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Local Students Take the Carton Challenge

Posted on December 7, 2017 by | Comments (0)

IMG_2854To celebrate America Recycles Day in November, students in participating third grade classrooms in Norfolk Public Schools went head-to-head in the Carton Collection Challenge. Students were challenged by Keep Norfolk Beautiful to collect milk and juice cartons over a two week period and were competing with one another for prizes. The first, second and third place winners received their awards this past Monday. Megan Hale, Public Service Coordinator with Keep Norfolk Beautiful reported “we are so proud of the students and their efforts to recycle more.”

IMG_2847Megan tells us that the winning classroom collected over 1,800 cartons and received a $100 Visa gift card plus a pizza party! Students also had a chance to meet the Recycling Rockstar and the recycling truck driver who carries their recyclables to the materials recovery facility (MRF). The kids even got to toss all their collected cartons into the recycling truck!

The Carton Collection Challenge was made possible through a partnership between Keep Norfolk Beautiful, Recycling Perks and TFC Recycling.

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Posted in: For educators, Reduce reuse and recycle

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From Used To Useful: The Ultimate Form of Recycling

Posted on November 14, 2017 by | Comments Off

Most people think what ends up at a wastewater treatment plant is exactly that – waste. Something that is worthless. Now, I admit it is smelly and gross. I’ve stood at the headworks of one of our larger plants, the place where sewage first enters to be treated and where big bar screens trap and filter out all of the large pieces of trash that somehow got down into the sewers. It’s not pretty. I may or may not have gagged. So when I say it’s smelly and gross, I speak from personal experience. How could anything useful come out of that? There is nothing left to be reused or recycled, right? Wrong.

When I talk about wastewater, AKA sewage, I’m not just talking about your toilet flushes. Sinks, showers, washing machines, dishwashers, restaurants, and other businesses all drain to the sanitary sewer system, which is a collection of pipes and pumps that send all that dirty water to our wastewater treatment plants to be cleaned.  And all that dirty water adds up to about 150 million gallons a day. Still sounds like “waste,” I know, but it’s actually full of resources and resources can be reused as long as they can be recovered. That’s why wastewater treatment plants across the country are being renamed for what they actually are – resource recovery facilities.  It’s not just about treating dirty water; it’s about REUSING and RECYCLING. Here are a few ways HRSD is recovering resources:

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Environmentally-friendly fertilizer made with phosphorous that used to be inside a sewage pipe.

1.  Nutrients – HRSD partners with Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies to recover phosphorous from sewage and turn it into an environmentally-friendly commercial fertilizer right here in Suffolk. It’s called Crystal Green® and its slow-release formula reduces fertilizer runoff as an added bonus. But it gets even better. Crystal Green® is made from struvite, a concrete-like material that builds up on the inside of sewage pipes and causes clogs. Not only are we reducing nutrients going into our waterways by removing them from the wastewater, but we’re creating something useful from something that is normally a big and costly pain-in–the-you-know-what.

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HRSD’s Combined Heat & Power System uses 100% of the gas produced; previously, more than half the gas was wasted.

2.  Energy – In Virginia Beach, HRSD’s Atlantic Treatment Plant Combined Heat and Power System generates renewable power and heat from gas produced during the plant’s treatment process. This system meets about half of the plant’s electricity demand and produces enough electricity to power 1,200 homes for a year. And P.S., cleaned water at this plant is sent into the Atlantic Ocean about 1.5 miles offshore, but a portion of it is routed through heat exchangers at the Dam Neck Naval Facility to provide energy-efficient building heating and cooling.

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HRSD’s highly treated water passes through the Carbon-Based Advanced Water Treatment step at the SWIFT Pilot facility.

3.  Water– The wastewater that flows to our plants every day is treated and then the cleaned water is sent into local waterways to be reused in the environment. But we decided we could do better than that. HRSD’s Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow (SWIFT) will take highly treated water that would otherwise be discharged into local rivers and put it through additional rounds of advanced water treatment to meet drinking water quality standards. The SWIFT Water will then be added to the Potomac Aquifer, the primary source of groundwater throughout eastern Virginia. This will not only replenish our dwindling groundwater supply, but help the Bay by reducing the nutrients we currently discharge into local rivers, and help fight the impacts of sea level rise. Our SWIFT Research Center is currently under construction and you can check swiftva.com for updates and to learn more.

