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Reduce – Reuse – Recycle The Order Matters

Posted on July 28, 2016 by | Comments Off

ToteBagEveryone has heard the classic conservation motto: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Most however, do not put much thought into the fact that the three R’s are listed in that particular order for a reason.

Reduce – The first “R” can make the largest, most positive impact on the environment. If we reduce what we use, the energy, water, and resources that normally would go into making the product would never be expended. The thought process is to cut back on what we purchase and use only what is needed. For example, using a refillable water bottle and refilling it with tap water, instead of purchasing bottled water, reduces one’s carbon footprint and impact on the environment, in both the resources and energy used to make and fill the plastic bottle. To produce one unit of bottled water requires nearly three times the amount of water to create the plastic bottle, cap, and label! Besides avoiding bottle water where possible, we can also reduce our environmental impact by using double-sided printing, purchasing items that are built to last and electronics that will use less energy.

Reuse – The second “R” is still better than recycling because you are re-purposing an item for another use without consuming significantly more resources. Pinterest fans have unlimited access to reuse projects as simple as repurposing toilet paper rolls into binoculars for kids or using old pallets to create a table and chairs. There are entire websites dedicated to repurposing or upcycling. You can also purchase repurposed materials from sites such as Etsy. Get inspired at the Pinterest page!

Recycle – This is the costlier option of the three “R’s” and is tricky in regards to educating people on how to recycle materials. For instance, in Hampton Roads, only #1 and #2 plastic bottles with a neck or spout are recyclable in all curbside bins. A lot of products we use every day are packaged in #5 and #7 plastics or plastic tubs that are only recyclable in certain recycling programs. Drop off recycling sites must be used to recycle items such as batteries, plastic bags, electronics, ink cartridges, and even textiles. Recycling is important in keeping materials out of the landfill and in reducing the need for raw materials. To find out what can go in your curbside recycling bin and what to take for drop off recycling, visit  the Recycling Information by Locality page of askHRgreen.But it’s always better to create less waste in the first place! 

Guest blog contributed by Christel Dyer, Senior Plant Manager with HRSD.

Posted in: Reduce reuse and recycle

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Volunteers Make Helping Hands Cleanup a Success

Posted on July 21, 2016 by | Comments Off

Helping HandsThe Virginia Beach Clean Community Commission (VBCCC), with support from the City of Virginia Beach Public Works Waste Management, completed its third Helping Hands project of the season on Saturday, June 11. The Helping Hands Program freely provides one-time assistance to residents who are physically and financially unable to perform outside yard maintenance themselves.

VBCCC Chair (and team member) Dan Baxter and Vice-Chair Larry Banks worked with 50 volunteers including numerous military groups on the yard beautification. They mowed the lawn, trimmed branches, and removed yard debris and miscellaneous items for a resident in need. Even the Virginia Beach police officer who nominated the resident for Helping Hands brought out his family to help with the cleanup efforts. This incredible outpouring of community volunteers transformed the yard in just three hours. They filled a large yard debris container and over 70 bags of yard waste. This effort also amassed an impressive pile of bulky items for pick up.

Each year, volunteer groups are needed to assist with Helping Hands projects during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Talent or experience in landscaping or gardening is not required but appreciated. Most of these projects require a time commitment of less than four hours and can typically be done on a Saturday morning. If interested in lending a hand and helping a neighbor, call 385-3855 or visit

Blog contributed by Craig Simmons, Recycling Administrative Technician for the City of Virginia Beach.


Posted in: Beautification, Community events

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Top Green Remodeling Trends for 2016

Posted on July 18, 2016 by | Comments Off

Remodeling a home is about what homeowners can do to preserve resources and limit their environmental impact as well. Here are a few ways that homeowners are getting on board with eco-friendly building and installing new smarter, greener products throughout the home this year.

1Sustainable Flooring

Hardwood flooring materials often rely on unsustainably forested products, but eco-friendly woods, like bamboo and cork, can be harvested without completely razing the tree. Meanwhile, many homeowners are ditching wood floors entirely, opting instead for man-made products like concrete.

More Efficient Appliances

Becoming more energy-efficient and water-wise means purchasing and installing more efficient appliances that don’t hog water or suck up energy the way older models did. Some homeowners have switched to convection ovens, built directly into kitchen walls, and have installed glass cooktops in nearby counters and islands, instead of purchasing a conventional oven that throws off more heat. Smart washers claim to not only reduce water and energy consumption, but also cut washing time down as low as 15 minutes. Smart water heaters and smart thermostats are two other automated devices in the mix, both aimed specifically at reducing heating costs.

2Better Windows

Aluminum and wood used to be a homeowner go-to for window frames, but both of these materials can allow heating and air conditioning to escape, or conversely, let in drafts and hot wind from the outdoors. While many homeowners have already opted to install more efficient double-hung window frames, 2016 is the year of the total window overhaul—upgrades now include insulating vinyl frames, low-emissivity glass, and even more efficient treatments.

Switching to Solar Power

Solar power is particularly attractive rig ht now because prices are finally affordable for mainstream households. And as more residential solar installations go live, you can expect costs to drop even lower. In fact, solar may one day be the energy source of choice for most households, meaning that these green remodeling trends could be the tipping point that changes not just how our homes look and feel, but in how we use and generate energy, as well.

Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confid

Posted in: Going Green, Household tips

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Enter to Win Free Soil Testing!

Posted on July 8, 2016 by | Comments Off

Free-Soil-Testing-July16Become a Bay Star Home in July and Win!

During the month of July, any family that signs up to become a Bay Star Home will be automatically entered to win one of 75 free soil tests! Soil testing is the only way to know whether or not your lawn really needs chemical fertilizers. And when you accidentally apply unneeded fertilizer to your yard, you contribute to local water pollution. Also, as part of your pledge to become a Bay Star Home, you’ll receive a welcome packet that includes great tips from, local information from your city or county, and a garden flag or other gift in recognition of your commitment to a cleaner Hampton Roads. Get started now!

Posted in: Gardening, Lawn and landscape, Lawncare, Waterways

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Cigarette Litter Prevention – One Year Later

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It’s been one year since the Hampton Roads region began tackling cigarette litter using a consistent message and a proven project model developed by Keep America Beautiful. The “Cigarette Butts = Litter” campaign kicked off in June 2015 at seven diverse locations across Hampton Roads. During the project, local teams and volunteers analyzed their sites, installed cigarette waste receptacles in strategic locations and conducted outreach directly to smokers encouraging them to be mindful of their disposal habits and offering them a pocket ashtray or auto ashtray for the cup holder of their vehicle.  Last fall we were excited to report an average 74 percent reduction in cigarette litter at the seven project sites. Today we are again happy to report that our average reduction has stayed nearly the same for over six months since intensive outreach activities ended. The average reduction today is still 69 percent fewer cigarette butts on the ground than before the launch of this effort.

We hope the results of this project will inspire others in the community to fight back against cigarette litter using this proven project model from Keep America Beautiful. The model can be applied to any public space including businesses, parks, entertainment venues and attractions, college campuses and more! Let’s keep up the momentum! Learn more about the KAB Cigarette Litter Prevention program then check out the free Cigarette Butts = Litter outreach resources in the Online Media Toolkit!



Posted in: Beautification, Cigarette Litter, Don't litter!, HR Green campaign updates

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