Green, savvy tips—Do you know your stuff?

Go Hands-on for Environmental Education
Lazy summer days have given way to the rush and routine of the school year here in Hampton Roads. As we gear up for everything back-to-school, we want to shine a spotlight on some special local teachers and youth leaders. Despite the limitations of a pandemic school year, they were able to bring environmental education to the K-12 students they serve.  
Through the Mini Grant Program, nine innovative groups in Hampton Roads leveraged the virtual learning platform and outdoor class time to create safe, environmental opportunities for their young learners.
Students worked in schoolyard gardens, watched butterflies grow, built and delivered rain barrels to their community, experienced the negative impacts of single-use plastics and performed water quality testing on samples from local waterways. These meaningful experiences are sure to foster a sense of connection between our environment and tomorrow’s leaders. Check out a complete list of last year’s projects on our “Green Living” blog. Feeling inspired? Grant applications are currently being accepted for the 2021-2022 school year. Apply today!
Fundraise with Care – Wash Water Pollutes!
Who doesn’t love an energetic group of kids eagerly flagging down passing cars with their bright car wash signs? Fundraiser car washes are almost a rite of passage for many school-aged youths. They are also a vital part of raising money to support local programs like sports, arts, special initiatives and community services. They let kids roll up their sleeves and work to support their own programs. It’s quite admirable. So what’s the catch? 
When cars are washed on hard surfaces such as parking lots, the wash water (including the soap, dirt and grease) runs into nearby storm drains and flows directly into our local waterways. This can contribute to polluted waterways and damage fragile marine habitat. A great alternative to holding a car wash fundraiser is to partner with a commercial car wash to sell car-wash tickets. These operations capture dirty wash water and reuse it or send it to the sanitary sewer system for treatment. This is preferred. But if you have your heart set on scrubbing those fenders yourself, follow these simple steps to reduce your impact.
Use biodegradable, phosphate-free, water-based cleaners.
Use a hose nozzle to conserve water and decrease flow of water to storm drain.
Wash cars on grassy or gravel surfaces where water can be absorbed. 
Wring sponges and rags into a bucket instead of onto the ground.
Empty buckets into sinks, toilets or grassy areas.
Check out a car wash kit or make your own! Kits include a drain cover, submersible pump and garden hose to block the storm drain and divert the dirty wash water into grassy areas. You’ll soon be able to borrow these handy kits from select localities in Hampton Roads. Check back here for more information coming soon!
Scouts Helping Out! Meet Green Achiever McKenna Kundis
Do you know that it takes more than 5,000 liters of water to produce a pair of jeans? And if last year’s stylish blues are tossed in the trash this year, it may take more than 200 years for the garment to decompose in a landfill? Such concerns prompted a local student, McKenna Kundis, to take on the environmental concerns of “fast fashion” as a project for her Girl Scout Gold Award submission. The highest achievement within Girl Scouts of the USA, this award is presented to Scouts who successfully complete projects that resonate with them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond.
“Fast fashion” is the term for clothing production that is outsourced and made quickly to meet the timeline of short-lived trends. After purchasing the goods at a low price, consumers wear them while the garments are popular and then dispose of them. When considering her Gold Award project, McKenna, a senior at Great Bridge High School, says she knew instantly that she wanted to nudge consumers into greener habits when it comes to textile consumption. She’s hoping her “Sustainable Seams” project will shed light on the environmental impact of the mass production of cheap and disposable clothing, while offering alternative ways to combat the issue such as shopping second hand, donating used garments and learning to sew. 
To learn more, visit our “Green Living” blog where McKenna has been writing about her project.
Fall Lawn Care Tips + a Pop Quiz!
Before you know it, autumn leaves will be aloft in Hampton Roads—a harbinger of cool temps and golden days to follow. This is prime time for raking, mowing and tidying your landscape for the fall. Just take care to clean up right. When large quantities of organic materials enter our local storm drains, they can clog the entry ways. The backup can result in street and yard flooding, as well as algae growth when the materials decay and release nutrients in local waterways. That’s bad for your neighborhood and harmful to aquatic life. To keep lawn debris from becoming a nuisance, here’s a quick list of good-to-do practices to keep your fall lawn cleanups truly “green.”
Mulch mow/run over leaves with your lawnmower; this is an organic way to fertilize your grass and keep storm drains clear.
Leave grass clippings on the lawn to break down and return nitrogen to the soil. 
Add leaves to your compost bin to decompose; your lawn and beds will love it! 
Rake leaves into garden beds, providing nature’s own mulch and habitat for overwintering wildlife.
Always clean up after your pet. Containing harmful bacteria, pet waste can run off into local waterways, leading to closures of beach areas and shellfish harvesting.
Check with your locality about how to dispose of yard debris. Many will take these materials to a composting facility, where they are turned into compost for beautifying public areas and parks.
Now that you’re versed on these leafy dos, take our Leaf Quiz to further test your knowledge. We think you’ll get an A+! 
In the News!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!When first popped onto the scene in 2011, our committee members had a key charge—make it easy for Hampton Roads’ residents to find answers to questions about all things green. Administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, with support from all 17 of our region’s cities and counties and HRSD, this initiative broke new ground when it launched in July of 2011. For the first time, residents of the 757 had a central resource to learn about recycling, smart water use and how to keep our local landscape and waterways clean.
What a decade it’s been! Over the next year, we’ll be reminiscing, sharing highlights from the past and inviting you to help us celebrate in some fun and very exciting ways. Keep an eye out for more news about our 10th anniversary year. We wouldn’t dream of celebrating without you! #10yearstogether