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Suffolk Makes Battery Recycling Easy

Posted on July 28, 2015 by | Comments Off

batteriesRecycling. It is a word that is used often enough, common to most. It is a word describing the re-use or re-purposing of an item. Most people think of recycling as paper, plastic bottles, glass, or metal, but recycling can be much more than that. In the City of Suffolk, batteries, for example, are just as easy to recycle as your typical household recycling. Although you cannot put them in your curbside container, the City of Suffolk offers many drop off sites to place your alkaline batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V).

As interns for the City of Suffolk in the Public Works Department we will have the opportunity to explore different divisions throughout the summer. This week, while working with the Environmental Engineering division, we were able to learn the benefits of striving to achieve a clean, litter free community. This included learning about the world of battery recycling. Before this week, none of us knew that batteries could be recycled, much less the benefits that keeping batteries out of landfills provided. Although seemingly harmless, batteries contain heavy metals that have the possibility to contaminate our environment. To keep these heavy metals out of landfills and conserve resources, it is best to have batteries recycled. The Suffolk Clean Commission, or Keep Suffolk Beautiful, has placed battery recycling bins in various locations throughout the city including select libraries, public buildings and stores. The commissioners empty the batteries from these bins at least once a month and take them to a larger battery storage bin where it is picked up to be recycled once a year.  For each of us, our families recycle normal household materials in our curbside container regularly, but now we can help with educating them on where to take our batteries for recycling as well.battery recycling

So what do you do with your batteries? Do you keep them? Throw them away? The City of Suffolk makes battery recycling easy for citizens. Click here to see where your nearest battery recycling bins are located. To find out more about the Battery Recycling Program in Suffolk, contact the Litter Control Coordinator at   

 The content of this blog was created by City of Suffolk Public Works interns.

Posted in: Reduce reuse and recycle

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Buckroe Beach’s New Additons!

Posted on July 23, 2015 by | Comments Off

HA Buckroe Beach

“Grooving by the Bay” Concert Series
Buckroe Beach Park, Hampton, VA

Every Sunday evening through August 9th, hundreds will gather at Buckroe Park for Grooving by the Bay. Some will tap to the beat of a band and others will dance till the sun goes down or their feet ache. Whichever comes first!

Years ago ashtrays were in every vehicle, restaurant, business, and many homes. Today, ash receptacles are hard to find and businesses require smokers to smoke only outside. Last year at Buckroe Park there was no place to dispose of cigarette butts and cigar tips safely! According to “Keep America Beautiful” research, 32% of litter is found in outdoor recreation areas. Of course, the beach and park are no place for cigarette butt filters that contain a concentation of harmful carcinogens and are undigestable.  They may be picked up by children or eaten by wildlife thinking it is food.  Don’t despair!

HA Buckroe Beach CLPPGOOD NEWS! SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT THIS YEAR! Thanks to a Keep America Beautiful  and their Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) grant along with $5,000 raised by through the annual Keep Hampton Roads Beautiful Golf Tournament, ash receptacles have now been placed for smokers convenience at both Buckroe Park and Buckroe’s Fishing Pier!

Be on the lookout for our new additions placed at the pavilion, entrance to playground, restroom area, Sand Dollar picnic shelter, and park and fishing piers. Volunteers will also be passing out free pocket ashtrays to smokers during the Grooving by the Bay concert series. So far, recipients of pocket ashtrays are delighted to become advocates for creating a cleaner community not only for children, but our wildlife and waterways too. 

CigButtLitter-Pic2Come on down and listen to the beat of “Grooving by the Bay” Sunday evenings from 6:00- 9:00 pm. Last concert is August 9th. You just may see me or one of our volunteers passing out pocket ashtrays!  Please introduce yourself!

This blog contributed by Cris Ausink of the Hampton Clean City Commission.

