Saturday, July 6, 2024

Summer Newsletter and Events

  • Upcoming Events
    • Dates for the September 
  • Planting starting at Blue Heron Landing Park
    • Many Hands Make Light Work! - More Volunteers Needed
    • June Recap
    • Tree Pledge
Upcoming Events

Save these dates for September
  • Saturday, 9/14, 8:30 am-10:30 am - Second Saturday Hike 
  • Thursday, 9/19, 7 pm - Monthly Meeting - Chesapeake Healthy Landscapes Program
  • Saturday, 9/21 - International Coastal Cleanup


Many Hands Make Light Work! - More Volunteers Needed

Thank you to the volunteers who have been weeding, mulching, and maintaining the gardens at the Indian River Road Oaklette Bridge and at Indian River Park, and at planters along Indian River Road.   We are looking for more volunteers to help.

At the Indian River Park native plant garden this year, we are going to try a "Divide and Conquer" approach. We have a few people that have already expressed interest in helping with the garden and the plan is to assign a small section to each of the volunteers that signs up. If you also want to help, our Native Plant Garden Captain, Amy Weber, will meet with you to point out your section and discuss the native plant selections and which plants that we consider to be weeds. You will visit the garden on your own time, every week or two, to keep your area in good shape. She will reach out to everyone periodically to see if there are any special concerns. She will be available to help as needed if you are unavailable on vacations or other times away!  Please feel free to contact her directly at to sign up to help or if you have any questions! 

At the Bridge Garden, we generally meet on Tuesday mornings to weed and do other tasks. If you are interested in helping out there, e-mail us at for more information.

June Recap

On our Adopt-A-Road cleanup, we collected litter around and under the bridge and up along Indian River Road.  We wrapped up early because of the high heat that morning, but we still collected nearly 100 lbs. of litter and debris.   Of course, I keep hoping for the day we have a cleanup and I have to report that we found no litter. 

We were also excited to see progress on the Indian River Shopping Center renovations.  They've even added some landscaping in front of the new storefronts!
And they are starting to do the planting of wetlands grasses at Blue Heron Landing Park!  See photo at top of newsletter.

Tree Pledge

Will you take our Tree Pledge to protect trees in our community?  
Click here to help protect trees:

Have an idea for an article for our newsletter?  Send your submission, max 250 words, to us at along with a photo and we'll consider it for our next edition.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

June Newsletter and Events

Summer is almost here!  Join us this Saturday, June 8th, for an evening hike at Indian River Park.  And on the Summer Solstice, Thursday, June 20th, we are holding our annual Potluck Picnic in the pavilion behind Oaklette UMC.  We hope you will join us for these fun social events!

  • Upcoming Events
    • 6/8/2024 - Saturday - Evening Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park
    • 6/20/2024 - Thursday - Summer Evening Potluck Picnic
    • 6/22/2024 - Saturday - Adopt-A-Road Cleanup along Indian River Road 
  • News
    • Comprehensive Plan Open Houses
    • Many Hands Make Light Work! - More Volunteers Needed
    • Tree and River Star Outreach
    • Protect Your Trees from Storm Damage
    • May and Clean the Bay Day Recap
Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 8: Evening Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park
  • Time: 6 pm - 8 pm
  • Location: Indian River Park trailhead at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2003 Rokeby Ave.)
  • Learn about the history of the park, the native trees and plants in this century old forest on the Indian River flood plain, and its value to maintaining the health of local butterfly, bird, and wildlife populations. Note: the forest trail has uneven surfaces and minor elevation changes.
  • Please pre-register at (suggested but not required)
Thursday, June 20: Summer Solstice Potluck Picnic
  • Time 6 pm - 8 pm
  • Picnic do Bruno | Michell Zappa | Flickr
    Location: Picnic Pavilion behind Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive; park in the side lot along St. Lawrence Dr. 
  • Rather than our usual monthly meeting, in June we'll have a potluck picnic out behind the church.  Bring a dish to share and join us for some camaraderie as we roll into summer.  The Friends will set out tables and chairs, provide a main protein dish (likely chicken).  We suggest bringing a comfy lawn chair. In the event of rain, we will move the event inside the church's fellowship hall. 
  • To help coordinate who is bringing what, we set up a Sign Up Genius form at

