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The 2017 Great American Cleanup is Underway!

Posted on March 2, 2017 by | Comments Off

GAC2016Hampton Roads volunteers will be out in full force working across the region to pick up roadside litter, clean up beaches and shorelines, improve community parks and more. The 2017 Great American Cleanup™ is underway, now through June, and residents can find a list of planned community projects, or find out how to start their own, by checking out this regional list of happenings.

Cared for communities tend to be safe, desirable places with great curb appeal. But participating in a Great American Cleanup event is about so much more than protecting neighborhood property values. It’s also important for protecting our region’s rich natural resources, booming tourism industry and overall quality of life. 

LMinner-GAC_2016_2Spearheaded by Keep America Beautiful, the Great American Cleanup is the country’s largest community improvement program. Litter cleanups and recycling events typically top the list of activities led by local Keep America Beautiful affiliates, but there’s also a focus on individual neighborhoods. The “Clean Your Block” theme promotes not only clean communities, but also community engagement, pride and stewardship – behaviors that lead to lasting, positive block-by-block impacts nationwide. Citizens are encouraged to organize a beautification or cleanup project in their neighborhood and celebrate their hard work with a block party once that project is completed. It’s a great way to see neighbors, meet new friends and understand how we’re all connected to the region.

FINWR: Volunteer Site Captains conduct a cleanup on Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge. Cleanups can be public or private. And while neighbors are bonding and strengthening their sense of community pride, the region’s natural resources are gaining the long-term benefits of cleaner communities. In 2016, nearly 4,500 volunteers across five cities and counties recovered over 100 tons of trash from over 400 sites. And that’s just a fraction of the real impact when the work done by all 17 cities and counties is taken into consideration.  

Organizing a clean up or beautification event for your business, office or neighborhood is the perfect way to create safer, more beautiful spaces for both man and animal. Get involved and learn how to organize your own “Clean Your Block” project for the Great American Cleanup!

Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful

Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful

Volunteers cleanup in Ocean View Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful






















Posted in: Beautification, Community events, Don't litter!, Reduce reuse and recycle

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5 Ways to a Greener Holiday Season

Posted on November 30, 2016 by | Comments Off

christmas-734866_960_720For many Americans reducing, reusing, and recycling is as far from their thoughts as starting a holiday diet. With very little effort and a few tips you can trim down your holiday waste.

  1. Reusable Bags - Don’t have one of those fancy store bought totes? No worries! Grab any reusable bag, even that beach tote you retired for the winter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. So as you can see, any bag is better than a plastic bag!
  2. Recycle While You Cook - Make food prep a snap by keeping a recycling bin nearby. Recycling while you cook is easier than you think. Tin and steel cans, clean aluminum foil and pie pans, glass bottles and jars, cardboard, clean mixed paper and in some cities you can now recycle cartons too. Not sure what is accepted? Check out your city’s waste management website.
  3. Dust Off the Fine China - Pull out grandma’s china and linens and treat your guest to a holiday meal that they will remember. Using what you have or even borrowing items eliminates disposable plates, drinkware, utensils, and napkins from going into the landfill.
  4. Grab a Growler - It’s no secret that Hampton Roads has amazing breweries as well as growler filling stations available. Opting for growlers over bottles and cans will aid you in your quest to be greener this holiday. Growlers reduce the need to buy cans and bottles and can be repurposed to hold other refreshments such as water and sweet tea.
  5. BYOC - Inviting guests? Have plans to be a guest? BYOC, otherwise known as “Bring Your Own Container”, to reduce your carbon footprint and be more eco-friendly by preventing the use of plastic storage containers, plastic wrap, and other single use plastics this holiday season.

With a little pre-planning and consideration for doing the right thing you can make small changes that produce big results.

Guest blog contributed by Kristi Rines, Recycling Coordinator for the City of Virginia Beach.

Posted in: Beautification, Going Green, Holidays, Household tips, Reduce reuse and recycle

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Virginia Recycling Association Recognizes Newport News Recovery Operations Center

Posted on November 8, 2016 by | Comments Off

2016 Award winners groupThe Virginia Recycling Association (VRA) has awarded the Newport News Recovery Operations Center (ROC) with their annual Outstanding Government Agency Award.  This award recognizes a state or federal government agency, institution or non-profit organization that has developed and implemented a sustainable waste reduction and prevention program to include reuse, recycling and buying recycled products.