Posted in: Beautification, Cigarette Litter, Cigarette Litter, Don't litter!, Waterways

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Rain Barrels Made Easy

Posted on July 20, 2015 by | Comments Off

IMG_2946I have wanted to install a rain barrel at my house for a very, very long time. It would be one way to help reduce flooding in a low area in our yard. Plus we have lots of plants that would love the free water. But, seriously, who has a 55 gallon barrel lying around? I certainly didn’t. I checked lots of options online from the minimal to the beautiful (and pricey). I just wasn’t sure what to get. So like many other things in life, the rain barrel dream was put on the back burner while my busy life continued.

And then, when I wasn’t even thinking about rain barrels, everything fell into place! I learned about a low cost rain barrel workshop hosted by Hampton Master Gardens and Hampton Clean City Commission on a weekend my husband was (finally) off work. So I signed us up and a few days later we were traveling home with a 55 gallon rain barrel in the back of our Toyota Corolla. (Yes, it did fit in there!)

IMG_2942The two hour workshop provided a great overview of water quality problems and what we could all do to help clean up local waterways. It also included the supplies and assistance we needed to make our very own rain barrel. The barrels were pre-drilled for the faucet and overflow connector so all we had to do was attach fixtures, caulk and away we went!

The next day we stopped by the hardware store and picked up two cans of all surface spray paint, bricks and some downspout elbows. We stacked up the bricks and placed the rain barrel on top so our watering can will fit underneath. Next, we measured the gutter and made a cut in just the right place. And when I say we did this…I definitely just mean my husband did it. The downspout elbows finished off the project by helping future rainfall find its way into our rain barrel.

Bekah Rain BarrelSo here it is! The finished product that will reduce flooding in our swampy yard, provide a source of free water for outdoor uses and help our home send less water down the storm drain and into local waterways. Find out how you can make your own rain barrel or if you’re like me and need some outside help, find an upcoming rain barrel workshop near you!

Now let’s see your rain barrels, Hampton Roads! Share a picture of your rain barrel with us on Facebook or Twitter and inspire others to get their own.

Posted in: Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Outdoor tips, Rain Barrels, Using water wisely, Waterways

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Fighting Cigarette Litter in Newport News

Posted on July 16, 2015 by | Comments Off

CigButtLitter-Pic2Did you know that for the last 27 years, cigarette litter has been the number one item picked up during Clean the Bay Day and the International Coastal Cleanup? Sadly, most smokers believe that cigarette butts and cigar tips are biodegradable. They are not. The problem is not only that cigarette litter is unsightly. It can als0 cause fires in mulch material, clog storm drains and endanger marine animals. Studies have shown that eighteen percent of litter dropped on streets ends up in waterways.

The Newport News Resource Recovery Team and Community Maintenance/Beautification Team have been partnering with Keep America Beautiful for over four years to promote awareness about cigarette litter and engage community partners in cigarette litter prevention projects. This year, Newport News joined Hampton Roads District Planning Commission and the regional team to combine resources and share expertise.

You can look at nearly any intersection in Hampton Roads and see evidence of cigarette litter. It costs every city and county in the region a great deal of time, effort and money to clear storm drains that are clogged with litter. That litter can cause flooding and other problems within the community. In all of our projects, we have engaged property owners, residents businesses and our citizens in outreach and awareness and provided pocket ashtrays, permanent ash receptacles to be placed in strategic locations and auto-friendly cup holder ashtrays for smokers on-the-go. Our goal is to provide options to smokers so they will no longer use our streets and sidewalks to dispose of their cigarettes.

NN Go Green Auto CareThis year’s project in Newport News will be along the section of Warwick Boulevard that crosses Main Street. Go Green Auto Care, located at 10500 Warwick Boulevard in Newport News, is one distribution and outreach partner along with other area businesses and the good neighbors at First United Methodist Church and St Andrews Episcopal Church.

