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What makes your community beautiful?

Posted on August 29, 2014 by | Comments (0)

PUCU1In the spring of 2014, with support from my wife Sallie, I bicycled 3,269 miles from San Diego to Virginia Beach. Along the way, I experienced our country’s amazing natural beauty and history. I also learned what people personally believe make their community beautiful.  I made . . . connections.

It was great to be back in Hampton Roads on June 28th after 69 days of cycling about 55 miles per day, from San Diego to Virginia Beach through our very beautiful and often hilly country.  For more about the ride check out the blog I kept.

There was so much about this experience that was interesting to me- whether it was meeting the physical and mental challenges of the ride, exploring new places, talking with people from America’s heartland, taking in the natural beauty, or learning about the history of how simple places became the foundation of our country.PUCU2

We introduced ourselves by having our support vehicle, a Toyota Highlander, wrapped with our message of bike safety and cleaner communities. At some point in our conversations with those that we met, I asked the question, “What makes your community beautiful?” I heard many different responses from the 69 people I spoke with. One thing they all had in common: they cared about their communities and what they said gave me a clue as to why. Here are some of the responses I received:

“I can go into town and someone will always know me there” — Anthony, Mountain Grove, Missouri

“Our public library.”  – Hugh, Chanute, Kansas

 PUCU3Personal connections lead us to cleaner, greener, more vibrant communities.

How do YOU connect to your community in Hampton Roads?

Next time: What is a “Pedal Up to Cleanup” and how did it work in Hampton Roads and in selected locations along our route?
















Posted in: Beautification, Don't litter!

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Be a Good Mate and Keep Our Waterways Ship Shape!

Posted on August 13, 2014 by | Comments Off

Smithfield Station in Isle of Wight - A Virginia Clean MarinaIf you’re a boater in Hampton Roads, you probably don’t need to be told that our waterways are a valuable resource. And you probably already know that it is important to have a thriving population of fish and crabs. And you definitely understand that the Chesapeake Bay is stunning and beautiful and worth protecting…

But what you might not realize is that by default boaters are the voice of clean water! Yep, the Salt Life sticker on the back of your truck or the Bass Pro Shop hat on your head tells the world “I support clean waterways!” Surprised? Don’t be! You know how important clean water is! It’s likely that you’ve seen the impacts of water pollution firsthand. So now that you know you have a hand to play in clean waterways, what are you and all your boat-loving friends going to do about it? We’ll make it easy for you. Just follow these good to do tips and share them with a friend!

  • Butts on Board – The most common type of litter found in waterways? Cigarettes butts! Don’t throw these little bits overboard – they add up to a big mess that takes years to decompose.
  • Secure Your Trash – Don’t let fishing line, drink bottles/cans, or wrappers from your snacks get lost in the ocean breeze. Bring along two containers with sealable lids for collecting trash and recyclables.
  • Keeping it Clean – When your boat is in dry-dock, give it a good scrub on a ‘natural’ surface like grass, gravel or dirt. The natural surface will soak up the dirty water instead of sending it into waterways through the storm drains. Opt for cleaning with plain water or, if needed, a phosphate-free, biodegradable and non-toxic cleaner when your boat is in the water.
  • Oil and Water Don’t Mix – Keep toxic chemicals out of the water. That means preventing oil, gas, and antifreeze from spilling into waterways. Preventative maintenance is key!
  • Respect No Discharge Zones No discharge zones are areas where boaters cannot empty their onboard toilet tanks (aka marine sanitation device) into waterways due to risks to human health, potential damage to aquatic habitats or existing water quality concerns. Locally the Lynnhaven River is a no discharge zone as is the Piankatank River slightly to our north in Middlesex County. The best disposal option is to use a marina pump station to empty waste.
  • Heed the No Wake Signs – That No Wake sign might indicate that you’re in an environmentally sensitive area. Wake can cause erosion along shorelines which reduces the natural barrier that filters polluted stormwater created by the landlubbers and their impervious structures.
  • Choose Clean Marinas – The Virginia Clean Marina Program promotes the voluntary use of pollution reduction strategies by marinas, boatyards and boaters. Find a Clean Marina near you and give them your business whenever you can. Better yet? Talk with your regular marina about becoming a member!

For more ways you can be a waterway-friendly boater, visit Virginia Clean Marina online. And don’t forget there’s also plenty of ways to keep waterways clean from the shore!

Posted in: Don't litter!, Outdoor tips, Waterways

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Bacteria at the Beach

Posted on June 30, 2014 by | Comments Off

at-the-beach-1445396-1-mThe results are in! Did your favorite beach come out on top? The National Resources Defense Council just released their 24th annual “Testing the Waters” report.  This report presents water quality at beaches along the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.  Thankfully, some of our Virginia and North Carolina beaches are shining stars for water quality.  But that’s not always the case. 

Have you ever heard about a section of beach being closed off due to high bacteria levels? It happens, even here in beautiful Hampton Roads. High bacteria in our waterways can be attributed to stormwater pollution (like dog poop left on the ground!) and untreated sewage spills and overflows. If you swim in water that has high bacteria levels you could get the stomach flu, pink eye, dysentery, hepatitis or other serious medical problems. Major gross out! 