The purpose of the ROC is to capture unwanted material and recover, re-direct, beneficiate or dispose of the material in the most effective manner possible. The VRA award recognizes the center for the variety of services provided including recycling drop off, household hazardous waste and electronic waste collection, metal and appliance collection, and collection of leaves and woody material from which mulch and compost is produced for sale.  Additionally methane gas produced by the old Denbigh landfill is provided to the Denbigh Community Center and to Mary Passage Middle School as a fuel for their boilers.  The ROC also coordinates with schools and civic groups across Hampton Roads to provide recycling and environmental awareness education.

Click here to learn more about the services offered by the Newport News Recovery Operations Center.

This is a guest post by Dan Baxter, Business Recycling Coordinator, with the City of Newport News Public Works, Solid Waste Resource Recovery Unit.

Posted in: Beautification, Reduce reuse and recycle, Uncategorized

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Trash or Treat?

Posted on October 28, 2016 by | Comments Off

halloween-candy-1014629_960_720Every year we have a big Halloween party at our house. We really get into the spirit covering our home in spooky decorations right down to the animated creatures. We have carloads of trick-or-treaters come by the house and enjoy taking our own daughter door-to-door to collect tasty treats. Halloween is such a simple, yet magical holiday.

But the day after Halloween is when things really get scary…

When I wake up on November 1st I feel like I’ve been transported to the Twilight Zone! I look out my window to find candy wrappers littering the sidewalks and streets of my normally tidy neighborhood. It’s a hard truth to admit, but admit it we must: 

Our kids are litter bugs.

Yep, I said it. Those darling pumpkins, spooky monsters and sweet storybook characters are responsible for this post-Halloween litter fest. I totally understand the need to power up with a miniature Snickers bar so that you can make it down just one more street. Who doesn’t sample their treasures before they get home? But what’s not cool is letting that little candy wrapper flutter out of your hands and onto the ground. Sure it’s dark and crowded, no one will ever know it was you. And it’s just a tiny thing, surely it won’t matter, right? Wrong! Come morning, the neighborhoods everywhere will be trashy and that’s not a good look, Hampton Roads!

So before your little tykes head out for a night of screeching scares and tasty treats, please have “the talk” with them. Let them know that a candy wrapper does not magically disappear when dropped on the ground. In fact, it could take up to FIVE YEARS for a plastic-coated paper wrapper to decompose. Littered candy wrappers will be washed into a storm drain and out into our local waterways. The fish, crabs and wildlife really don’t appreciate our misplaced trash.

Here are a few tips for a litter-free Halloween:

  • Consider wrapper-free treats. Gone are the days when you could hand out homemade goodies, but you’d be surprised how excited kids can be over non-candy treats like bracelets, stickers or vampire fangs.
  • Give a helpful reminder. Help your child and his crew make the right choice by reminding them that trash on the ground means trash in our waterways for up to 5 years.
  • Give some specific directions. Tell your child to put candy wrappers in his pocket, back into the candy bucket or in a neighborhood trash can.
  • Hold a post-Halloween cleanup. Make another trip around the neighborhood with your little ones when dawn breaks to collect littered candy wrappers. Make a game out of it and see who can find the most! 

A very Happy (but not trashy) Halloween to you all!

Posted in: Beautification, Don't litter!, Holidays, Household tips

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Volunteers Make Helping Hands Cleanup a Success

Posted on July 21, 2016 by | Comments Off

Helping HandsThe Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission (VBCCC), with support from the City of Virginia Beach Public Works Waste Management, completed its third Helping Hands project of the season on Saturday, June 11. The Helping Hands Program freely provides one-time assistance to residents who are physically and financially unable to perform outside yard maintenance themselves.

VBCCC Chair (and team member) Dan Baxter and Vice-Chair Larry Banks worked with 50 volunteers including numerous military groups on the yard beautification. They mowed the lawn, trimmed branches, and removed yard debris and miscellaneous items for a resident in need. Even the Virginia Beach police officer who nominated the resident for Helping Hands brought out his family to help with the cleanup efforts. This incredible outpouring of community volunteers transformed the yard in just three hours. They filled a large yard debris container and over 70 bags of yard waste. This effort also amassed an impressive pile of bulky items for pick up.

Each year, volunteer groups are needed to assist with Helping Hands projects during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Talent or experience in landscaping or gardening is not required but appreciated. Most of these projects require a time commitment of less than four hours and can typically be done on a Saturday morning. If interested in lending a hand and helping a neighbor, call 385-3855 or visit

Blog contributed by Craig Simmons, Recycling Administrative Technician for the City of Virginia Beach.


Posted in: Beautification, Community events

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