Finally! Warmer days are fast approaching, and the changing season is the perfect time to brush up on your summer environmental etiquette. Here's a quick list of do's and don'ts to see you through the summer months. Miss Manners would approve!
- Pick up after your pet. Fido's deposits are filled with bacteria and nutrients that pollute our lakes, rivers and Bay. Scooping the poop protects these local waterways – and your flip flops!
- Don’t feed local waterfowl. Sure, it’s fun to take a stroll in the park and feed the ducks and geese, but just like Fido, these feathered friends contribute lots of nutrients and bacteria to area waterways. All Hampton Roads localities have at least one waterway that is impaired because of bacteria, so enjoy the birds from afar.
- Don't water the sidewalk. In fact, you probably don't need to water at all. Grass only needs about one inch of water per week to thrive. But when you have to water, adjust sprinklers so that water falls only within your lawn and garden. Watering the pavement sends pollutants into storm drains and runs up your water bill. Your neighborhood walkers and runners will thank you too.
- Go native! As you expand your landscaping this season, try adding some native plants. They are hardier and require less maintenance and water, which means you can kick back in the hammock and enjoy some lemonade!
- Keep your BBQ out of the sink. Who doesn't love a good summer barbeque? While you're enjoying this season of outdoor cooking, keep in mind that cooking grease and food scraps should never be rinsed into your drain. Built-up food and grease can cause sewer overflows into your home or neighborhood – blech!
- Pack a reusable picnic. Whether enjoying one of our many local or state parks or beaches, Hampton Roads has a plethora of places for the perfect picnic. Make certain yours is clean and green by packing your basket with reusable containers, cutlery and napkins. And never leave any litter behind. Dispose of any trash properly and recycle whatever you can.
- Wash your car at a commercial wash. This is probably the easiest green tip of all time! DIY car washing in the street or driveway sends polluted water into storm drains. Commercial car washes, however, are required to recycle their water and send their dirty water discharges into the wastewater system. Less water use, less pollution and less work for you.
- Keep your butts off the beach! Cigarette butts, that is. Despite being small in size, cigarette butts take years to break down and are the number one form of litter in Virginia and across the world. Always dispose of cigarette butts in an ashtray or other proper receptacle.
- Recycle more, trash less. Hot summer months mean more time outside, more ice cold beverages, more DIY and more parties. And that’s great! But take a moment to think about how you can reduce the amount of trash from your next party or project. Be sure to have large, visible recycle containers for guests if serving canned or bottled beverages. Or better yet, serve a signature beverage in reusable glasses. For that next home improvement project, be sure to recycle any packaging that you can from supplies.
- Minimize chemical use in your lawn and garden. We all spend a lot more time outdoors in the summer and many lawn and garden chemicals can be harmful to small children and pets. If you choose to use lawn and garden chemicals, always read and follow label instructions exactly. Never apply on a windy day to avoid drift. And if there is a chance of rain, wait it out so your investment isn’t washed away, polluting area waterways in the process. Investigate some non-chemical alternatives such as microbial or botanical insecticides, insecticidal soaps or beneficial insects. With any method, timing is key, so know the stages of insect and weed infestation to make the best choice of control.
These tips are courtesy of askHRgreen.org, a region-wide public service initiative that educates, engages and motivates cities to make good environmental choices here in Hampton Roads. If you have questions about how to embrace the green life, just askHRgreen.org!