my meals/beverages.
  10. I shut off the faucet while brushing my teeth, washing my hands or cleaning dishes.
  11. I rarely drink bottled water and prefer tap water in a refillable bottle.
  12. I educate my friends, family and coworkers about the activities listed above.

Now for the moment of truth…let’s see how you did!

askHRgreen Super Star (9-12 points) Congratulations! You are a low-waste, growing green, infrastructure protecting, super star! You are doing most (or all) of the eco-friendly activities that help keep Hampton Roads a beautiful place to live, work and play. We say – Thank You!

Half Way There (5-8 points) – You’re pretty green, but we know you can do better. Whether you need work on protecting our pipes from clogs, greening your lawn care routine or conserving water and other resources, askHRgreen.org has you covered. Try implementing some of the items you missed and you’ll find yourself a super star in no time!

Just Getting Started (0-4 points) – We are so glad you are here! While it may seem overwhelming to incorporate all 12 of the above behaviors into your daily routine, it’s important to remember that small changes really do add up. So pick a couple items from the list above and go for it. When you’ve got that under control, come back to askHRgreen.org to learn more!

Posted in: Going Green

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