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Chesapeake Recycles Day

Posted on September 8, 2014 by | Comments Off

Chesapeake RecyclesDuring the summer, the last thing I want to do is spend time cleaning out my house and shed.  I want to be at the beach or by the pool!  But then September rolls around and I have to face the mess I’ve created while having my summer fun.  Now it’s time to clean things up!

If a major cleanup is on your September to-do list too, I have great news.  Here in Chesapeake, we’re holding one of our Chesapeake Recycles Day events on September 20 in South Norfolk!  We’ll accept your electronics and plastic bags for recycling, household hazardous waste for proper disposal and paper for shredding.  (Here’s a more detailed list of what will be accepted.)  Goodwill, TREX, SPSA, Stealth Shredding and TFC Recycling will be on-site to collect your items.  We hope to be your one-stop spot to safely and responsibly get rid of your clutter.  Citizens from all municipalities are welcome!

Come visit us on September 20 from 9 a.m. to noon at Southgate Plaza Shopping Center, 2307 Bainbridge Blvd, Chesapeake.  I’ll be out there in my fashionable safety vest so if you see me be sure to say “Hi!”

Posted in: Community events, plastic bags, Reduce reuse and recycle

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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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What makes your community beautiful?

Posted on August 29, 2014 by | Comments Off

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?

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Posted in: Beautification, Don't litter!

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Know Your Beach is Safe

Posted on August 28, 2014 by | Comments Off

BeachClosedRecent beach closures have been a cause of concern in Hampton Roads.  As you make your Labor Day plans, become educated on beach monitoring and enjoying the beach safely.  Protect your health while swimming at the beach.  The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends the following simple steps to protect your health while swimming at the beach:

  • Observe Swimming Advisories–do not enter the water at a beach when swimming advisory signs are posted.
  • Avoid swallowing water or having water forced up your nose when swimming; natural waters may contain disease-causing organisms that can cause gastrointestinal or neurological illnesses.
  • Avoid swimming for a few days after heavy rainfall; bacteria levels are likely to be high and disease-causing organisms are more likely to be present after rainfall due to pollution from land runoff and other sources.
  • Prevent direct contact of cuts and open wounds with recreational water; natural waters may contain disease-causing organisms that may cause skin infections.
  • Avoid swimming in areas where dead fish are present; dead fish may indicate that water conditions are poor or hazardous materials are in the water. Please contact the Department of Environmental Quality (804-698-4000) if you observe a fish kill.
  • Don’t swim if you are ill or have a weakened immune system; some organisms are opportunistic and may only cause illness when you are already ill or your immune system is weakened.
  • Shower with soap after swimming; showering helps remove potential disease-causing organisms.
  • Swim away from fishing piers, pipes, drains, and water flowing from storm drains onto a beach.
  • Do not dispose of trash, pet waste, or dirty diapers on the beach.  Use proper receptacles.

Bacteria levels in beach water are monitored at 46 public beaches in Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean during the swimming season (May-September). Water samples are collected weekly by Local Health Departments and analyzed by local laboratories for enterococci bacteria. If bacteria levels exceed Virginia’s Water Quality Standard of 104 colony forming units (cfu)/100 mL of water, a swimming advisory is issued.  To stay up to date on beach conditions, follow VDH’s Beach Monitoring Program on Twitter (@VDHBeach) to receive  notifications of the status of current swimming advisories, or log on to: https://twitter.com/VDHBeach.

Posted in: Waterways

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There’s a Green App for That!

Posted on August 27, 2014 by | Comments Off

green apps pic copyIt’s 2014, people – going green has gone digital!  We live in a world where there’s an app for everything and that includes green living.  Here are 5 green apps that help you be a better friend to the environment.  (And they’re all available on both Apple and Android devices and are free!)

TapIt – Of course I had to start with the coolest app on the planet – askHRGreen.org’s TapIt app!  Yes I’m biased but in all seriousness, it’s a genious idea.  The  TapIt app allows you to tap into a network of local businesses who would love to fill your water bottle with clean, refreshing tap water – for free!

GoodGuide – I have just started using this app and I’m already obsessed.  It helps you find “safe, healthy, green and ethical products.”  Maybe you prefer to buy skin care items that are not tested on animals and have no toxic chemicals or perhaps you’re searching for organic, fair trade food items.  This app can take the guess work out of finding the right product for you!  Find items in several different categories such as Personal Care, Food, Household and Babies & Kids.

iRecycle – Powered by Earth911, this app helps you find out what you can recycle and where you can recycle it.  It puts the power of recycling into the palm of your hand!  (Search the Apple store or Google Play for this app.)

PaperKarma – When I get lots of mail, I get really excited – until I realize it’s all junk!  PaperKarma to the rescue!  Just take a picture of the unwanted mail and PaperKarma will make sure you’re removed from the mailing list.  Now that’s good karma.

Seafood Watch – We are a seafood-lovin’ region here in Hampton Roads but did you know your dinner choice could be harming the environment?  This app is a great way to check out if your favorite seafood dish is sustainable, meaning the fishing or farming of it can “maintain or increase production into the long-term without jeopardizing the affected ecosystems.”  Eat without the guilt with this app!

There are tons of other green apps out there.   Which are you using? 

Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, Going Green, Household tips, Reduce reuse and recycle, Uncategorized, Using water wisely

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