Saturday, June 22 - Adopt-A-Road Cleanup along Indian River Road 
  • Time: 9 AM to 11:30 AM
  • Location: Meet at Lilac Avenue and Indian River Road. Park along Lilac Avenue by the Norfolk Highlands Primary School.
  • We need your help for our quarterly cleanup.   Join us for a few hours to clean up the mile of Indian River Road from the city limits at Wingfield Avenue all the way to MacDonald Road. We are also asking all business owners along Indian River Road - and everywhere really - to make sure they sweep up in front of their storefronts as part of the effort.   And if you can't make it out for our organized cleanup please take 15 minutes and cleanup the street and ditches in front of your home; pass the word to your neighbors!
  • For our main cleanup on Indian River Road, the city will provide garbage bags and orange safety vests.  Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.  Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.
  • Please pre-register at (suggested but not required)


Comprehensive Plan Open Houses

The Planning Department is continuing its Comp Planning efforts.  They finished focus group stakeholder meetings and a round of geographic area stakeholder meetings over the last couple of months.  Now another round of public Community Open Houses have been scheduled.  The closest one to Indian River will be on June 10 at the Conference Center.

June 4 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m., Great Bridge Town Meeting (Information Table) @ Great Bridge Intermediate School
June 10 from 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., Chesapeake Conference Center
June 13 from 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., Fire Station #7, 3329 South Battlefield Blvd.
June 17 from 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., Chesapeake Lifestyle Center

The Trails and Connectivity Plan is planning its final open house for Monday, June 3, from 5:30 pm to 7 pm at the Portlock Galleries, 3815 Bainbridge Blvd. Learn more at

The Greenbrier Area Plan held its final open house on May 22.   You can see some of the charts from the meeting at

Many Hands Make Light Work! - More Volunteers Needed

Thank you to the volunteers who have been weeding, mulching, and maintaining the gardens at the Indian River Road Oaklette Bridge and at Indian River Park, and at planters along Indian River Road.   We are looking for more volunteers to help.

At the Indian River Park native plant garden this year, we are going to try a "Divide and Conquer" approach. We have a few people that have already expressed interest in helping with the garden and the plan is to assign a small section to each of the volunteers that signs up. If you also want to help, our Native Plant Garden Captain, Amy Weber, will meet with you to point out your section and discuss the native plant selections and which plants that we consider to be weeds. You will visit the garden on your own time, every week or two, to keep your area in good shape. She will reach out to everyone periodically to see if there are any special concerns. She will be available to help as needed if you are unavailable on vacations or other times away!  Please feel free to contact her directly at to sign up to help or if you have any questions! 

At the Bridge Garden, we generally meet on Tuesday mornings to weed and do other tasks. If you are interested in helping out there, e-mail us at for more information.

Tree and River Star Outreach

We are starting a new sub-committee to identify opportunities to increase tree canopy in Indian River area by encouraging preservation of existing trees and encouraging new plantings on both residential, commercial, and municipal properties.   Along with this, we'll encourage residents and commercial property owners to become River Star Homes and River Star Businesses with the Elizabeth River Project.  If you are interested in helping with this committee, please let us know at

Protect Your Trees from Storm Damage

The hurricane forecast is in the news this weekend.  Trees are an enormous investment for your home and for the health of the environment.  Trees provide critical ecosystem services by protecting from damaging winds, reducing flooding, holding soil in place, and reducing summer air conditioning costs by up to 35%. And there is safety in numbers, neighborhoods with more tree canopy cover generally have less tree damage from storms.  You can take steps to ensure that your trees are healthy and properly maintained so you can enjoy their benefits for decades to come.  Learn how to keep your trees storm resilient at at

Also, take our Tree Pledge to protect trees on your property and in the community.    
Click here to help protect trees:

