How to Live the Green Life in your Bay Star Home
Spring has sprung in hampton roads!
The native eastern redbud trees are bringing our landscapes to life with bright seasonal color. As a Bay Star Home participant, you've committed to do your part for a cleaner, healthier Chesapeake Bay by practicing at least eight environmentally-friendly behaviors in your home and yard. Way to go! We really appreciate your taking the pledge, and we will be here to help you along the way. Bay Star Homes is all about making a difference at home, whether you rent or own, live in the suburbs or on a rural farm. Imagine the impact this program will have on our local waterways now that the region is working together. Encourage your neighbors, family and friends to do their part by displaying your Bay Star Homes flag in your yard and inviting them to sign up at
Meet the Stars: karen cifranick
With nearly 1,700 registered Bay Star Home participants across Hampton Roads, we know there are a lot of great things happening throughout the region to protect our waterways. We love to hear what you have to say and see what you're doing to make a difference in your community. So without further ado we invite you to meet Karen Cifranick of Norfolk and read about her favorite eco-friendly tips and tricks.

What is one easy tip that you have for others looking to "green up" their homes?
Consider composting kitchen waste. It's not as hard as it seems and there are many benefits.

Since becoming a Bay Star Home participant, are there any practices that you've changed at home?
All the new plants in our flower beds are native, and we make an effort to buy only local, in-season produce and Virginia-made products.

Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out with this program?
Put reusable shopping bags in all of your vehicles, so there are no excuses when you get to the market. Combine trips by car to save fuel, even now when fuel prices are low. Don't be fooled! Fuel consumption still has its environmental impacts. 

Do you have any "green" projects planned for your home in the coming year?
We will be using our new rain barrel that we received from the City of Norfolk as part of our participation in Bay Star Homes and looking into solar alternatives for heating our water.

Now it's your turn! If you're interested in sharing your Bay Star Homes story with us, please send your contact info to for consideration of a future profile in the Green Gazette.
Did You Know...
...storm drains are not trash cans? It's so tempting to dispose of unwanted items in that big gaping hole to no man's land at your curb. But storm drains aren't magical disposals, and illegal dumping has serious consequences. Yard debris is probably the most common storm drain offender. Although organic, yard debris is packed full of nutrients that decay in storm drains and fuel the growth of algal blooms, which leave our waterways cloudy, polluted and foul-smelling. Yard debris can also clog drainage pipes and lead to flooded streets and yards. You should never dispose of pet waste, medication, yard chemicals, cooking grease or motor oil in the storm drain! Compost your yard clippings, trash your pet's waste and find a household hazardous waste collection for cooking grease, motor oil and medication. Together, let's make sure that only rain goes down the storm drain.
Have you ever considered installing a rain garden filled with native plants in your yard? Rain gardens are sunken beds designed to trap stormwater runoff from your home and allow it to seep into the ground instead of flowing out to the storm drain. Less water sent to the storm drain system means less flooding and less pollution in our waterways. But there's more! When you use native plants in your rain garden, you are also creating a patch of backyard habitat for local wildlife. Some plants are naturally fit to live in Hampton Roads. We call these "native plants" because they evolved in our local soils and have survived in our climate throughout the years. Native plants typically don't require extra maintenance, watering, fertilizers or pesticides because they thrive on what our local conditions provide naturally. This saves you time, money and keeps potentially dangerous chemicals out of our waterways. Plan to install a rain garden filled with native plants in your yard this spring with this easy rain garden installation guide.
upcoming events
The spring season is all about green living in Hampton Roads! The next several weekends are packed with events that will help us all do our part to conserve resources for generations to come. In addition to family-friendly Earth Day festivities, there are plenty of workshops, recycling events and native plant sales lined up for April and May. And let's not forget the Great American Cleanup, a nationwide community cleanup effort from Keep America Beautiful, underway now and wrapping up with Clean the Bay Day on June 6. Find the event most tailored to your interests on the calendar and support this season of conservation.

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