How can you help? You can make a difference by:

  • Carrying a portable ashtray when smoking outside. We have both pocket ashtrays and a limited number of car cup holder ashtrays available at our business partners and at our Recovery Operations Center located at 530 Atkinson Way in Newport News.
  • Use an ash receptacle to dispose of cigarette butts. These are normally located near transition points where people must stop smoking before they proceed.
  • Do not throw your cigarette butts out of car windows.

Together we can make a difference.

This blog submitted by Daniel Baxter, Business Recycling Coordinator for the City of Newport News.

Posted in: Cigarette Litter, Don't litter!

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How Will New Water Heater Efficiency Standards Affect the Planet and You?

Posted on July 14, 2015 by | Comments Off

 New water heaters promise big energy bill savings, as well as big benefits for the planet

Tap Water DripAfter heating and cooling, the average American household expends most of its energy on heating water. The good news is that new Department of Energy efficiency standards went into effect for water heaters in April of this year. This means that if you’re in the market for a new water heater, you could cut down your energy use by up to 47%.

This change will help consumers save about $63 billion in energy bills and eliminate about 172.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 30 years. According to the DOE, this is equivalent to removing 33.8 million cars from the roads for an entire year.

How can you benefit from this change? Well, if your water heater is nearing the end of its life (average lifecycle varies, but somewhere between 10 and 20 years can be assumed), be sure to purchase a new one that is compliant with these new standards. Manufacturers are allowed to continue selling non-compliant models until the stock is depleted, so you can still buy the previous generation. However, as of April 2015, only compliant models can be manufactured.

What Are The Guidelines?

Boiled down to the simplest measure, these new guidelines require electric water heaters with a capacity of 55 gallons or less to have an energy factor (EF) of 0.95 (previously it was 0.9), and large tanks, with a capacity of 56 gallons or more, to have an EF of 2.0 (previously 0.86). The EF is a metric that compares the energy conversion efficiency of residential appliances. EF is used in rating dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, as well as water heaters. The higher the EF, the more efficient the unit.

Water Heater Tables


How Will This Impact Me?

This leap in energy efficiency will impact homeowners in two ways. The new requirements have resulted in water heater manufacturers essentially redesigning their products to achieve the new EF. Smaller water heaters will see a slight increase of 4% efficiency, mainly through improving insulation. But it’s the larger tanks where the biggest energy savings will come. To meet the new standards, manufacturers are incorporating heat pump or gas condensing technology, both of which use self-produced energy to help heat the water. Heat pump water heaters reduce an electric water heater’s consumption by about 50%, whereas gas condensers reduce the already-more-efficient gas water heater’s consumption by 25%. This can save an average household almost $300 per year on its electricity bills, or $100 year off the gas bill.

What’s the Catch?

This redesign means that water heaters are getting bigger, so if you are buying a new one you may find that you’ll need to downsize the capacity of your tank to fit in the current space, or re-design the space. If a major redesign becomes a factor, you might want to consider switching to a tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters, otherwise known as on-demand heaters, heat water instantly and therefore have no need for a large tank of water. This means they have a much smaller footprint than a tank model, and can even be installed outside in some climates. Most tankless heaters already meet energy efficiency guidelines. Whole-home tankless water heaters use less energy than tank heaters because they only heat water when it’s needed, not constantly, as with a tank heater. Traditionally, tankless models have been more expensive than tank water heaters, but because energy efficiency improvements are driving up the prices of tank water heaters, tankless models are beginning to compete on price.

Conserve Water, Conserve Energy

Whichever water heater you choose, remember that you should be looking to conserve water as well. Start taking shorter showers or use the on-off method (turn the water off when shampooing, then back on again). Also, install low-flow showerheads and inexpensive aerators in all your faucets to cut down on the amount of water you use for everyday tasks such as washing dishes and brushing your teeth. If we all take these small steps, combined with the increase in energy efficiency of an improved water heater, we can collectively make a very big reduction in our energy and water needs.

 Guest blog submitted by Jennifer Tuohy who writes about new energy efficiency developments in the home for The Home Depot.

Posted in: Going Green, Smart Water Use: Indoor

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