May and Clean the Bay Day Recap

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) came to our May meeting and gave us an in-depth view of the high-capacity transit options for Chesapeake like establishing "bus rapid transit" routes.  Attendees were able to provide detailed feedback to the HRT team.   Learn more about the study at

We congratulated Mai Saldivar, winner of the Friends of Indian River 2024 Indian River High School Education Scholarship.  The scholarship recognizes a senior who excels in leadership, citizenship, extracurricular activities and academics.  Mai excels in all these areas and has done outstanding volunteer work including Clean Up projects thru the Elizabeth River Project and other groups.    She is looking forward to majoring in biology and environmental sciences. Thank you for your efforts and best wishes for college and beyond! Learn more about the scholarship at

We had a fantastic turn out for Clean the Bay Day on Saturday, June 1st at Indian River Park.  47 volunteers collected over 400 lbs. of litter and debris from the wetlands and roadsides in and around the park.  Very little of this trash comes from park users.   It is mostly trash washed in from the surrounding commercial and residential streets.  We found a lot of beverage containers, food-to-go packaging, and plastic bags.   A big thank you to the groups that came out to help today at the park including Navy Logistics Support, Coalition of Sailors, and of course our dedicated Friends of Indian River volunteers.  See more photos on our Friends of Indian River | Facebook Page 

We wish to thank the Carl W. Mangum Jr. and Marguerite S. Mangum Fund #3 of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for making a generous grant to the Friends of Indian River.  This is very appreciated and helps our organization fulfill its mission to improve the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods of Chesapeake  

Meanwhile, at the future Blue Heron Landing Park, there was noticeable progress. They started to regrade the site for what will ultimately be a restored living shoreline.

Have an idea for an article for our newsletter?  Send your submission, max 250 words, to us at along with a photo and we'll consider it for our next edition.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

May Newsletter and Events

  • Upcoming Events
    • 5/16/2024 - Thursday - Bi-Monthly Meeting: Hampton Roads Transit
    • 5/18/2024 - Saturday - Gardening/Mulching Native Plant Landscaping at Bridge 
    • 6/1/2024 - Saturday - Clean the Bay Day @ Indian River Park
    • No Second Saturday Hike in May
  • News
    • Volunteers needed for gardening
    • Wildlife in the Community
    • Bird Safe/Lights Out Hampton Roads
    • Oyster Gardening
    • April Recap
    • Tree Pledge
Upcoming Events

Thursday, May 16: Bi-Monthly Meeting: Hampton Roads Transit
  • Time: 
    7 pm
  • Location: Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive
  • Our guest speaker will be Sherri Dawson from Hampton Roads Transit to give us an update on their Connecting Chesapeake Study.  All are welcome.  There will be door prizes and light refreshments.
Saturday, May 18: Gardening/Mulching Native Plant Landscaping at Bridge 
  • CANCELLED due to the predicted weather and other circumstances.

  • Our main task will be mulching and weeding around the native tree and shrub plantings along the side of Indian River Road at the Oaklette Bridge.  If we have enough folks, we'll do some cleanup under the bridge. We'll have water and snacks available.  We also always encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles and cans.  
  • Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.

Saturday, June1: Clean the Bay Day 
  • Time: 9 AM to Noon
  • Location: Indian River Park trailhead at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2003 Rokeby Ave.) which is located just south of Military Highway, i.e. across Military Highway from the Fire Station.
  • The Friends of Indian River's will be hosting Clean the Bay Day at the Indian River Park
  • The city will provide garbage bags. We'll have water and snacks available. 
  • Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.  Long pants are recommended.  We also always encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles. Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision. 
  • Please pre-register at (suggested but not required)


Volunteers need for gardening

We have a regular need for volunteers to help maintain our gardens and plantings both along Indian River Road at the Oaklette Bridge and at the native plant garden at Indian River Park.  This is in addition to our monthly volunteer days.  The tasks include regular weeding and other garden work; some work is small group events during the week; once having completed orientation, some work might be on an individual schedule.  If you are interested in helping out, e-mail us at for more information.