This might sound like resource recovery to the extreme, but ideas and technologies like these are being implemented all over the world as more communities seek forward-looking solutions. You can also turn your home into a resource recovery facility (and it’s way easier than what HRSD is doing!). Take the #BeRecycled pledge for America Recycles Day on November 15th and pledge to:

  1. Learn – Find out what materials are collected in your community.
  2. Act – Reduce the amount of waste you produce, recycle more, and buy materials made with recycled content.
  3. Share – Encourage others to take the #BeRecycled pledge.

Compost Grown

I have plants growing out of my compost bin – I guess that means it’s working!

This year I’m recovering resources by composting my kitchen scraps and yard waste. All of those leaves littering my backyard right now will be put to use fertilizing my garden beds in the spring. Check out the photo I took this week of my compost bin – it can’t wait to get started! 

 

 

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

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America Recycles Day 2017

Posted on October 23, 2017 by | Comments Off

askHRgreen-American-Recycles-Day-homepageslider-11112016November 15th is America Recycles Day, the only nationally-recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the U.S. It’s our hope that celebrating recycling and all the wonderful things it does for our region will inspire residents to recycle more, trash less all year long. In honor of America Recycles Day, there are a variety of outreach and recycling collection events across Hampton Roads in the month of November. 

For more details about the America Recycles Day event nearest you, please check out the listing below.


Chesapeake

Who: Open to the public
What: 
Chesapeake Recycles Day
Where: Tidewater Community College
Date: November 18, 2017
Time: 9am-noon 
What to bring: Electronics (no TVs, please), clothing, household items, household hazardous waste, paper & sensitive documents, plastic bags as well as general recyclables - for complete details click here

Hampton

Who: Open to residents only of Hampton, James City County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County; proof of residency may be required
What: 
VPPSA Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling
Where: Cooper Elementary School – 200 Marcella Road, Hampton
Date: November 18, 2017
Time: 8am-noon 
What to bring: 
Electronics (no TVs, please) and household hazardous waste - view complete event information at VPPSA online

Isle of Wight County

Check back later for details!

James City County

Who: Open to the public
What: 
4th Annual Litter & Recycling Expo
Where: Jolly Pond Convenience Center – 1204 Jolly Pond Road, Williamsburg
Date: November 4, 2017
Time: 11am to 2pm

Who: Open to residents only of Hampton, James City County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County; proof of residency may be required
What: 
VPPSA Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling
Where: County Drive, Yorktown (off Goodwin Neck Rd)
Date: November 11, 2017
Time: 8am-noon 
What to bring: 
Electronics (no TVs, please) and household hazardous waste - view complete event information at VPPSA online

Newport News

Who: Newport News residents only
What: 
Bulk Recycling of Cardboard & Residential Recyclables
Where:  Recovery Operations Center – 330 Atkinson Way
Date: Year-round, Monday through Saturday (excluding city observed holidays)
Time: 8am-4pm
What to bring: Residential recyclables and bulk cardboard. Electronics and household hazardous waste collected only on Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 886-7947

Who: Newport News residents only
What: 
Residential Recycling Drop-Off Sites
Where:  Hidenwood Fire Station (12455 Warwick Blvd), Fire Station #4 (13561 Jefferson Ave), Brairfield Fire Station #7 (5844 Marshall Ave), Main Street Library (110 Main St), Oyster Point Fire Station #6 (685 Oyster Point Rd)
Date: Year-round
What to bring: Residential recyclables and bulk cardboard. For more information, call 886-7947

Norfolk

Who: Open to the public (Proof of Norfolk residency needed only for electronics and household hazardous waste)
What: 
America Recycles Day
Where: 
Norfolk Waste Management Facility – 1176 Pineridge Road
Date: 
November 18, 2017
Time: 
9am-noon 
What to bring: 
unwanted clothing and décor, electronics, household hazardous waste, general recyclables, documents for secure shredding, and more! For complete details view the event flyer

