As fall turns into winter, askHRgreen.org turns its thoughts to hearth, home and how to make the approaching holiday season easy on the environment. Consider the following reminders to help 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 for municipal pick up. Leaves should never be raked or blown into the storm drain, which can cause street flooding and contribute to excess algae growth in waterways. While you’re sprucing up, be sure to disconnect and drain your garden hoses and rain barrels. Packing away these items now will prevent damage from freezing temperatures down the road and may decrease your chances of bursting a water pipe.
- 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 backup 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. And don’t forget that most Hampton Roads cities and counties will pick up and recycle your naturally-grown Christmas trees after the holidays. Find out what’s recyclable in your community, and be sure to check your city/county’s website after the holidays for their tree collection schedule.
- 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, 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 2018. For inspiration, visit askHRgreen.org 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 askHRgreen.org.