Wildlife in the Community

It's baby season for wildlife and you're likely to see more wildlife activity in the neighborhood.  Foxes, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, river otters, and many other mammals are busy raising their young.  You are more likely to see them out and about both day and night as they forage to feed their young and seeing them during the day is not any indicator or illness. Likewise, box turtles are on the move and even snakes.  It's the peak of the spring migration and all variety of birds are setting up the nest and laying eggs.  
The city and suburbs are home to a wide variety of wildlife.  If you think about it, the wildlife was actually here first before we built on their land, and it's up to us to co-exist with them. Seeing a fox hustle across your backyard can be a thrill.  There are important steps to avoid conflict with wildlife in your backyard including making sure not to leave food outside, keeping trash in animal proof containers, sealing openings under and into your buildings so animals won't select your home as a place to build a den, and clearing low overhanging tree limbs which may be providing wildlife access to structures.  

Learn more about approaches you can take to solve any wild animal problems you encounter in your home, yard or garden at 

Bird Safe/Lights Out Hampton Roads

The Friends of Indian River have teamed up with the Cape Henry Audubon Society and other regional partners including the Virginia Zoo and Elizabeth River Project to launch the Bird Safe/Lights Out Hampton Roads program.  Hampton Roads lies directly along the Atlantic Flyway and the Chesapeake Bay is a major stopover point for the birds on their marathon migration. Migration is the most dangerous time in the life of a bird.  About 80% of migrating birds make their journey at night.  Lured into urban areas by bright lights, birds often become disoriented, flying in circles and becoming exhausted.  In areas with tall buildings, the risk of building collisions increases.  The Lights Out program is asking commercial and institutional building owners and tenants to minimize unnecessary lights from 11 pm to 6am during the spring migration from March 15 to May 31 and the fall migration from August 15 to November 15. 
While collisions with tall buildings are a major concern, hundreds of millions of birds also die every year from crashing into windows of one and two-story residential homes.  During the day, birds mistake reflections of plants and sky on the windows as a clear flight path that they try to fly through.  At night, illuminated interiors again look like a clear path that can be flown through. Window strikes can happen at any time of year but also tend to increase during spring and fall migration and during breeding season when young birds start flying.  There are several steps you can take to make your windows and yard safer for birds.  To learn more visit

Another important step to keep wildlife safe is keeping cats indoors.  Domestic cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds in the US every year, even greater than building or structure collisions, and second only to habitat loss/climate change.  Learn more at

Oyster Gardening

Switching from the skies to the river, if you would like another way to help wildlife flourish and clean up the Indian River, you may want to learn about Oyster Gardening.  If you live along the shore and have a pier or similar structure, then you can help raise baby oysters for use by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for restoration efforts around the Bay including on the Indian River.  To learn more, sign up for one of the New Gardener Seminars at

T-Shirts and Hoodies

We're considering ordering additional T-Shirts and Hoodies for members.  T-shirts material is 90/10 cotton/polyester; hoodies are 80/20 cotton/polyester blend. To cover the cost, short-sleeve T-shirts would be for a donation of $12-$15, long sleeve T-shirts for $15-$18, and Hoodies for $30-$33.  If you are interested in pre-ordering one or more of these, please fill out the online form at We will follow up with you about payment methods and timing.

April Recap

April was a very busy month for the Friends.  We had a great time and met with old and new friends tabling at the Earth Day Festival at Campostella Square Park.  Organized by the Climate Action Network and bringing together various environmental groups from around Chesapeake, we hope this will become an annual event in our watershed.
It is also budget season for the City. The Friends of Indian River submitted feedback to the City Council on funding priorities both in writing and at a public hearing during the City Council meeting.  There are two new funding items in next year's proposed budget that directly affect our area.  One is a Facade Improvement Grant program for the Indian River Area; this would create a competitive, matching grant program for commercial property owners to apply for funding for fa├žade improvements, landscaping and hardscape improvements, signage, outdoor eating areas, and pedestrian enhancements.  The other project is the redesign of the intersection at Military Highway and Rokeby Avenue; this will prohibit left turns from Rokeby Avenue (north or south) onto Military Highway; although designated as a Safety Improvement Project, we have previously raised concerns that the preliminary designs did not include a pedestrian crossing of Military Highway at Rokeby.  Since this is the primary path to reach Indian River Park, this is a major design oversight that we want to see corrected.

