Tips and tricks for a gorgeous, green summer!

Did you see those Decals?
As folks flocked to local beaches, parks and attractions this Memorial Day, many came across sidewalk decals touting, “Every day we love the Bay” and “Protect the coast we love the most.” As part of an extended Clean the Bay Day, May 31-June 5, askHRgreen.org litter and stormwater pollution prevention advocates placed more than 50 decals across the region. The goal? To encourage residents to keep litter, harmful chemicals and debris out of local storm drains, which carry water directly to local waterways.  
“We wanted to highlight everyone’s connection to our local waterways,” said Katie Cullipher, an askHRgreen.org team leader. “Clean the Bay Day happens once a year, but we’re surrounded by water here in Hampton Roads every day. Even though we may not live on the water, we’re never very far from it, and our actions can impact the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways.”
Don’t wait for an organized event to do your part. There are lots of ways to get involved with cleanups throughout the year. Grab a bag and take a walk. Get together with coworkers monthly to clean up an area near your office. Or organize your own #TeamUp2Cleanup event. Look for cleanup resources and more and keep your eyes peeled for these cool decals when you’re out and about this summer!
Outdoor Watering Tips
Hot weather can really do a number on your yard, plants and garden areas. Before you reach for the hose or set out your sprinkler, please note that many plant problems arise not from underwatering, but from overwatering. An inefficient sprinkler can deliver as much as 300 gallons an hour onto the lawn, and watering during dry periods can consume up to 75% of a household’s water bill. Yikes! Heed our advice when it comes to keeping your landscapes green and efficient this summer with these outdoor watering tips:
Use a hose nozzle to turn water on/off when watering plants. 
Water lawn and garden areas when the sun is low, winds are calm and temps are cooler. This will minimize evaporation by as much as 30%. 
Install a rain barrel to a downspout to collect rainwater, and use it to water your lawn and garden. 
Use water-efficient drip irrigation systems for your landscape. 
Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway or patio. 
Plant native plants, which, once established, may have lower water and fertilizer requirements than non-natives. 
Reduce areas of thirsty turf grass by adding more mulched beds. Mulch will help plants retain moisture, minimize weeds and keep your plants cool.
For more watering tips and tricks, visit askHRgreen.org.
Do the Math before Flooding Occurs
Have you heard? An above-normal hurricane season is predicted this year, with 3-10 major hurricanes, 6-10 “regular” hurricanes and 13-20 named storms. In addition to securing your home and evacuating when advised, there is another important step to take before bad weather arrives according to local experts with GetFloodFluent.org — get flood insurance. 
“We urge Hampton Roads residents to sign up for flood insurance while the weather is fair, not fierce,” said Ben McFarlane, a senior regional planner with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC). “The emphasis is on planning now, rather than later, due to the 30-day waiting period before your flood insurance policy goes into effect.”
The damage of just one inch of water in your home can cost more than $25,000 in repairs. To help residents determine what flood insurance may cost, GetFloodFluent.org features a Flood Risk & Coverage Calculator. By answering a few easy questions using the online tool, they can find their flood zone and determine what it may cost to cover their home and belongings should flooding occur. 
To get more flood facts and use the Flood Risk Calculator, visit GetFloodFluent.org. And, should a storm be heading our way this season, consider taking these important steps. 
Before tropical and hurricane weather conditions, document and store important files and keepsakes in a safe location; prepare an emergency kit for you and your pets; think through an evacuation plan and coordinate these with family members; shore up your property by clearing gutters of debris, move lawn furniture inside and place sandbags, if needed, to divert water away from your home’s foundation. 
If flooding occurs, call your insurance provider right away; avoid contact with flood water, which may contain sewage and other contaminants; discard items that may prove a health risk, such as food, clothing, rugs, etc.; check for structural damage and foundation cracks, and note these for insurance purposes; look for downed power lines, and report any to your local utility company; make any temporary repairs you can before your insurance kicks in.  
Declare your Independence from Waste
It was so nice to be in the (new) normal this Fourth of July! It may be the first big holiday since the beginning of COVID where things felt back on track. People gathered for fireworks displays and parades, gobbled down covered dishes at neighborhood cookouts and convened with friends and family once again. As we continue to venture out over the coming months, it’s important to brush up on any green living behaviors that may have gotten rusty during our stay-at-home time. This July, we challenge you to declare your independence from wasteful living and refresh all your good green habits from life before COVID.
Plastic bags. You may be doing more in-store shopping now, relying less on online or curbside services. This is great for the environment! Both online shopping and curbside pickup rely heavily on packaging, whether it’s cardboard boxes or plastic bags. As you return to in-store shopping, remember to pack your reusable bags every time and return to a low-waste shopping lifestyle. 
To-go beverages. If you’ve been working from home, chances are you’ve gotten in the habit of drinking from a reusable cup or bottle. Keep up that habit as you return to your workspace. Bring your morning tea or coffee in a reusable tumbler, and then fill it with ice water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Why settle for expensive store-bought beverages in disposable packaging when you can have fresh clean water from the tap for a thousandth of the cost? Good for the environment, good for your bottom line.
Straws. If you’re ready to venture back into restaurant dining, remember to skip the straw. Plastic straws are used for minutes but take hundreds of years to decompose. Simply inform the waitstaff at restaurants or at drive-thru windows that you don’t need a straw. Plan to carry your own reusable straw, if needed. These days they come in a variety of styles with one sure to fit your needs.
In the News!
Thank you to our friends at “The Hampton Roads Show” on WAVY-TV, for their coverage of our “#NoButtsAboutIt” cigarette litter prevention campaign.
View this clip to see why such an itty bitty thing like a cigarette butt has such negative and long-lasting effects on our environment: