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How much litter to tolerate? How much beauty do we desire?

Posted on October 24, 2014 by | Comments Off

litterI often wonder about the “tipping point” when people realize they have too much litter around their community to be acceptable or tolerated any further.  Most of us reach that threshold of tolerability at a very early stage, and we work hard every day to keep our homes, streets and communities free of litter. Further, we strive for even greater beauty in the public spaces around us with the goal of creating a place we, and our neighbors, can be proud of and excited about.

litter1Unfortunately, many of us become desensitized over time to the appearance of misplaced solid waste, the modern definition of “litter.”  We silently and resentfully accept more of this, making us numb to the appearance of our community. We also assume that it is not our place to do anything about it. We leave it to others to take care of, or are quick to point fingers at the merchants and companies that produce the packaging that are left on our public right-of-ways.

To address this issue, people throughout Hampton Roads have joined together. Instead of staying frustrated and resigned that there will always be litter, we organize efforts to abate and prevent further littering. We cooperatively and collaboratively work side-by-side to fully understand the source of the litter, invite others to get involved, and develop strategic actions to resolve it for the long term.

litter3This effort takes more than just doing periodic litter pickup events. Cleaning up and keeping places clean is critical, but real change happens when there is a commonly understood and organized process, new partnerships, and investment of resources by citizens, businesses and government.

Many communities have recognized the need for this ongoing effort and have established “Clean Community” organizations. We are fortunate in Hampton Roads to have many such organizations, supported by local government and regionally connected through askHRgreen.org.

Norfolk CleanupBy reaching this page and reading to this point, you are probably already “on board” with these ideas and have a strong interest in creating more vibrant public spaces by preventing litter and investing in community beautification. You then become a change agent for this more positive and sustainable approach and lead your friends and families to join in. You have committed to reject litter and waste in your communities and create clean and appealing public spaces around you.

For more information about how you can support these efforts in your own community, contact your local recycling and beautification program to learn more about your city or county’s clean community programs. For information about how over 600 towns, cities and counties across the country are doing the same, check out Keep America Beautiful’s systematic approach to building vibrant communities.

Next Month: What is up with plastics recycling?

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

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Scrap Metal Recycling: Green & Good for Business

Posted on October 20, 2014 by | Comments Off

MP900313814[1]Although the changing technology of today has made our lives easy and comfortable, the same has led to a negative impact on the environment. However, we can help change this negative impact to a positive one through recycling. Waste is filling up landfills and giving rise to toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases, causing a constant increase in pollution, habitat destruction and climate change. If we recycle waste, we will help reduce our dependence on landfills, preserve raw materials and save an abundance of energy.

Scrap metal is found in all sorts of waste including old vehicles, construction debris, electronics, appliances, and even aerosol cans. This dump metal is big business and scrap metal recyclers can be easily found no matter where you live. As a result, 45 percent of the world’s steel, 40 percent of copper and around one-third of total aluminum production now comes from recycled metal.

Scrap Metal Recycling…

  • Reduces Toxic Contamination of Water and Soil.

The foremost benefit of scrap metal recycling is to the environment. Corrosive elements present in metal have the tendency to pollute the air and ground as they decompose in landfills. These toxic chemicals and compounds can harm you and your family through groundwater and air pollution. When an effort to recycle this scrap metal is made, it clearly leads to promoting a cleaner environment and minimizes the toxic threats to human health.

  • Conserves Energy and Other Natural Resources.

There is a lot of energy consumption when new metals like aluminum, copper, iron and steel are manufactured. Along with that tons of other natural resources like bauxite, iron ore, coal, limestone and others are also used in their manufacturing process every year. Recycling of scrap metal conserves a high percentage of energy and all these natural resources.

  • Provides Cost-Savings to Manufacturers

The production of metal requires enormous energy and abundance of raw materials that can cost the manufacturers a plenty. If they make use of recycled scrap metal, the costs of mining, extraction and various other processes involved to yield the final product are considerably reduced, profiting the manufacturers. Since, the supply of recycled scrap metal is plentiful, it ensures the manufacturers that their supply is unlikely to run out.

  • Creates Jobs.

Scrap metal recycling has become big business! Look around Hampton Roads and it’s easy to find a scrap metal recycling service convenient to your home or office. With business booming, recyclers can employ many people locally. Workers are needed to collect, sort, breakdown and process all the scrap metal items that are turned in for recycling. Then of course there are the business managers selling recycled materials to re-claimers and manufacturers around the world and managing the day-to-day operations of the business. Remember when you recycle you are keeping your community cleaner and putting people to work right in your own community.

Australian blogger Ella Rich is an automotive lover and an ardent advocate of green living. As a blogger for Metal Recycling Melbourne, she tries to educate people about recycling and the role of recycling in keeping our planet clean and green.

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

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Don’t Miss Your Chance to Win Free Golf

Posted on September 23, 2014 by | Comments Off

GolfTourneyThumbnailThere’s just one week left in the giveaway for a free foursome to play in the inaugural Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament! We’re so excited about this great event we’re even throwing in the Go Green package for each golfer which includes a mulligan, raffle ticket, and contest entry. The complete prize package is worth $700 so don’t miss out on this opportunity to win. Contest ends September 30, 2014.

