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Be a Good Mate and Keep Our Waterways Ship Shape!

Posted on August 13, 2014 by | Comments Off

Smithfield Station in Isle of Wight - A Virginia Clean MarinaIf you’re a boater in Hampton Roads, you probably don’t need to be told that our waterways are a valuable resource. And you probably already know that it is important to have a thriving population of fish and crabs. And you definitely understand that the Chesapeake Bay is stunning and beautiful and worth protecting…

But what you might not realize is that by default boaters are the voice of clean water! Yep, the Salt Life sticker on the back of your truck or the Bass Pro Shop hat on your head tells the world “I support clean waterways!” Surprised? Don’t be! You know how important clean water is! It’s likely that you’ve seen the impacts of water pollution firsthand. So now that you know you have a hand to play in clean waterways, what are you and all your boat-loving friends going to do about it? We’ll make it easy for you. Just follow these good to do tips and share them with a friend!

  • Butts on Board – The most common type of litter found in waterways? Cigarettes butts! Don’t throw these little bits overboard – they add up to a big mess that takes years to decompose.
  • Secure Your Trash – Don’t let fishing line, drink bottles/cans, or wrappers from your snacks get lost in the ocean breeze. Bring along two containers with sealable lids for collecting trash and recyclables.
  • Keeping it Clean – When your boat is in dry-dock, give it a good scrub on a ‘natural’ surface like grass, gravel or dirt. The natural surface will soak up the dirty water instead of sending it into waterways through the storm drains. Opt for cleaning with plain water or, if needed, a phosphate-free, biodegradable and non-toxic cleaner when your boat is in the water.
  • Oil and Water Don’t Mix – Keep toxic chemicals out of the water. That means preventing oil, gas, and antifreeze from spilling into waterways. Preventative maintenance is key!
  • Respect No Discharge Zones No discharge zones are areas where boaters cannot empty their onboard toilet tanks (aka marine sanitation device) into waterways due to risks to human health, potential damage to aquatic habitats or existing water quality concerns. Locally the Lynnhaven River is a no discharge zone as is the Piankatank River slightly to our north in Middlesex County. The best disposal option is to use a marina pump station to empty waste.
  • Heed the No Wake Signs – That No Wake sign might indicate that you’re in an environmentally sensitive area. Wake can cause erosion along shorelines which reduces the natural barrier that filters polluted stormwater created by the landlubbers and their impervious structures.
  • Choose Clean Marinas – The Virginia Clean Marina Program promotes the voluntary use of pollution reduction strategies by marinas, boatyards and boaters. Find a Clean Marina near you and give them your business whenever you can. Better yet? Talk with your regular marina about becoming a member!

For more ways you can be a waterway-friendly boater, visit Virginia Clean Marina online. And don’t forget there’s also plenty of ways to keep waterways clean from the shore!

Posted in: Don't litter!, Outdoor tips, Waterways

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Can You Dig it?

Posted on August 11, 2014 by | Comments Off

Leg of a Man Standing with a Shovel in a YardIt’s National 811 Day! That’s right; August 11th is all about learning to dig safely in order to protect underground utility lines. All you need to know is this: call 811 before you dig! It’s that easy. Within 3 working days, a crew will come out and mark your site with paint and flags indicating where the underground utilities lines are on your property.

Most people don’t stop to think about the network of utility lines that are running beneath their feet. These utility lines are out of sight and out of mind! But you’d surely realize the moment they were gone. Powers out? Toilet won’t flush? No H2O flowing from the tap? That’s what happens when underground utilities are damaged by careless diggers. Even worse than service interruptions is the possibility of wastewater spills. It won’t be pleasant if you bust a wastewater line during your dig – for you or the environment. Not to mention that damage to utility lines cause costly repairs to infrastructure.   

So before you begin your next weekend warrior project, call 811 and find out where the utility lines are on your property.

Posted in: Outdoor tips

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Virginia Beach Landfill and Resource Recovery Center Rebranded

Posted on August 6, 2014 by | Comments Off

528304_10150718483939860_490997696_n“Resource Recover Center” was added to the name of the Virginia Beach City Landfill to highlight the wide variety of services offered there, and to help educate all Virginia Beach residents of the opportunities to make the most of their discards. Discards don’t have to be trash. Virginia Beach curbside and drop off recycling programs are award winning and have tremendous community support, but are just the beginning to overall Waste Minimization. Donate what can be donated.  Recycle what can be recycled. Responsibly dispose of those items, such as Household Hazardous Waste, that cannot be donated or recycled. Goodwill was selected to provide donation boxes on site as part of the Resource Recovery Center. In addition to the regular recycling drop off boxes, “Other Recycling Options” are continuously being developed and currently include all types of metal, electronics such as computers and cell phones, batteries, rigid plastics, oyster shells, dirt, concrete, and more. Resource recovery is not only good for the environment, but it also reduces disposal costs. Waste Management tripled the amount of hard plastics in four months. That’s material that could have ended up being landfilled instead of recycled. Resource Recovery is a good, responsible option for disposing of these materials. Virginia Beach Waste Management worked with VBTV to develop a video on Resource Recovery that aired on the station and is available online on Waste Management’s recently updated website, Additional marketing and promotion is planned.

This blog post submitted by Linda S. Minner, APR, City of Virginia Beach Recycling Coordinator and John C. Barnes, City of Virginia Beach Waste Management Administrator.


