I’m reminded of a Beatles song this morning…”I read the news today, oh boy!”
And, oh boy, the news is not good. Business Insider reports that bottled water sales have now surpassed the sale of carbonated soft drinks. Now that’s great for our country’s health and our collective waistlines but it’s oh so bad for our environment. Bottled water consumption grew by 9 percent to 12.8 billion gallons in 2016. The most frustrating part of the bottled water trend might be the fact that half of bottled water is not from a mountain spring in a pristine forest somewhere in the Pacific Northwest or a remote tropical island. Nope. Bottled water is often regular municipal tap water, pumped through a filter and into a bottle at 2,000 times the cost of filling up a reusable bottle. Bottled water is even produced in drought-plagued areas of our country contributing to local water crises in places like California and Maine. Other baffling facts surrounding the bottled water trend include:
Bottled water is not held to the same quality standards as municipal tap water. Municipal tap water is constantly monitored by a local lab with standards set through the EPA. Bottled water has only moderate monitoring standards set through the FDA . For example, coliform bacteria testing is done once per week for bottled water and more than 100 times per month for municipal tap water.
It takes three times the amount of water to produce a plastic water bottle than it does to fill it. That’s 36 ounces of water used per 12 ounce bottle of water.
An estimated 17 million barrels of oil are consumed each year to produce and transport bottled water. That’s enough to power 1 million cars for a year!
22 billion water bottles end up in landfills each year and will take hundreds of years to decompose.
You can refill a 20 ounce refillable water bottle at any tap in Hampton Roads 1,500 times for the same cost as a single container of bottled water.
So don’t be a sucker. Don’t fall prey to the hype. Instead, pick up a reusable water bottle to fill with tap water to make a healthy choice for your body and our environment.
To learn even more about the true cost of bottled water, check out the documentary Tapped.
Hampton Roads volunteers will be out in full force working across the region to pick up roadside litter, clean up beaches and shorelines, improve community parks and more. The 2017 Great American Cleanup™ is underway, now through June, and residents can find a list of planned community projects, or find out how to start their own, by checking out this regional list of happenings.
Cared for communities tend to be safe, desirable places with great curb appeal. But participating in a Great American Cleanup event is about so much more than protecting neighborhood property values. It’s also important for protecting our region’s rich natural resources, booming tourism industry and overall quality of life.
Spearheaded by Keep America Beautiful, the Great American Cleanup is the country’s largest community improvement program. Litter cleanups and recycling events typically top the list of activities led by local Keep America Beautiful affiliates, but there’s also a focus on individual neighborhoods. The “Clean Your Block” theme promotes not only clean communities, but also community engagement, pride and stewardship – behaviors that lead to lasting, positive block-by-block impacts nationwide. Citizens are encouraged to organize a beautification or cleanup project in their neighborhood and celebrate their hard work with a block party once that project is completed. It’s a great way to see neighbors, meet new friends and understand how we’re all connected to the region.
And while neighbors are bonding and strengthening their sense of community pride, the region’s natural resources are gaining the long-term benefits of cleaner communities. In 2016, nearly 4,500 volunteers across five cities and counties recovered over 100 tons of trash from over 400 sites. And that’s just a fraction of the real impact when the work done by all 17 cities and counties is taken into consideration.
Organizing a clean up or beautification event for your business, office or neighborhood is the perfect way to create safer, more beautiful spaces for both man and animal. Get involved and learn how to organize your own “Clean Your Block” project for the Great American Cleanup!
Did you know that an old or broken safety seat could be putting a child in danger?
Car seats that are over 8 years old, expired, purchased secondhand or involved in a car accident all pose safety risks for young children. Unknown wear and tear or other damage to these car seats makes them less effective in protecting your most precious cargo. To help keep our young children as safe as possible, Drive Safe Hampton Roads, along with Walmart, AAA Tidewater Virginia, DMV: Virginia Highway Safety Office, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, WVEC Channel 13, Hoffman Beverage, and Waste Management of Virginia, Inc. have teamed up to conduct the 28th Annual Old, Used, Borrowed and Abused Child Safety Seat Round-Up. During the month of February, the public is invited to bring old, used or abused car seats to a participating drop-off location for a $5 reward and the good feeling of knowing that you are helping keep kids safe while protecting the environment.