We are also concerned about several projects that have been previously funded that have not moved forward including Indian River Road bike lanes, the Philmont Avenue Septic System Disconnection and Replacement, Norfolk Highlands Stormwater Management Improvements, and the Oaklette Bridge Repair. We urged the City Council to get these projects start soon. 

We were also very troubled when we saw a proposal from the Planning Department to remove Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CBPA) protection from over 1000 acres of land in Chesapeake, including 10 acres of woods at the head of the tide of the Indian River at the Indian River High School/Middle School campus. The CBPA is one of our most effective tools for protecting the water quality of the many waterways that cross our City and a very important tool for protecting our vanishing tree canopy.  We objected that the parcel along the Indian River clearly met the CBPA criteria and asked the City Council to Continue (defer) any decision until these changes could be more thoroughly reviewed.  The Planning Department did ultimately ask for a 60-day Continuance to do better outreach and did respond that the removal of the 10 acres of woods in our area was done in error and will not be removed.  But we still believe more review is needed of other areas to make sure they are being properly protected, including a large tract of forested wetlands in the Fernwood Farms/Riverwalk area.  

As part of our hands-on efforts, late in the month, sailors from the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) came out to Indian River Park today to work on removing invasive English Ivy smothering trees in the park and helping at the native plant garden.  This was part of the ship's Thousand Points of Light program, inspired by the late President Bush’s legacy and life of service, to help make our community a better place one act at a time!  We were very grateful for the help from sailors, also thank our dedicated Friends of Indian River volunteers who came out to help guide the efforts, and thank Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism for providing tools and supplies for the work day!

Tree Pledge

Will you take our Tree Pledge to protect trees in our community?  
Click here to help protect trees:

Have an idea for an article for our newsletter?  Send your submission, max 250 words, to us at along with a photo and we'll consider it for our next edition.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Earth Day 2024

   Here is a list of 50 Ways to Help Our Planet for Earth Day - and everyday!


