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Make Your Spring Green

Posted on March 12, 2015 by | Comments Off

Spring Cleaning Just Ahead Green Road Sign and CloudsIt’s that time of year again. Time to pack up our winter coats, put away our space heaters, and tidy up for a new season. That’s right! Spring is around the corner and along with the flowers blooming, birds chirping and the warm weather, comes spring cleaning.

Spring Cleaning does not have to mean harsh cleaning products or garbage bags full of junk. You can achieve supreme clean and maintain environmental stewardship at the same time! Check out the tips below for some helpful suggestions.

  • Put waste in its place: when cleaning out the garage, shed, or attic, be sure to dispose of all household hazardous waste properly. Try recycling them through an approved recycler as opposed to leaving them on the curbside.
  • Try toxic-free cleaning: try cleaning with products that contain less chemicals and more natural ingredients. You can even make your own! Some common environmentally safe products include baking soda, lemon and white vinegar. By using toxic-free cleaning products, you are keeping pollutants out of your home and out of our waterways.
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: throwing out old clothes and other items is usually a high priority on anyone’s spring cleaning checklist. Instead of tossing these materials in the garbage, try re-purposing them or donating them to a nearby shelter. Old clothing can be sewed into quilts, old books can be used for crafts, and old mail can be shredded and recycled.
  • Test, don’t guess: with all spring cleaning, comes yard work. Try reducing your fertilizer use this spring! To do this, test your soil before using fertilizer. By knowing exactly what nutrients your lawn may be lacking, you are reducing your risk of over fertilizing. This helps our waterways AND your wallet!

For most of us, spring cleaning is an annual ritual, for others, it’s a dreaded necessity. Adjusting your spring cleaning with more environmentally friendly actions can be easy, fun, and rewarding. By making your spring green you are helping create a healthier, cleaner home and a lasting community.

Blog contributed by Alacia Nixson, Municipal Intern with City of Norfolk.

Posted in: Going Green, Household tips, Outdoor tips, Reduce reuse and recycle, Waterways

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Sewer Sociology: Your Business Is My Business

Posted on March 5, 2015 by | Comments Off

“Don’t wait too long or you will have an accident.”  My 3-year old hears this all the time.  In fact, she has recently started asking me, “Do you need to go potty?”, which I think is some kind of passive-aggressive way to tell me to back off.  I obviously have an issue with letting other people’s “business” stay as their own business because it doesn’t stop at my own children.   I’m interested in everyone’s toilet habits as you have probably noticed from my blogs.  Hey, it comes with the job

Super Bowl Flow, 2015.

Wastewater from blue areas is pumped to Atlantic Treatment Plant.

Wastewater from blue areas is pumped to Atlantic Treatment Plant.

For the past 3 years I’ve looked at sewage flow during the Super Bowl, and it turns out the region is fairly regular (pun intended)  when it comes to wastewater flow during this unofficial American national holiday.   Trends in Hampton Roads during the 2013 and 2014 Super Bowl games were similar to this year’s game between the Patriots and Seahawks:  wastewater flow was lower than normal after kickoff while everyone was watching the game, with a spike in flow around half-time and a larger spike in flow at the end of the game when everyone who was “holding it” finally ran to the bathroom.  Check out the flow graph of HRSD’s Atlantic Treatment Plant in Virginia Beach and see for yourself (click to enlarge).  If you live in the blue area shown in the map to the left, your flushes are sent to this plant to be cleaned. 

And for all of you out there who held it, I just have to say…next time please don’t wait too long or you will have an accident.

Posted in: Waterways

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Chesapeake Recycles Day

Posted on March 3, 2015 by | Comments Off

Electronics Recycling It’s time for another Chesapeake Recycles Day!  On Saturday, March 14 from 9 a.m. to noon, we’ll be in the Deep Creek section of Chesapeake, at 3316 South Military Highway (that’s just east of the intersection with George Washington Highway).  We work with some great community partners: SPSA, TFC Recycling, Goodwill, Stealth Shredding and TREX.  Our mission with these events is to provide citizens with an easy, convenient way to properly dispose of a variety of items.

