Posted on March 6, 2014 by Guest Contributor | Comments (0)
Upcycling is the process in which you take an item and use it for a different purpose. Instead of tossing items away, you can turn them into works of art or functional pieces for your home. What kinds of projects are available that the children can help you create? Here’s 4 simple examples of upcycling crafts to try with your kids:
- Egg Crate Planters – Start your own garden using empty egg crates. They make great planters for seedlings. You can also close the lid on some of these egg crates during the night in order to help prevent your feline friends from eating your seed sprouts.
- Wax Gifts - Instead of throwing broken crayons in the trash, you and the kids can make your own crayons for handing out during festive occasions. Add bits of broken crayons to silicone molds designed for cupcakes and melt them in a warm oven to create uniquely shaped crayons. Make crayon hearts to pass out at Valentine’s Day or clover shaped ones to hand out on St. Patrick’s Day. Since each crayon will be completely unique, depending on the colors you put into the molds, the coloring experiences of each individual child will be too.
- Tin Can Pencil and Pen Holders - Using old tin cans, your children can decorate their own pencil and pen holders for their desks or homework areas. You can paint on the can directly, wrap it in scraps of wrapping paper, old maps, or magazines or decorate it with items found in your junk drawer like beads, buttons or hair bows.
- Soda Bottle Greenhouses - By cutting the tops off of two-liter soda bottles, you and your children can make miniature greenhouses. Once the tops have been removed, place them upside down over small plants to create an individualized method to protect them and keep moisture localized.
The truth is you can upcycle just about anything. All it takes is a bit of imagination in order to turn one object into something decorative and/or useful. What can you upcycle around your home instead of throwing it away? You may just be surprised.
This guest post submitted by Michelle LaRowe, an award-winning nanny, agency director, and parenting author who is considered a leading industry expert. Find out more by visiting @eNannySource on Twitter.
Posted in: For educators, Going Green, Reduce reuse and recycle
Posted on March 3, 2014 by Guest Contributor | Comments (0)
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Credit: Virginia Beach City Photograph by Craig D. McClure
Keep America Beautiful (KAB) welcomed Virginia Beach to its expanding nationwide, community-based network of affiliates, Tuesday, February 25, in City Council Chambers. Susan Burkhardt, KAB Affiliate Marketing and Training Senior Director, addressed the Virginia Beach City Council to make the announcement. As part of the KAB network, Virginia Beach will have access to the latest knowledge, resources and strategies used nationwide to improve communities in measurable ways.
To gain affiliation, the City of Virginia Beach and the Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission (VBCCC) attended two trainings with Keep America Beautiful Trainer, John Deuel, who helped to establish the administrative components required for affiliation. In between these training sessions, the group worked diligently throughout the year to accomplish many other requirements for affiliation, including a Focus Area Survey and a Litter Index to assess the overall appearance of the city as well as community procedures and partners for litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling education and beautification and community greening.
Also in attendance Tuesday evening were Keeping Virginia Beach Beautiful Executive Director Linda Minner, Keep Virginia Beautiful Executive Director Mike Baum, Public Works Interim Director Phil Davenport, and Parks and Recreation Director Michael Kalvort. Also recognized at the certificate presentation were VBCCC Chair and Vice-Chair, Dan Baxter and Larry Banks, respectively, and Commissioners Nancy Degges, George Denice, Scott Kellam, Anne Mannarino, and Jennifer Powell.
The VBCCC will serve as the governing body of the Virginia Beach KAB affiliate. “We are proud to be providing our support to this KAB affiliation,” said Dan Baxter, VBCCC Chair. “We look forward to combining their brand recognition and tradition of excellence with our efforts in Keeping Virginia Beach Beautiful.”
Virginia Beach is the 8th askHRgreen partner from Hampton Roads to join the KAB network. The cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and York County are also affiliates of KAB. This strong network of KAB affiliates in Hampton Roads shows the dedication our region has to preserving the beauty and character of our region for years to come.
The entire askHRgreen team extends their heartfelt congratulations to the City of Virginia Beach and the VBCCC on their KAB affiliation!
Posted in: Beautification, Community events, Don't litter!
Posted on February 28, 2014 by Guest Contributor | Comments Off
What’s in a name? Suburban Acres, Suburban Park, and Glen Echo Shores were some of Norfolk’s first suburban neighborhoods. The words “acres,” “park” and “shores” in these names attest to the developers’ marketing of large lots in a lovely suburban setting. Trees were planted on lots that had been farmland, and now, over sixty years later, these neighborhoods are graced with some of the largest trees and prettiest yards in the City of Norfolk.
However, like many areas throughout Hampton Roads, large, historic trees are being removed by property owners. Tree removal is done for a variety of reasons – some people don’t like to rake leaves, others become scared their large trees may blow down in a storm. While numerous trees did come down during Hurricane Isabel in 2003, many were street trees that had poor root structure due to the surrounding asphalt and concrete or had never been pruned properly. Most healthy trees can stand up to high winds and actually serve as a wind screen to deflect winds up and over houses during storms.