1.       Eliminate or minimize use of herbicides and pesticides
Pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, are designed to kill weeds, insects, rodents, and mold.  By definition, these toxic chemicals can be poisonous to wildlife, pets, people, and especially children.  So use best practices in your garden to reduce or eliminate the need for these chemicals.
2.       Reduce use of fertilizers
Plants need fertilizer to grow, but most homeowners use much more than necessary.  When too much fertilizer is used or when it is applied at the wrong time, rainfall will wash excess fertilizer out of yards and into our streams and rivers.  This fertilizer overload causes severe issues like algae blooms and dead zones that kills aquatic life.
3.       Reduce storm water runoff
Stormwater runoff – excess rain draining from properties - is a leading cause of water quality problems. Rainfall or snowmelt from suburban lawns, golf courses, and paved surfaces picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, washing them into our waterways and into ground waters.   Capturing and keeping more rainwater in your garden allows it to soak in or evaporate, thus reducing both pollution and flooding.  Learn about projects you can do to reduce runoff at
4.       Reduce size of your lawn
There are about 40 million acres of lawns in the U.S., making it the largest irrigated “crop” in the country.  Americans spend about $30 billion –and countless hours – every year tending to their lawns.  And lawns are ultimately biological deserts of minimal ecological value.   Replacing areas of your lawn with more plants can yield significant environmental benefits.
5.       Grow a vegetable garden
Creating a vegetable garden rather than mowing a lawn has many health benefits, provides you with the freshest fruits and vegetables, and let’s you manage what fertilizers and pesticides touch your food.   Such gardens can come in many sizes from balcony container gardens to mini-farms.
6.       Protect existing trees
There is nearly an endless list of benefits from trees including providing shade, cutting electric bills for cooling, improving air quality, reducing stormwater runoff, enhancing beauty, providing homes for wildlife, increasing property values, and even improving mental health and happiness.  Read the “owner’s manual” on how to keep your trees strong and healthy.
7.       Plant more trees
We need to protect the existing trees and we need to plant more trees.   As the proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”  It is also important to pick the right tree for the right place.  Learn more about selecting trees and proper planting techniques at
8.       Plant native plants/plant pollinator garden
Your choice of plants is a big factor in how much environmental benefit they provide.  Plants are at the base of the food web for wildlife and research clearly shows that plants that are native to an area – plants that co-evolved with local insects – provide dramatically more wildlife benefit than ornamental plants from distant lands.  So go native as much as you can!
9.       Live in harmony with wildlife
As human populations grow and our cities and towns expand across the landscape, so have our interactions with wildlife.  Many species have adapted to living alongside people in our suburban and even urban areas.   Hundreds of species of birds, countless insects from beetles to bees to butterflies, snakes and lizards, and larger creatures such as foxes and raccoons make their homes and live their lives in our communities.  With proper care and respect, observing these creatures can enrich all our lives.
10.   Become a River Star or Bay Star Home
Make a commitment to be a better steward of the environment, get more tips on how to use better practices, and in some cases be eligible for financial support on projects.
11.   Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  But Most of All – Reduce.
The average American throws away 4.5 lbs of stuff every single day, 365 days per year.  Only a small fraction of all this stuff ever gets recycled and much of it is not easily recyclable.   We’ve all heard of the 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  But perhaps the most important step is to Reduce first – avoid getting single use products and packages that you’ll toss almost immediately.
12.   Donate old items in good condition to thrift stores
Before you throw away that item, consider whether it has a second life.  Is it in good condition?  Would it be something you would give to a friend?  If so, consider donating it to a local thrift store.   It can then benefit the charity, provide a low cost item to someone else in your community, keep it out of the landfill, and make you feel good!
13.   Share tools and equipment with neighbors rather than buying your own
Ever need that one tool that one time?    Should you really hop on your favorite e-commerce site and order it?   How about hopping on your local community group on social media and asking if you can borrow the tool.  Odds are someone has it and may be willing to let you borrow it for the afternoon.
14.   Opt out of junk mail