If you have any questions about the Round-Up or traffic safety issues, please call 757-498-2562 or email email@example.com.
A naturally grown wreath or Christmas tree is the perfect backdrop for the holiday season. Sadly, your fresh pine decor doesn’t stay fresh forever. When the needles start browning and dropping, give some thought into how you will get rid of your naturally-grown decor. There are many easy ways you can reuse your natural decorations. Your pine decor can be used to “spruce” up your yard (pun intended) with borders and mulch, or become a piece of backyard habitat for wintering birds and cuddly critters. If you prefer an easy alternative, simply find out how and when your city or county will accept Christmas trees for collection. In most cases, naturally-grown Christmas trees and wreaths collected by your locality are mulched or composted to reduce landfill contributions. The mulch or compost material created from the trees is a low cost way for your city or county to maintain parks and shared green spaces right in your community. Some localities are even able to sell excess mulch or compost back to the public. Talk about buying local…your spring mulch could be made from your Christmas tree!
But before you send off your Christmas tree or wreath, remember to remove all lights, tree stands and decorations including tinsel, ornaments and wires. Painted trees or those that are flocked (aka covered in fake snow) can’t be recycled either. Only the natural parts of your trees and wreaths can be accepted for mulching and composting.
And don’t forget! Christmas lights and most decorations do NOT belong in your curbside recycling container. Consider donating unwanted but working ornaments and decorations to a local school or secondhand store instead. For a complete list of materials you should be recycling at home this holiday season, you can review this handy holiday recycling guide.
So now that you know its time to make sure all of our holiday waste ends up in the proper place this year! Happy Holidays from askHRgreen.org!
As of this date, the following cities and counties have announced their natural Christmas tree recycling/pick-up schedules.
Where: Trees will be picked up on the regular trash collection day. Trees placed at the curb between January 3 and 13 will be recycled.
What to know: Remove all ornaments, tinsel and the stand. Place it separately from bulk waste and regular trash so it can be easily collected. Please do not put in a bag or put netting around it.
Where: Residents may place Christmas trees in the brush container at any Gloucester County Convenience Center during regular hours. See the list below for locations.
Middle Peninsula Landfill and Recycling Center – 3714 Waste Management Way (Entrance on Route 17). The Convenience Center at the Landfill operates on the same schedule as the other County Convenience Centers: Monday – Friday 8 AM to 7 PM and Saturday 7 AM to 7 PM.
Belroi – 5122 Hickory Ford Road
Dutton – 10430 Burke’s Pond Road
Court House – 6550 Beehive Drive
Hayes – 7599 Guinea Road
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be mulched along with other yard debris. Mulch is provided free of charge to county residents from the main landfill location. However, residents are strongly encouraged to call ahead to ensure mulch is available for pickup.
Where: Trees will be picked up at curbside on regular trash collection day. Residents can also bring naturally grown trees to be recycled at the Yard Waste Transfer Site, 100 N. Park Lane (off Big Bethel Road at entrance to Bethel Landfill) from 8 AM to 3 PM. Monday – Saturday (closed city holidays).
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Place natural trees separate from bulk waste and regular trash. Do not put in a bag or put netting around it. Artificial trees should not be placed with leaves, grass or tree branches. Trees will be mulched or composted at the VPPSA Composting Facility. Mulch and compost are available for purchase by the public at the composting facility.
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be composted.
James City County
Information coming soon
Where:Natural trees are recyclable as regular brush, and may be placed on the curb as brush collection.
What to know:Please remove the root ball and any non-natural decorations including tinsel and lights. Place tree in a brush pile separate from any bulk being set out.Christmas trees (live or artificial) may also be brought to the Recovery Operations Center located at 550 Atkinson Way. Trees will be composted or mulched.