  • Household Hazardous Waste (oils, paint, pesticides, batteries)
  • Recyclables (the usual blue bin items)
  • Electronics
  • Household items (clothing, small appliances, home décor)
  • Paper (including books, notebooks, binders and file folders)
  • Plastic bags

Visit the City of Chesapeake website to get a full list of items we collect and to find out how you can volunteer your time to help us make this event run smoothly.

Hope to see you there!


Posted in: Community events, Reduce reuse and recycle, Uncategorized

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It’s a Lean, Mean, REPURPOSABLE Machine!

Posted on February 27, 2015 by | Comments (1)

bag beforeIf you already have one of the askHRgreen reusable bags, you know that it’s not just a bag…it’s a veggie-totin, pizza-packin, clothes-carryin, shoppin-stuffin, book bag of EPIC importance.  But that’s not all.  As I recently discovered, these bags are not only reusable, they’re REPURPOSABLE.  I had never thought of repurposing a reusable bag.  I mean, by simply using it for its intended purpose I can eliminate plastic bags from my routine. Feeling like a good little environmental steward doesn’t get any easier. 

Unfortunately, although I keep reusable bags in the car I often forget to take them into the grocery store with me – greenie FAIL!  Fortunately, I work at HRSD, which started a plastic bag recycling program so when I do end up with more plastic bags than I can reuse (or other kinds of plastic film packaging) I can bring them into work to be recycled and feel a little better about my self-proclaimed greenie status.  As the saying goes:  Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Reduce usage first, reuse materials for as long as possible, and then recycle.  Check out A Bag’s Life to find a plastic bag recycling drop-off location convenient to you and increase your own greenie score.

Not just a bag!

Not just a bag!  Find out how to make this artist’s pouch at

But back to the reusable bags.  If you find yourself with more reusable bags than you are actually using, or if you have a damaged bag – don’t throw them away!  A typical non-woven polypropylene bag must be used at least 11 times before its carbon footprint is less than a single-use plastic bag.  Yikes.  Reusable bags collecting dust are NOT green (talk about a greenie-fail).  Repurpose instead.  Check out how Lisa’s son created an artist’s pouch from one of our reusable bags on her local blog, October Epiphany

What other ideas do you have for your lean, mean, repurposable machine?

Posted in: Going Green, Household tips, plastic bags, Reduce reuse and recycle

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Properly Dispose of Your Old Light Bulbs

Posted on February 20, 2015 by | Comments Off

As an interior designer, I see firsthand something that most people never think much about: Americans use a lot of light bulbs. In fact, the average American household has 45 of them! Though technology has brought us much more efficient and longer lasting bulbs, eventually, they all burn out.

When you imagine the millions of bulbs thrown away every year, you begin to get a sense of the potential impact on the environment. Different bulbs require different disposal strategies, and you’re best off checking with your local waste management and recycling provider about specific requirements where you live. Whatever those may be, here’s a quick and easy run down of how to dispose of any type of bulb you might be working with in your home or office.

Light bulbIncandescent Bulbs
If you’ve still got some of these floating around, they’ll burn out soon enough. Incandescents are filled with a gas, but no real toxic material. Still, they are not yet accepted at most recycling centers. For now, just throw these away with the regular trash.




CFLCompact Fluorescent Lamps
You probably know these as CFLs, and probably also know that they last much longer than incandescent bulbs. Because they use mercury, you can’t throw these out or even recycle them. If you put them in the trash, you risk releasing mercury into your neighborhood’s air, soil and water. They require specific and careful disposal, offered by most municipalities through household hazardous waste disposal. Check with your local waste management and recycling provider to find out where you can dispose of these.

Halogen bulbs
Halogens are commonly used in outdoor floodlighting, but are also used in some indoor fixtures. They also use a gas-halogen gas-but like incandescents, are not particularly toxic, so these can safely be thrown into the trash as well.

LEDLED bulbs
Light Emitting Diodes, as they’re also known, don’t require any dangerous chemicals at all. That means you can throw these away in the trash. And to that the fact that these bulbs can last 25,000 hours (about 10 years if used for 6 hours per day) and you can see why LEDs are the greenest choice for lighting your home or office. 



 This guest blog submitted by interior designer, Kerrie Kelly. Kerrie gives insight about design’s impact on the environment, and shares her knowledge for The Home Depot.

Posted in: Household tips, Reduce reuse and recycle

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