Urban trees provide many benefits in addition to being good wind screens. Trees are the “green lungs” of our communities, helping to clean the air. Trees and shrubs reduce heating and cooling requirements by shading homes in the summer and deflecting cold winds in winter – cutting energy costs by up to 50 percent. Trees also reduce stormwater runoff and flooding by absorbing up to 30 percent of rain through their leaves and another 30 percent through their root systems. Landscaping, particularly with trees, can increase property values by 20 percent. Trees provide all these public services for free, while also providing habitat for birds and wildlife. In short, neighborhoods are better because of the trees!
Every now and then, a tree can be seen as a “problem.” But unless a tree is unhealthy, removing it should be the last option. A qualified tree arborist can provide recommendations on pruning and other actions to keep a tree healthy. Topping – cutting out the top – should never be done as this actually harms the tree. If raking leaves is the problem, then create a bed of azaleas or other shrubs around the trees for a good place for the leaves to fall. Fallen leaves will decompose and provide an organic, free source of fertilizing for your flower beds.
If you have concerns about a tree on your property, contact your local extension agent not the tree cutting company! An extension agent can help you identify and solve a variety of problems in your yard, including a problematic trees. If you can save a tree you will surely be doing yourself and your community a favor!
Blog post contributed by Karen Mayne. Karen is a biologist retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who resides in Norfolk and enjoys writing about environmental issues.
Posted in: Beautification, Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Outdoor tips, Waterways
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Posted on February 26, 2014 by Rebekah Eastep | Comments Off
March 3rd is Read Across America day in celebration of beloved writer, Dr. Seuss. Reading brings new worlds and ideas to people of all ages. And reading to children is the perfect way to help them understand sustainability and environmental stewardship – concepts that even us adults have a tough time understanding sometimes! And that’s exactly why organizations such as Keep Norfolk Beautiful have dedicated time and resources to initiatives like the Green Reader Program, which uses reading as a tool to help children understand the role they play in creating the type of world they will live in.
There are lots of great children’s books that focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship. Check out our recommendations on Pinterest! But in celebration of Dr. Seuss, and because it is my personal favorite, I’ll take a minute to highlight the wonderfulness that is The Lorax. In this sobering story, Dr. Seuss describes how the Once-ler and his Thneed making factory bring about the destruction of the Truffula forest and the disappearance of the Brown Bar-ba-loots. With the forest destroyed and the Brown Bar-ba-loots gone, the Lorax leaves behind only the word UNLESS. The moral of this story is that “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” We say that a lot at askHRgreen! Small choices can make big differences in protecting our environment.
And while Truffula forests and the Brown Bar-ba-loots are fictional, the Lorax Project is helping students and teachers connect fiction with real life struggles for survival across the world. Whether it’s in the forests of South America, Madagascar, China and Indonesia or the waterways that make up the Chesapeake Bay, our choices as consumers can harm our natural resources. And no matter if it is a gibbon or red panda living a world away or the oysters, crabs, and fish in our waters, it’s important to live in harmony with the other creatures that share our planet.
So take a moment and read with a child this March because as Dr. Seuss said, “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.”
Posted in: Community events, For educators
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Posted on February 25, 2014 by Rebekah Eastep | Comments Off
Deicing has been a hot topic lately. In the past, we’ve suggested some eco-friendly deicing products/techniques. But not everyone has been receptive to dumping beet juice or alfalfa meal onto their front steps! And not long ago reporters even suggested granular fertilizer as an alternative deicer during a rock salt shortage. Yikes – fertilizer is a big no-no for water pollution! So what are we eco-enthusiasts to do? Well, like everything we do at askHRgreen, we decided to make eco-friendly deicing super easy – no alfalfa meal or beet juice required!
Chemical Deicer: Which is Safest?
- Toxic to the Environment – If you remember nothing else, remember this: Granular fertilizer should NEVER be left on ANY hard surface. It is very harmful to our local waterways and if used as a deicer, as your snow and ice melt, the fertilizer heads straight to our waterways.
- Hazardous but Commonly Used – Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most commonly used deicer. It contains cyanide which can damage hard surfaces and can cause harm to your car, lawn, plants and pets.
- Better for the Environment – Calcium chloride is better than rock salt because it does not contain harmful cyanide – although it is still harmful to your surfaces, lawn and plants.
- Best for the Environment –
- Magnesium chloride is considered the least toxic deicing salt because it has no cyanide and less chloride, making it safer for surfaces, cars, and the environment.
- Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is considered the least toxic chemical deicer because it contains no chlorides or cyanide.
Chemical Deicer: How to Apply
- Read and follow the directions on your deicer. Applying more does not mean faster melting – just more water pollution!
- Apply the recommended amount of deicer before snow falls to prevent ice from forming.
- If snow and ice are already accumulated, remove the top layers with a shovel. Deicer works best on thin sheets of ice.
- Keep chemical deicers away from your lawn, plants and any area used by your pet.
- Use a single path to get safely in and out of your home and treat only the path you’ll walk.
Chemical-Free Deicing (No Beet Juice Necessary)
- Apply warm water mixed with table salt or water conditioning salt for small areas of thin ice.
- Use sand to improve traction on slippery areas.
- Before the storm, you can cover small areas such as your steps with heavy, waterproof plastic like a tarp. After the storm, remove the tarp and enjoy your dry steps and walkways.
Special thanks to the great resources of the Chesapeake Bay Program and their easy to use library of how-to’s and tips.
Posted in: Outdoor tips, Waterways
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