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February 2014
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Make it Great, Keep it Clean

The Great American Cleanup wraps up in May, so now's the time to throw on your work clothes and grab some gear to help your community pick up, clean up, and green up! Last year more than 4.5 million people worked a collective 8.1 million hours to return nearly $175 million in measurable benefits in 21,000 communities across the country. That's awesome! Be part of this year's success story by participating in one of these community projects scheduled in May. We can't wait to see all the good that will come from everyone joining together to keep Hampton Roads beautiful!

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Celebrate Mom and Mother Nature on May 11

Why not celebrate Mother Nature while you celebrate your mom this Mother's Day? A low-waste gift could be the perfect thing to make her day. We've compiled a few green gift ideas that we're sure will keep your mom smiling from ear to ear:

  1. Give an Experience You know your mom better than most. Does she love dining at a certain restaurant, indulgent spa treatments or maybe a trip to the movies? Whatever your mom likes, there's sure to be a gift certificate that would make her day.
  2. Gift a New Skill Sign mom up for a class that will expand her skills and probably tickle her pink. Maybe mom could hone her cooking skills, try her hand at hot yoga or learn to play the guitar! Bonus: a little payback for those piano lessons she made you take!
  3. Chore Takeover The best gift you can give any mom is one day without chores. Take over her "to do" list for the day while she props up her feet and catches up on her DVR recordings.
  4. Ditch the Bouquet Why give mom cut flowers that will just wilt in a week? Head to your local garden store and pick out a beautiful perennial flower or a tree that your mom can enjoy for many seasons to come. In fact, choose a native species that's sure to last (see article below for more info).
  5. Useful & Reusable If you are going for a traditional gift, make sure that it is both useful and reusable. Reusable shopping bags, monogrammed lunch totes or trendy travel mugs are all great ways to help mom green her routine and reduce waste in a fashionable way.
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R-E-S-P-E-C-T Your Pipes

Let's be honest. We don't often think about how we get our water or where it goes when we're done with it. It's there every time we turn on the faucet, take a shower or flush. But it's not magic. There are over six thousand miles of pipes delivering 135 million gallons of water to homes and businesses in Hampton Roads each day. Not to mention the thousands of miles of pipes that carry dirty water to treatment plants for cleaning.


And how much does it cost to maintain? Compared to other things we take for granted as "must haves" like a cell phone or our cable bill, clean water is a steal. But it's not free. When we pay for our water and sewer services, we are supporting the workers, pipes and treatment that keep everything running smoothly. Imagine living just one day without water or sewer services and you'll quickly realize it's not 'just water' we're talking about, it's a basic necessity for life.


Learn more about our public water systems and how they work --- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week --- so we don't have to think twice about our water.  And the next time you grab a cool glass of tap water, give your faucet a high five, because hugging it would just be weird.

Let's Go Native!


You've heard it all before --- plant native plants! But why? What are the benefits of choosing natives and where can you find them?

Adaptable and Attractive

As the name implies, native plants are originally from this area, so they're well adapted to the climate and conditions here, and they attract desirable wildlife, such as birds and butterflies. They often require less water, fertilizer and pesticides than non-natives, so they're good for maintaining water quality in nearby rivers and streams. That also means less time and money you have to put into maintaining native plants!


How to Find Natives

If you're looking for some resources to help you choose what plants are right for your Hampton Roads landscape, try the Native Plants of the Virginia Coastal Plain guide from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). DCR also has a cool tool, the Virginia Native Plant Finder, that will help you find the native plant species that suits your needs. To use the tool, simply select the Coastal Plain region of Virginia and enter the type of plant you're looking for (herbs, trees, grasses, etc.), plus light and moisture conditions and...Voila! You'll find a complete list of the native plants that are a match for your yard.


Ready to Buy Natives? 

Check out the Virginia Native Plant Society's listing of upcoming plant sales, and keep an eye on the calendar for local sales of interest, such as the Master Gardeners' Annual Plant Sale in Virginia Beach, May 3-4, and the Spring Plant Sale at Norfolk Botanical Gardens May 9-11.  

For more great tips to have a greener season, visit