10 Things You Can Do To Sustain Arlington

10 Things You Can Do To Sustain Arlington

The sea lions at the National Zoo attract the attention of a young visitor. The sign next to the exhibit points out the damage plastics do to sea life.

The sea lions at the National Zoo attract the attention of a young visitor. The sign next to the exhibit points out the damage plastics do to sea life.

Are you new to Arlington? There is much you can do to help to maintain the quality of life for which Arlington is known and join the “save the planet” trend taking off in NOVA. It is a great way to meet people as these groups love new volunteers. What can you do? 

SUPPORT the local groups who engage on the environment: One popular annual event is coming up on Sept. 23 at Barcroft Park, 4200 South Four Mile Run, Arlington, 22206. EcoAction Arlington will remove trash and debris from Barcroft Park and Four Mile Run. They will also do a trash tally in conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup that is locally managed by Clean Virginia Waterways. Everyone is welcome. This is a great event for families and groups of up to 10 To register, see: https://www.ecoactionarlington.org/get-involved/events/ 

THE TREE in Arlington is a subject of great debate. It is declining. The Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria is another group providing an opportunity to improve tree canopy in our community, particularly in areas where trees have been less of a priority. www.treestewards.org

FEELING political? The Virginia Grassroots Coalition Climate and Clean Energy Working Group are advocates for legislation in Richmond that protects the environment, and protecting the legislation passed previously that is now in danger of being reversed. See: https://www.virginiagrassroots.org/advocacy-wg-Climate-Clean-Energy.php

RECYCLE: Arlington has an ambitious plan to incorporate zero waste principles consistent with the county's adopted target of at least 90% waste diversion from landfill or incineration by 2038. To get there, residents need to follow guidance on reducing, recycling, and reusing. The recycling program in the county is excellent. But it’s not the same as, for instance, Austin’s recycling program, where you put recyclables in a plastic bag. In Arlington NO PLASTIC BAGS are allowed in the blue bin. They break the machines that sort plastics. NO GLASS BOTTLES are allowed in the blue bin. Those can go to a purple bin located off Washington Boulevard and another off Langston Boulevard (see website below.) Arlington’s Central Library is also offering to help people fix broken items instead of throwing them away. For complete recycling and reusing information, see: https://www.arlingtonva.us/Government/Programs/Recycling-and-Trash/Residential/Curbside-Recycling-Trash

REUSE and RENEW: Arlington’s Central Library has a new program to help people fix broken items instead of throwing them away. Called “Fix Nearly Anything” it will take place Thursday, Sept. 14 from 6-8 p.m. at The Shop, Arlington Central Library. If you have small items around your house that are broken, or need repair but you don’t want or can’t hire a handyman to do it, Library staff and volunteers will help you figure out how to fix them. Drop by anytime between 6-8 p.m. during Open Shop hours. For more information please contact 703-228-7718 or email LIB-Makers@arlingtonva.us. 

REFUSE: Try five simple tips for cutting down on plastic: Use refillable water containers or boxed water instead of plastic water bottles, which take 450 years to break down and add to the microplastics in your body. Use your own shopping bag and avoid the five cents per bag that Arlington charges when you take home groceries in a plastic bag. Avoid plastic straws. Use paper or compostable sandwich bags. Mom’s Organic Market on Langston Boulevard carries these. Laundry sheets and shampoo (and soap) bars are available in most grocery stores now, and cut down on plastic jugs and plastic bottles of “body wash.” For more helpful hints on how to get rid of plastic in your everyday life, see: www.plastictides.org

Arlington has an active program to promote a walkable and bikeable county. See https://www.walkarlington.com/ and https://www.bikearlington.com/

PLANT NATIVE plants and ground covers instead of grass. Avoid chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides on lawns and around the yard. Roundup and other weed killers are unhealthy for people and pets. Using natural native ground covers that need less watering and mowing also helps avoid the “perfect lawn” trap. Use mosquito dunks instead of hiring a service: dunks are bee-friendly. 

COMPOST: Arlington County's award-winning residential food scrap collection bolsters sustainability by diverting biodegradable waste from incineration to composting. The county gives residents a green bin so they can discard organic material from the yard like weeds AND put in (compostable) bags of household kitchen waste like apple cores, banana peels, vegetable peels, and COOKED food that otherwise goes in the garbage can. This is an amazing program very few localities offer for free. Use the handy guide, “If it GROWS, it GOES” to know what can go in the green bin. One of the benefits is a supply of compost made available to residents at the Earth Products Yard, where you can also pick up wood and leaf mulch. You can even compost dirty pizza boxes in the green bin (not in the blue bin.) See: https://www.arlingtonva.us/Government/Programs/Recycling-and-Trash/Residential/Organics-Waste/Food-Scraps-Collection

Arlington has a problem with stormwater management and residents can help water become absorbed better by planting trees and avoiding asphalt and cement driveways. Use rain barrels, rain gardens, and permeable surfaces for driveways and walkways. Plant canopy trees, not Crepe Myrtles. Arlington facilitates the planting of native trees on private property through two programs: the Tree Distribution program and the Tree Canopy Fund. The Annual Fall Free Tree Distribution allows residents one free tree per residential property. The Tree Canopy Fund provides for planting trees to restore and increase Arlington’s tree cover, giving grants to community groups to plant and maintain trees on private property. See: https://www.arlingtonva.us/Government/Programs/Sustainability-and-Environment/Trees/Plant-Trees/Tree-Planting-Programs