Americans receive millions of tons of junk mail every year.  That’s cumulatively, but many may feel they get that much just themselves.  And much of it goes straight into the recycling bin.  Here are some options for cutting down on how much you get in your mailbox.
15.   Turn off unused lights and switch to LED light bulbs
Starting with the oldest tip – turn off unused lights – to the newest – replace light bulbs as they fail with LED bulbs.   The price of LED’s has dropped dramatically over the years, they use 90% less electricity than incandescents, they have no toxic chemicals, and they practically last forever.
16.   Adjust your thermostat
You can save 10% of your heating and cooling bill by adjusting your thermostat for at least 8 hours per day.    And heating and cooling costs can easily be more than half of the average home’s electric bill – usually much more during our hot and humid summers.
17.   Wash full loads of laundry in colder water
Most of the cost – and energy usage – in doing laundry goes to heating water.  Washing in cold water uses 90% less electricity.  Also washing in cold water gets the clothes just as clean in typical situations and is more gentle on the clothing.
18.   Look for the Energy Star label when buying new appliances
When you're shopping for appliances or electronics, you have to think both short term and long term.  There is the cost of buying the appliance but also the cost of operating it year after year, which is usually much more than the cost to buy it.   Looking at the Energy Star label, you can see how much it will cost to run the product so you can buy the more efficient products.  You’ll save money year after year and save the planet.
19.   Winterize your home for winter and summer savings
“Winterizing” your home actually saves you money both in the winter and the summer.  Taking steps to insulate your home and seal cracks keeps warm air inside in the winter, but it also keeps cool air inside in the summer.   Both can result in major cost and energy savings!
20.   Get a home or workplace energy audit to identify where you can make the most energy-saving gains
You can work with Dominion Energy to have a professional do a Home Energy Assessment of your home and identify more ways to save energy and money.
Shopping/Eating out
21.   Say no to single use plastic bottling – bring your own reusable bottle or mug
In a nation where almost all Americans (but sadly not all) have access to clean, safe drinking water, we consume water in single use plastic bottles at the rate of 100,000 PER MINUTE; 50 billion bottles per year.   And 77% of these bottles never ever reach the recycling center.   Be healthier, save money, save the planet - bring your own water from home!
22.   Avoid single use plastic packaging
Our society is drowning in single use plastic items – from plastic bags to impossible to open “blister” packs, from plastic water bottles to fruit clamshells.   These items will last nearly forever but are trash after the initial use.  Most are not readily recyclable.  Plastic production from new petroleum resources is projected to increase by 40% over the next 10 years, and the oil and gas industry is expecting this to be a major revenue source.  Take action to reverse this trend.
23.   Shop local          
By shopping local you support your local community and reduce transportation costs.   And when buying locally produced food, such as from farmer markets, you support local agriculture.
24.   Combine online deliveries into a single delivery
Online shopping is convenient.  But having a steady stream of delivery vehicles cruising city streets to drop off more and more cardboard boxes and bags at your door is certainly not ideal for reducing waste or pollution.    Reduce your impact by combining your orders and deliveries into as few shipments as possible, such as by setting an “Amazon Day”
25.   Go Meatless at least once a week
Livestock operations have significant negative environmental impacts, from the amount of land and water consumed to the amount of animal waste produced.   Skipping meat once a week can have a major benefit for the ecosystem.
26.   Buy organic and local whenever possible
The USDA Organic certification gives you confidence that it was grown pesticide-free.  Locally grown food helps local farmers and reduces transportation costs.  Locally grown organic is the best of both worlds.   Learn about your food choices and make the best choices!
27.   Bring your own reusable container for leftovers at restaurant
Want a do-it-yourself solution to avoid getting those Styrofoam containers for leftovers when you go to a restaurant?  (Remember back when we ate out).   Come prepared, bring your own reusable food storage containers in a small bag and fill them yourself with your leftovers.
28.   Buy second hand from thrift stores or friends
Why buy new when there are perfectly good items looking for a new home at your local thrift store?  You avoid the need to manufacture a new product using raw materials, keep an item out of the landfill, save money, and likely help a local good cause.
29.   Buy Less, Live More
Focusing on life’s simple pleasures-  like spending time in nature, being with loved ones, making a difference to others – can  provide more purpose, belonging and happiness than buying and consuming.