Posted in: Reduce reuse and recycle

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Local Facilities Receive Awards for Clean Water

Posted on August 1, 2014 by | Comments Off

Over fertilizing harms our waterwaysTwo local facilities, Newport News Solid Waste Disposal Facility and Harwood’s Mill Water Treatment Plant (Newport News Waterworks), recently received awards from HRSD for keeping local waterways clean. The Platinum Award, given to Harwood’s Mill Water Treatment Plant, recognizes facilities that complete five straight years of perfect compliance on their wastewater discharge permits. The Platinum Achievement Award, given to Newport News Solid Waste Disposal Facility, recognizes facilities that complete more than five straight years of perfect compliance on their wastewater discharge permits.

Any industrial operation that plans to pump wastewater into a local waterway must have a wastewater discharge permit. The permits contain specific water quality standards that keep local waterways safe. Water quality standards not only protect people, but also the aquatic habitat of fish, crabs and other marine life, too!

See which other local operations and facilities were honored for their commitment to clean and healthy waterways by clicking here to view a complete list of this year’s award winners.

Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, Waterways

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Milk Paint: Be Green Indoors!

Posted on July 31, 2014 by | Comments (1)

It’s easy to forget about our indoor environment when we are trying to be green, but did you know that the indoor air in an average home is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air?  Given the amount of time we all spend indoors, I am always looking for ways to reduce the amount of chemicals in my house; however, there is nothing like preparing for a new baby to make you detoxify your home.  My desire to buy eco-friendly products goes into overdrive with the thought of a new little human in the house.  Not only do I want to support ethically and environmentally responsible companies, but I want to make sure the products I buy will pose as little risk to human health as possible.  And with a new baby comes lots of new product purchases!

When I found out I was pregnant with our second child, I decided to make the nursery as non-toxic as it could be.  Sounds easy, right?  Wrong!  It actually required a ton of online research to figure out exactly what I should avoid.  Did I mention I was also on a tight budget?  Sometimes buying a better product means spending more money, so I had to prioritize and figure out what changes I could afford to make.  One of the things I decided to reduce in the nursery were VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).  VOCs are chemicals that slowly evaporate, or off-gas, compromising the indoor air quality of your home.  According to the EPA, health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system, and some are suspected or known to cause cancer in animals, including humans. Unfortunately, we live in a chemical world and lots of household products contain VOCs.  I wanted to paint both a crib and dresser for the new baby and avoiding VOCs in my painting projects was an easy change to make.  Plus, pregnant women are advised to limit exposure to latex paint fumes anyways, so I wasn’t about to do any painting unless I could find an alternative. 

I could have opted for a low-VOC or zero-VOC latex paint, which would avoid most (but not all) of the harmful vapors – but there is something even better.  Enter milk paint!  Milk paint has been around a very long time, you can even make it yourself because the ingredients are so basic.  It’s typically made with (you guessed it) milk protein, limestone, clay, chalk, iron oxides for color, and absolutely no VOCs.  It’s often used when going for a vintage or distressed look on furniture, but you can use it for just about any job you can think of.  I wasn’t going for a distressed look, but I did want something environmentally friendly, so I decided to give it a try. 

I wanted a light aqua color for the crib and a happy yellow color for the dresser, and I found the perfect palette with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint from a local retailer in Virginia Beach, Miss Flibbertigibbet.  The crib was unfinished beech wood so it was ready to paint, but the dresser was a used purchase that was already painted white.  Another reason milk paint is so great – you don’t need to strip old paint or sand it before putting on new paint!  You can add a bonding agent to your milk paint and slap it right on there.  It makes updating or upcycling projects even easier.  Milk paint comes in powder form and you mix it with water when you are ready to use it, so there is a little bit of a learning curve.  For example, you need to make sure it is mixed well or you will end up with chunks at the bottom of your cup that will put streaks in your finished project (lesson learned), but once mixed correctly it’s just like using regular paint.   You also need to use a top coat with milk paint  – I opted for hemp seed oil on the crib, and a combination of hemp seed oil and furniture wax on the dresser.  These top coats are much more environmentally friendly than a laquer (again, think off-gassing), but still protect the paint and give it a nice sheen. Check out the photos of my finished products!

The finished dresser painted in "Mustard Seed Yellow" mixed with a little "Ironstone" to lighten it up a bit.

The finished dresser painted in “Mustard Seed Yellow” mixed with a little “Ironstone” to lighten it up a bit.


The finished crib painted in "Eulalie's Sky".

The finished crib painted in “Eulalie’s Sky”.


My other "finished product", Cora with big sister Madelyn.

My other “finished product”, Cora with big sister Madelyn.

Another reason I love milk paint is storage and disposal.  Paints are normally classified as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), and should be disposed of at HHW disposal facility, due to all of the chemicals present.  You can’t pour it down the drain or put it out with your trash.  Pouring it down a household drain will send it to a HRSD wastewater treatment plant, which is not designed to remove many of the chemicals in paint and other household products.  Milk paint, on the other hand, has an infinite shelf life when left in its powder form, so whatever you don’t use can be sealed back up for the next project and you don’t need to worry about it creating a hazardous storage area in your garage.  Once you have mixed the paint with water, any leftovers can go out with your trash.

I hope this encourages you to green your own indoor space.  Don’t be afraid to give milk paint a try, and remember to always dispose of household chemicals properly.

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

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