So how can we make sure our local waterways stay healthy? askHRGreen is full of tips! Even if you don’t live on the water, your actions still directly affect the health of our waterways. So here are a few tips to keep you from being part of the problem:

  • Scoop the Poop: Never leave dog waste on the ground, even in your own back yard.  Scoop it, bag it, trash it!
  • Plant More Plants:  It’s better to have more plants than hard surfaces in your yard to allow stormwater to be absorbed and filtered into the ground.  Plants have a great way of removing pollutants from water before it reaches our waterways
  • Keep Fats, Oils, & Grease Out of the Drain: When poured down the drain, fats, oils and grease (FOG) build up on pipe walls, restricting the flow of wastewater exiting our home’s plumbing and, over time, causing sewer overflows into our homes or onto our streets, down storm drains, and into local waterways.  Instead, pour FOG into a container, cover, freeze, and trash it on garbage day.


Posted in: Beautification, Don't litter!, Fats, oils and grease disposal, Uncategorized

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Norfolk Volunteers Dedicated to a Clean Community

Posted on June 24, 2014 by | Comments Off

askHRgreen Great American Cleanup 2014The Norfolk community really gave it their all for the Great American Cleanup this year! To celebrate the season of spring cleaning and greening in communities across America, the City of Norfolk and Keep Norfolk Beautiful hosted and organized a variety of events from March to June. Activities included neighborhood and park cleanups like those in Ingleside and Villa Heights, education and outreach during Lafayette RiverFest, wetland grass planting in Colley Bay, cigarette litter prevention outreach, several recycling events, many waterway cleanups and lots of beautification through planting trees and flowers or sprucing up existing gardens. Phew, I’m exhausted after just listing all those activities! The Norfolk community truly shows a dedication to making their city a great place to live. Clean Community Coordinator, Lisa Renée Jennings, shared with askHRgreen the results of their hard work during the Great American Cleanup:

  • There were 70 individual events in Norfolk for the Great American Cleanup
  • Over 2,500 volunteers came out and made the events successful
  • 49,610 pounds of litter and debris were removed from neighborhoods and waterways
  • Over 3,000 plants were added to the community including the new wetland grasses in Colley Bay
  • Over 400 gallons of household hazardous waste chemicals were safely collected and disposed of properly

Great job, Norfolk! You should all be proud of your efforts to Keep Norfolk Beautiful!

Volunteers cleanup in Ocean View
Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful


Volunteers cleanup in Ocean View
Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful


USFF volunteers cleaned up 23rd Street
Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful


Improvements to the Eco Garden
Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful


Ladies of Distinction cleanup the Hague River
Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful


The Eastern Stars cleanup Virginia Beach Blvd
Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful


Volunteers plant wetland grasses in Colley Bay
Photo Credit: Keep Norfolk Beautiful


















































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

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Major Volunteer Effort at Local Park

Posted on June 19, 2014 by | Comments Off

Photo Credit: Friends of Indian River

Photo Credit: Friends of Indian River

Friends of Indian River kicked off the month of June with a huge burst of civic pride and environmental stewardship. With help from partners and individuals from the community, 180 volunteer hours were logged in Indian River Park in just 2 days.

The volunteer effort started on June 6th with 20 volunteers from Friends of Indian River partnering with a crew from Banyan Grove apartments in Virginia Beach. Together, they planted trees and shrubs around the new parking area in the Rokeby Avenue and Main Street area of the park. Chesapeake Parks & Recreation also supported the effort by providing native trees, compost, and a water truck. And thanks to local Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent, Mike Andrucyzk, trees and shrubs were obtained from the nursery at the Chesapeake Arboretum. Several Chesapeake Master Gardeners and Parks & Recreation maintenance crew members were also on hand to provide expert advice and assistance. Plantings included a screen of Atlantic White Cedars and several Bald Cypresses (the official Chesapeake City tree) with mulched beds. Over the summer, work will continue to improve the park including new amenities such as picnic tables, railing, an information kiosk, and a native plant demonstration garden.

Photo Credit: Friends of Indian River

Photo Credit: Friends of Indian River

But hey, that was just Day 1! On Saturday, June 7th many of the same volunteers returned to the park for Clean the Bay Day, an annual event from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Clean the Bay Day is a fun, hands-on way  for citizens all across Virginia to help our local waterways be healthy and litter-free. For this cleanup, Friends of Indian River had 40 volunteers descend on the park to clean up trash and litter. Volunteers came from various groups including the Tidewater Master Naturalists, the Cub Scouts, Centura College, and Kempsville Presbyterian Church. While the trails in the park are well kept and usually free of litter, Friends of Indian River President, Rogard Ross explained that each year a significant amount of litter gets washed down stream and is spread over the marshy areas of the park. Much of the litter is thoughtlessly discarded bottles, cans, food wrappers, and cigarette butts that are washed in from the surrounding neighborhoods by stormwater. Stormwater carries litter and other pollutants through the storm drains and out into local waterways. Volunteers pulled out nearly 1,000 pounds of trash from the park including (winner of the oddest item award) a 10′ kiddie slide!

Photo Credit: Friends of Indian River

Photo Credit: Friends of Indian River


Photo Credit: Friends of Indian River

Photo Credit: Friends of Indian River

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped clean up Indian River Park in June! It’s quite amazing how a hardworking group of dedicated citizens can make such big a difference in their community. Find out how you can support Friends of Indian River by visiting them online for more information or finding out more about a local watershed restoration group in your community right here on askHRgreen.



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

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