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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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Eat Ugly Apples

Posted on October 17, 2014 by | Comments (1)

apples2When you walk through the produce section of a grocery store, it’s always the same view once you get to the apples. Large, glistening orbs of pristine red, yellow and green apples are neatly piled on the shelves, their looks alone inviting the shopper to add them to their cart. So you pick one up and scrupulously examine it to make sure nothing is wrong, add it to your cart, and move on with your purchases. As an apple grower in Southwestern Virginia, I’d like to use four words to tell you what I think about these pristine apples at the grocery store: I won’t eat them.

apples1It’s not just because they often taste bad (Red delicious – seriously?), but also because how they are grown. You see, that pristine, blemish-free beauty is a result of management – apples do not naturally look like that in Virginia. Left to its own devices on a tree (and it depends on the apple variety), an apple would likely be covered in a smattering of cosmetic diseases.  These diseases do not alter the taste of these apples (aside from sometimes making them sweeter) and are not in any way an indicator of your apple having a worm.  Yet we Americans have been trained to eat beautiful fruit and reject the blemishes. Because we fear these harmless blemishes, millions of gallons of fungicides are sprayed on apples (organic and conventional) every year across the United States to make them go away.

apples3That person on the tractor in a white tyvec suit who is being followed by a white plume of chemical spray – that’s me, Eliza Greenman, age 30. No matter how much I try and cover-up with all of the necessary gear, I get those chemicals on me at a higher concentration than what lands on the fruit. I’m one of the youngest orchardists in the country by a generation and hope to have a long life ahead of me so I’ve started a campaign to reduce the threats on my health as the farmer, your health as the consumer, and the environmental impacts from  farming practices. Eat Ugly Apples.

Making the conscious choice to eat ugly apples is better and cheaper for you as the consumer, protects environmental quality and it’s better for me as the farmer. It’s time we challenged the social norm that currently has us demanding glistening orbs of perfection from the growers. This takes some awareness and I’m here to help.

Good to Do:

  • Consider eating varieties of apples that you’ve never heard of before. There are 7,000 different known varieties of apples in North America and many of these are better suited for growing in the hot and humid Virginia climate. For example, apples called “Russets” look like potatoes and aren’t very susceptible to many of the cosmetic diseases. They taste amazing. Ask for them and keep asking for them!
  • Learn the blemishes. I’m convinced that corporate agriculture named these diseases to sound much worse than they actually are. Sooty blotch, fly speck, apple scab and powdery mildew are the top four cosmetic diseases. My pictures above should help you identify them.
  • Spread the ugly apple gospel! Bring down those naysayers with assurance that they will not get sick from eating sooty blotch or fly speck. Naysayers still rejecting the blemishes? Peel it!
  • Take ugly apples social! Tweet, Facebook and Instagram the handle #eatuglyapples when consuming a beautifully blemished specimen. Let’s get this out there.

Thank you, and may you have many ugly apples in your future!

Eliza is an orchardist and tree nursery owner in Southwestern VA (originally from Poquoson, VA). She specializes in growing heirloom apples, cultivating rare apple genetics, and raising fruit trees for the hard cider industry.

Posted in: Gardening, Going Green, Household tips

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Local Businesses Support Cleaner, Greener Hampton Roads

Posted on October 16, 2014 by | Comments Off

GolfTourneyThumbnailThis past Monday, askHRgreen.org and Keep Virginia Beautiful hosted the inaugural Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament at Greenbrier Country Club in Chesapeake. As the local go-to resource for all things green, askHRgreen.org was selected to partner with Keep Virginia Beautiful on this fundraiser to support recycling education and community beautification in the 17-city/county Hampton Roads region. In addition to having the PERFECT weather for golf, each player enjoyed breakfast from Happy Day Donuts, lunch from Chick-fil-A, beverages, raffle prizes, an awards dinner from Outback Steakhouse—and of course the good feeling that comes along with playing to support a great cause.

We can’t thank our wonderful sponsors enough for their support and for making this inaugural event such a huge success. We hope to see everyone back in 2015!

Corporate Sponsors
Adams Outdoor Advertising
RDS
Smithfield Farmland
TFC Recycling
Waste Management

Specialty Sponsors
Boomerang Recovery  |  Chick-fil-A  |  CML Recycling  |  Entercom  | Eure Signs  | Frito Lay  | General Cigar Company  | Happy Day Donuts  | MAP Communications, Inc.  | MaxLiner, LLC  | New Dominion Pictures  | Outback Steakhouse  | Pepsi

Hole Sponsors
Bay Disposal  | City of Portsmouth  | Coastal Virginia Magazine  | Reliance Staffing & Recruiting  | SB Cox  | The Tide 92.3 FM  | Troy University  | VersAbility Resources

Start4_web

Posted in: Community events

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Composting: My Dirty Little Secret

Posted on October 15, 2014 by | Comments Off

Testing soil is easyWant to know a dirty little secret? I love composting more than I love gardening.

Sounds crazy, right? Let me explain…

1. Composting is Effortless
Gardens are work. There are weeds to be removed, mulch to be put down, and veggies to harvest. Composting is simple. Organic material goes in, you turn it over every once in a while, and out comes nutrient-rich dirt.  

2. Composting is Forgiving
Composting allows for laziness. If I neglect my garden for a week, weeds take over and plants die.  If I miss a week of adding food scraps, landscape clippings or organic waste to my compost bin, no big deal!

3. Composting makes Friends out of Enemies
When it comes to bugs in my garden – I want them out! They eat vegetation! They burrow in my veggies! They destroy my plants! In my compost bin, they go from being enemies to friends. Those same bugs are what make the magic happen! They help aerate my bin and break down compost into beautiful soil.

Are you ready to fall in love with composting? The Virginia Cooperative Extension has a great composting guide to help you get started. Go ahead, try it! Who knows, you might just find you love composting more than gardening, too!

This blog post was submitted by Erica Roberts, Media & Communications Coordinator with Virginia Beach Public Utilities.

Posted in: Gardening, Going Green, Lawn and landscape, Outdoor tips

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