30.   Bike instead of driving for some of your trips
Choosing your bike over your car has multiple benefits – reducing fuel use and carbon emissions, saving wear and tear on your vehicle, reducing traffic congestion, and providing you with exercise.
31.   Walk instead of driving for short errands
Ever drive from one side of a parking lot to the other?   Take the car to go to the post office down the street?   By walking instead of driving you again reduce pollution from your car and get great exercise.  So park that car and get moving!
32.   Combine trips to reduce driving
When you do drive, combine several errands in one trip.   And plan your route in advance to line up destinations efficiently and avoid having to backtrack.  And a tip from UPS – when planning your trip, minimize making left turns because they result in more wasted time and fuel.
33.   Improve your gas mileage by taking care of your car
There are many easy ways to improve your gas mileage, starting with making sure your tires are properly inflated and your air filters are clean.   Also go easy on the gas pedal, avoiding “jack rabbit” starts and driving too fast.
34.   Make sure your next car has better gas mileage - or go electric
Hybrids and EV cars now so a clear lifecycle reduction in CO2 emissions.  The trick may be finding one as demand ramps up.
35.   Telecommute
A lot of businesses have been required to practice telecommuting for the first time this year.  If they decide to retain this option for employees long term, at least some of the time, they can provide significant environmental benefits to the world.   Thousands of cars could be removed from the road and traffic congestion relieved.  Employers could also save costs on heating and cooling buildings.  And employees could save hundreds of hours of time commuting each year.
36.   Reduce energy consumption
Businesses can also save money by adopting a variety of energy saving practices, some as simple as making sure unused lights and equipment are powered down.
37.   Switch to renewal energy providers
Renewable solar and wind energy continue to decline dramatically in cost, making them competitive with gas powered and cheaper than coal powered generation.    Business can either install solar and wind directly or buy via renewal energy contracts.
38.   Establish a workplace recycling program
Businesses often generate large amounts of recyclable materials.  To be a good corporate citizen, the first step for a successful program is a waste audit, including reviewing how to reduce waste before it happens.   For items you can’t reduce/eliminate or reuse, the next step is setting up a recycling program.   Learn how at
39.   Reduce waste and improve your company’s environmental footprint
Reducing waste saves money while conserving both natural resources and energy – “waste not, want not”.  Reducing your waste is also a practice that provides positive customer public relations for businesses.  More than just recycling, waste reduction looks for various ways to reduce a company’s environmental footprint.
40.   Reduce business travel
Traveling long distances for business meetings has a major environmental impact, not to mention being expensive and time consuming.  Sometimes there is nothing that can replace the impact of a face to face meeting, but with today’s technology a tele- or video conference will often be sufficient.
41.   Never litter – and lend a hand by picking up litter when you are out and about
Litter happens … whether from carelessness, neglect, irresponsibility, or mistakes.  Make a pledge to never litter.  And when you see litter, pick it up if you can.  Research shows that people are less likely to litter if an area is already litter free.   And discourage the use of single use, disposable packaging when possible.
42.   Join community cleanups
Many locales have regular cleanups through programs like Adopt-A-Highway, Adopt-A-Park, The Great American Cleanup, Clean the Bay Day, and the International Coastal Cleanup.  Go out and lend a hand!
43.   Follow the Friends of Indian River on Facebook
Get the latest environmental tips and updates from the Friends of Indian River.  Follow us on Facebook.
44.   Volunteer with the Friends of Indian River and other local environmental organizations
We are always looking for volunteers to help on a broad array of activities.  From cleanups to advocacy, the efforts of volunteers are what makes non-profits effective.  Check with our  volunteer calendar at or browse
45.   Participate in the activities of city boards and commissions
There are several city boards and commissions, in addition to the CEIC, that deal with environmentally related issues.  These include the Chesapeake Agricultural Advisory Commission, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CPBA) Board , Chesapeake Bicycles/Trails Advisory Committee (BTAC) , and the Stormwater Committee.
46.   Make your voice heard at the Planning Commission and City Council
The Planning Commission and City Council deal with many land use issues and overall city policies.  The Planning Commission has public hearings on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.  The City Council has public hearings on most Tuesday evenings.
47.   Become an environmental and conservation advocate
As a citizen and a constituent, you have the power to contact your elected officials at the city, state, and federal level about issues that are important to you.    Tools include e-mails, letters, in person meetings, comments at public hearings, and even letters to the editor of local newspapers.
48.   Share the Knowledge/Be a Good Example
Share what you know and be a good example for others.   Model good behavior and others are more likely to trust you and change their own behaviors
49.   Vote
Elections matter.  Research the candidates running for office and support candidates who best support your goals.  And make sure you register and vote.  If you can’t get to the polls, make sure you apply for an absentee ballot.
50.   Go outside, enjoy nature, and bring a friend – building a love of nature will encourage everyone to protect our Earth
Study after study shows that getting out in nature improves health and happiness.  And people won’t protect the natural world around us unless they learn to appreciate it.   One lesson we hopefully take from the recent crisis is that we need more natural areas in our cities.  (Please follow physical distancing rules as required).

Originally published for Earth Day 2020 - the 50th Anniversary.  Now with updated links.