Enter Today!
It’s easy! Simply enter your name, email address, and phone number and voila! One lucky winner will be chosen on October 1 and will receive:

  • Registration for a team of four in the golf tournament (a $600 value)
  • The “Go Green” package for each player on the team that includes a mulligan, raffle ticket, and contest entry (a $100 value)

At the tournament, each player will enjoy 18 holes of golf, cart, range balls, beverages, prizes, and an awards dinner provided by Outback Steakhouse.

Register here for your chance to win.

We’re giving away this foursome of golf to bring awareness to the importance of recycling, litter prevention, and beautification right here in Hampton Roads. Together with our partner, Keep Virginia Beautiful, askHRgreen.org is working diligently to help create a cleaner, greener region, but we need your help. Show your support by joining us on Monday, October 13, at the Greenbrier Country Club in Chesapeake for this inaugural event.

Posted in: Beautification, Community events, Don't litter!, HR Green campaign updates, Uncategorized

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What YOU Can Do to Prevent Street Flooding

Posted on September 11, 2014 by | Comments Off

We saw lots of flooding this week after the ten inches of rain that soaked the region. But do you know what you can do to help prevent street flooding? There are three basic types of floods: storm surge from tropical storms and hurricanes; tidal flooding from natural influences; and heavy rains that overwhelm the municipal stormwater system. Since there’s not much we can do to prevent tidal or storm flooding,  it’s crucial to prevent the stormwater system from becoming overwhelmed. To do so, our neighborhoods must be committed to: (1) reducing the amount of rain that goes down the storm drain and (2) giving stormwater runoff a clear path to flow through on its way through the system.

Stormwater-Runoff-GraphicJust think of it like the drain in your kitchen sink: If you poured a cup of water into the sink it would drain in seconds, right? But what about a 5 gallon bucket of water? The sink isn’t able to process 5 gallons of water as quickly as a cup of water. This, in a nutshell, is what happens when too much rain falls on hard surfaces (i.e. roofs, sidewalks, roadways, parking lots, etc.) and runs off into the stormwater system.  Finding other ways to manage stormwater runoff is so important to flood prevention.

Now, imagine you’re back at your sink only this time the drain is clogged. When you pour the cup of water into the sink it will not drain as quickly as before. And it would empty even slower with 5 gallons of water!  Yard waste like grass clippings and fallen leaves as well as everyday litter are frequent offenders for clogs in the stormwater system that contribute to flooding.

Here’s what you can do to take action against street flooding in your community:

  • Install a rain barrel to capture rainwater that can be used for outdoor watering.
  • Divert gutters towards rain gardens, flower beds and grassy areas so water has a chance to soak up.
  • Plant more flowers and trees – they soak up water better than turf grass, bare spots and concrete!
  • Support green infrastructure projects in your community that will reduce both flooding and water pollution.
  • Keep your gutters and downspouts clean and free flowing.
  • Don’t litter and pickup trash around your community – even if it isn’t yours.
  • Keep your roadside curb and ditch clear of litter and overgrown vegetation.
  • Only put rain down the drain. Grass clippings and fallen leaves cause troublesome clogs in storm drains, pipes and ditches.

Posted in: Don't litter!, Waterways

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Help Us Fight Ocean Trash – It Might Save a Whale!

Posted on September 2, 2014 by | Comments Off

We all followed the story of the Elizabeth River whale last month. We wondered why it had travelled into our local waterways and tracked its movements wondering where it would be spotted next. Many of us also worried about the health of the whale. Sei whales are not a native of our local waterways or even the Chesapeake Bay and prefer the deep waters of the world’s oceans.

So why was this sei whale, an internationally protected endangered species, swimming around the Elizabeth River? The likely answer is plastic. Upon inspection, experts from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center found a sharp 3×5 piece of plastic lodged into the whale’s stomach which was empty of food. That small piece of plastic, likely smaller than your hand, may have prevented the whale from eating. If this is the case, the whale probably wandered into the Elizabeth River via the Chesapeake Bay while suffering from malnutrition and confusion.

top-10-itemsWhile this may seem to be a freak accident to some, those of us working in environmental fields know all too well the seriousness of marine debris (aka ocean trash). Litter from land is the primary source of marine debris in the world’s oceans. Rain and wind carry litter into city storm drains or local waterways and the trash accumulates in higher volumes as it collects farther and farther downstream. Marine animals like sea turtles, whales, ospreys and albatrosses (to name a few) may mistake our litter as food or become entangled in it. Plastics are particularly harmful because they are often not digestible and prevent the animal from eating …just like the Elizabeth River sei whale.

So we are asking all of Hampton Roads to help us in the fight against ocean trash – because it’s the right thing to do and it just might save a whale too! Here’s how you can help:

  • Participate in the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup from September to October. Clear litter and debris out of roadways, parks and waterways right here in Hampton Roads. For events in Virginia, visit the Virginia Clean Waterways program for details.
  • Don’t litter. And yes, cigarette butts are litter too.
  • Secure your trash. Keep your trash can lid sealed tight and be mindful of trash that can blow out of your car or truck.
  • Cut back on plastics. Ditch disposable plastic items and packaging especially when it is not recyclable.
  • Refuse plastics more often. Don’t take plastics just because they are offered for free. Think twice before grabbing plastic bags, disposable cups and disposable plastic straws!
  • Share the message with a friend. Help others understand that decisions they make on a daily basis can really make a difference.

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

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