Poquoson

Who: Open to residents only of Hampton, James City County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County; proof of residency may be required
What: 
VPPSA Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling
Where: County Drive, Yorktown (off Goodwin Neck Rd)
Date: November 11, 2017
Time: 8am-noon 
What to bring: 
Electronics (no TVs, please) and household hazardous waste - view complete event information at VPPSA online

Who: Open to residents only of Hampton, James City County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County; proof of residency may be required
What: 
VPPSA Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling
Where: Cooper Elementary School – 200 Marcella Road, Hampton
Date: November 18, 2017
Time: 8am-noon 
What to bring: 
Electronics (no TVs, please) and household hazardous waste - view complete event information at VPPSA online

Portsmouth

Who: Open to the public
What: 
Portsmouth Fall Recycling Day
Where: I.C. Norcom High School - 1801 London Blvd
Date: November 18, 2017
Time: 9am-noon 
What to bring: 
Electronics (no TVs, please), household hazardous waste, documents for shredding and canned goods for donation. For more information please call 757-393-8663.

Suffolk

Who: Open to the public
What: 
Bottle Top Collection Program
Where: Various drop off sites throughout the city including all Suffolk Public Library locations, East Suffolk Recreation Center, Whaleyville Community Center and The Suffolk Art Gallery.
What to bring: Bottle tops that have been rinsed clean. Once enough tops are collected a 4′x8′ collage will be created to raise awareness about recycling and the dangers bottle tops pose to wildlife when they are littered. For more information, contact the Litter Control Coordinator at littercontrol@suffolkva.us

Virginia Beach

Who: Virginia Beach residents only
What: 
Virginia Beach Residential Recycling Program
Where: Virginia Beach Landfill & Resource Recovery Center - 1989 Jake Sears Road
Date: Year-round, Tuesday through Saturday (excluding city observed holidays)
Time: 7am-4:30pm 
What to bring: 
electronics, metals, household hazardous waste, small household items, clothing/shoes, oyster/clam shells and more - for complete details visit www.vbgov.com/landfill

Williamsburg

Who: Open to residents only of Hampton, James City County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County; proof of residency may be required
What: 
VPPSA Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling
Where: County Drive, Yorktown (off Goodwin Neck Rd)
Date: November 11, 2017
Time: 8am-noon 
What to bring: 
Electronics (no TVs, please) and household hazardous waste - view complete event information at VPPSA online

York County

Who: Open to residents only of Hampton, James City County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County; proof of residency may be required
What: 
VPPSA Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling
Where: County Drive, Yorktown (off Goodwin Neck Rd)
Date: November 11, 2017
Time: 8am-noon 
What to bring: 
Electronics (no TVs, please) and household hazardous waste - view complete event information at VPPSA online

Who: Open to residents only of Hampton, James City County, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County; proof of residency may be required
What: 
VPPSA Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling
Where: Cooper Elementary School – 200 Marcella Road, Hampton
Date: November 18, 2017
Time: 8am-noon 
What to bring: 
Electronics (no TVs, please) and household hazardous waste - view complete event information at VPPSA online

Posted in: Community events, Reduce reuse and recycle

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Suffolk School Takes Recycling Beyond The Bin

Posted on June 30, 2017 by | Comments Off

The Recycling Club at John Yeates Middle School in Suffolk is impressive to say the least. The club formed in the fall of 2016 when the school received an askHRgreen.org environmental education mini grant to start a recycling program. Made up of 12 students, with guidance from teachers, Ms. Sabrina Hayes and Ms. Lauren Rubash, they have been busy rolling out and managing the school’s recycling program. They have also given a recycling presentation to a manager at a local fast food chain that isn’t currently recycling, they’ve raised funds for their program, and now they are managing and maintaining a school garden complete with compost area and a rain barrel. Assistant Principal Dr. Wendy Van Housen has been instrumental in all of these activities, including applying for the mini grant. For her leadership and efforts, Dr. Van Housen won the askHRgreen Environmental Action Award back in February. As the Regional Recycling and Beautification Committee representative for Suffolk, I stopped by the school to see the newly-installed garden and catch up with Dr. Van Housen as the students are out on summer break.