Where: Natural trees are collected for composting on regular trash day as part of Norfolk’s yard waste collection service. In addition, residents can bring natural trees, holiday lights and artificial trees to the City’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center – 1176 Pineridge Road, Monday through Saturday, 10 AM – 2 PM. Artificial trees may also be scheduled for bulk waste collection by calling the Norfolk Cares IMPACT Center at (757) 664-6510, or by completing a request online at www.norfolk.gov/BulkWasteForm
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights.
When: Dec. 25–Jan. 20
Where: Residents can drop off natural trees to be composted at the Municipal Pool Parking Lot (16 Municipal Drive, Poquoson)
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Trees will be mulched or composted at the VPPSA Composting Facility. Christmas trees and yard waste are accepted year-round at the VPPSA Compost Facility (located at 145 Goodwin Neck Road, York County), Monday – Saturday, 8 AM – 4 PM. Mulch and compost are available for purchase by the public at the composting facility.
Information coming soon
When: Through Jan. 12
What to know: You must contact Kathy Bew-Jones at 365-4200 or firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your address if you have a Christmas tree to be picked up. Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, garland and lights. Trees will be composted.
Information coming soon
When:Jan. 1-Jan. 31
Where: Surry County Collection Centers (listed below)
Goodson Path Solid Waste Station – 409 Goodson Path, Dendron
Pineview Solid Waste Station – 101 Pineview Road, Waverly
Mantura Road Solid Waste Station – 60 Mantura Road, Surry
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel and lights. Please ask attendants for assistance to ensure that your tree is placed in the designated container.
What to know: Christmas trees will be handled as normal yard debris and need to be free of any decorations or tinsel. All trees and yard debris will be mulched.
When: Jan. 3 and Jan. 9
What to know: The City Crews will be collecting Christmas trees on Tuesday, January 3 and Monday, January 9. Trees must be placed at the curb before 7 AM and should be free of the stand, ornaments and lights. Please place separately from bulk waste and regular trash. Trees will be mulched.
When: Jan. 2-Jan. 6
Where: Curbside – tree must be at curb by 7 AM on January 4 for collection that week
What to know: Tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, lights and should be no bigger than six feet in length. For all York County residents, including non-subscribers, Christmas trees are accepted throughout January at the VPPSA Compost Facility (located at 145 Goodwin Neck Road, York County), Monday – Saturday, 8 AM – 4 PM. York County residents who subscribe to the trash program may bring yard waste to the VPPSA Compost Facility year-round.
For many Americans reducing, reusing, and recycling is as far from their thoughts as starting a holiday diet. With very little effort and a few tips you can trim down your holiday waste.
Reusable Bags - Don’t have one of those fancy store bought totes? No worries! Grab any reusable bag, even that beach tote you retired for the winter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. So as you can see, any bag is better than a plastic bag!
Recycle While You Cook - Make food prep a snap by keeping a recycling bin nearby. Recycling while you cook is easier than you think. Tin and steel cans, clean aluminum foil and pie pans, glass bottles and jars, cardboard, clean mixed paper and in some cities you can now recycle cartons too. Not sure what is accepted? Check out your city’s waste management website.
Dust Off the Fine China - Pull out grandma’s china and linens and treat your guest to a holiday meal that they will remember. Using what you have or even borrowing items eliminates disposable plates, drinkware, utensils, and napkins from going into the landfill.
Grab a Growler - It’s no secret that Hampton Roads has amazing breweries as well as growler filling stations available. Opting for growlers over bottles and cans will aid you in your quest to be greener this holiday. Growlers reduce the need to buy cans and bottles and can be repurposed to hold other refreshments such as water and sweet tea.
BYOC - Inviting guests? Have plans to be a guest? BYOC, otherwise known as “Bring Your Own Container”, to reduce your carbon footprint and be more eco-friendly by preventing the use of plastic storage containers, plastic wrap, and other single use plastics this holiday season.
With a little pre-planning and consideration for doing the right thing you can make small changes that produce big results.
Guest blog contributed by Kristi Rines, Recycling Coordinator for the City of Virginia Beach.