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Make Approaching Holidays Easy on the Environment

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Make Approaching Holidays Easy on the Environment Turn-of-the-season tips from

(Hampton Roads, Nov. 17, 2014) — As fall turns into winter, turns its thoughts to hearth, home and how to make the approaching holiday season easy on the environment. To follow are some helpful reminders to sustain you from Thanksgiving through the New Year and beyond.

  • Make a good first impression. With company coming, you’ll want to have a tidy yard so be sure to collect your leaves and deposit them at the curb for municipal pick up. Leaves should never be raked or blown into the storm drain, which can cause street flooding. Once the leaves enter the storm drain and begin to decay, they also release nutrients that contribute to excess algae growth in waterways.
  • Keep a fat-free drain. All that turkey—all those trimmings! Holiday cooking can leave behind a big fat mess. Make sure to keep leftover foods out of the kitchen drain and garbage disposal to avoid a back-up in your sink. For proper disposal, throw food scraps in the trash or compost them, and use a paper towel to wipe your dirty dishes before washing. As for standing grease or cooking oil, pour it in a heat-safe can, pop it in the freezer to harden and toss the can out with the trash.
  • Recycle more, trash less. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of household garbage in the United States can increase by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. We’re not just talking trash here; a lot of what ends up in the garbage may be recyclable. Check your city/county website to find out what’s recyclable in your community. Then fill your recycling container to the brim or set aside a box to take accepted items to a drop-off recycling center near you.
  • Be a good guest. People so enjoy visiting friends and family over the holidays, which can put your host’s lavatory into overdrive. Our apologies if this question seems impolite, but do you know what not to flush? The list includes: facial tissues, paper towels, baby/personal hygiene/all-purpose cleaning wipes (even if they are labeled “flushable”), cotton swabs, feminine hygiene products, cat litter, fats/oils/grease and table scraps from the kitchen. Don’t be the guest that causes a backed up commode or sewage overflow!
  • Deice Right. You know it’s coming at least once this winter—snow! When it does, remember that you should never use fertilizer as a deicer. When the snow or ice melts, the fertilizer runs off into the storm drains and continues its journey to our local waterways. Try a no-chemical approach by pouring a solution of warm water and table salt on small areas of thin ice, or use sand to improve traction on slippery surfaces. The chemical deicer that is the least harmful to the environment is magnesium chloride. Apply it before snow falls to prevent ice from forming and only use the recommended amount.
  • Resolve to Live Greener. While many will resolve to shed a few pounds, find a new job or get organized in the year ahead, there is one resolution that is easy to achieve—to live greener in 2015. For inspiration, visit for ideas on how to be a conscientious environmental steward throughout the year, every year.

For more information about all things green in Hampton Roads, visit

About is your go-to resource for all things green in Hampton Roads— from recycling tips and pointers for keeping local waterways clean to water-saving ideas and simple steps to make local living easy on the environment. Launched in 2011, the region-wide public awareness and education campaign is administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and powered by the following members: The cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg; the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry and York; and HRSD. Like on facebook, follow on Twitter, tune in to YouTube and catch the “Let’s Talk Green” blog, written by a team of local experts.