JohnYeatesBefore&AfterDr. Van Housen and the school principal, Dr. Shawn Green, led me to their beautiful new courtyard garden. It was very impressive, and when Dr. Van Housen showed me how it looked before the makeover, I was curious to know how they did such a wonderful job in the middle of a busy school semester. 

As part of the school’s Earth Day (week) celebrations, Dr. Van Housen reached out to two businesses known for their community involvement, Lowes and Smuckers. She asked them for help with rejuvenating their school courtyard which she referred to as, “an eyesore.” The manager of Lowes, Steve Poole, agreed to help with the project by supplying tools and lending 12 employees. In addition, they supplied 400 bags of soil, 300 bags of mulch, and 200 bags of marble rock. More than 30 planks of wood were cut to build benches and lay the foundation for a rock path. Smuckers manager, Keith Hightower, also agreed to help and organized 9 employees to join the effort and contributed Chick-fil-A lunches for everyone involved. It took only two days to turn the courtyard around, installing three raised beds, a variety of benches, and a composting area. A remarkable team effort! 

JohnBYeates4Now that it’s built, The Recycling Club is managing and maintaining it. They are already harvesting cucumbers with peppers, carrots, and tomatoes on the way. Over the course of the summer, some of the teachers and supporting staff will help with maintenance until the students return. Dr. Van Housen told me how the cooking teacher had already visited the garden to teach the students about fresh food and in the new school year, there will be plenty of opportunities for other teachers to use the garden as a learning experience. Next year, they are planning to begin composting, install their rain barrel, and paint the benches with their school colors.

JohnYeatesAfterIt is amazing to think that a year ago the school did not have a recycling program or a recycling club and now they are looking to harvest rain water and begin composting. Before I left, I asked Dr. Van Housen if everybody at the school was recycling to which she replied, “Many students are recycling but not everybody just yet; however, everybody is aware of recycling. The school is making progress and we are excited to encourage our students to think about their environmental impact.”

 Blog post contributed by Wayne Jones, Litter Control Coordinator with the City of Suffolk.

Posted in: For educators, Gardening, Going Green, Lawn and landscape, Reduce reuse and recycle, Uncategorized, Using water wisely

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askHRgreen.org Hits the Streets with “Write as Rain” Campaign

Posted on April 18, 2017 by | Comments Off

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Launched this week (just in time for Earth Day) on sidewalks, streetscapes and thoroughfares throughout Hampton Roads, the motivational campaign will reveal a bevy of good-to-know “green” messages that become visible when wet.  

With the approval of local municipalities, askHRgreen.org committee members blanketed the region using custom-made stencils and an eco-friendly rain-resistant spray to adhere their messages to sidewalks in locations where residents gather. When it becomes wet, the surface around the message darkens while the stenciled area stays dry and light. The messages carry such sayings as: Only Rain Down the Storm Drain; No Wipes in Our Pipes; Your Morning Shower Starts with Tap Water; and Cigarette Butts are Litter, Too. There are 12 different messages in all!

Why “Write as Rain?”
The goal of the campaign is to inspire people to think about our Hampton Roads environment in ways they haven’t before. What’s more unexpected than a magically appearing message written with rain?

Grab your umbrella and head outside to enjoy the next rainy day in Hampton Roads and look for messages in Chesapeake, Hampton, Isle of Wight County, James City County, Newport News, Portsmouth, Smithfield, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, York County, and more locations. Find a message near you using our interactive map below and check back often as new locations are added.

Whenever you find one of our hidden messages, don’t forget to snap a photo to share with us on social media #askHRgreen.  

Posted in: Clean and safe tap water, Community events, Don't litter!, Fats, oils and grease disposal, Going Green, HR Green campaign updates, Keeping storm drains free, Reduce reuse and recycle, Waterways

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