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How To's and Tips

For Bay restoration to be a success, we all must do our part. Our everyday actions - from fertilizing our lawns and using water to driving our cars to work and school - have a major impact on the Bay, one that can't be fixed by government and non-profit restoration partners alone. By making simple changes in our lives, each one of us can take part in restoring the Bay and its rivers for future generations to enjoy.

Reduce Food Waste

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Don't throw egg shells in the trash—use them in garden as fertilizer, pest control or mulch.

Conserve Water

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If you water your lawn, do so in the early morning, when the water will not evaporate in the heat of the day. Make sure the water gets completely on the lawn, not on sidewalks or driveways.

Reduce Herbicide Use

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Instead of chemical weed killers, try dousing weeds with boiling water, table salt or vinegar, or pulling them out and digging up the roots.

Foster environmental literacy

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Look for ways to incorporate the environment into book reports or class book discussions. Eco-Fiction has a list of young adult books with environmental themes.

Foster environmental literacy

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Teach students about issues such as climate change, forests and blue crabs to engage them with what’s happening in the environment where they live. Bay Backpack is a site designed to help teachers create environmental lessons for students and contains hundreds of resources on a variety of topics.

Walk or bike to school

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Cut emissions entirely by arranging a bike train or group walk to school.

Carpool to school

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Reduce emissions by arranging a carpool in your neighborhood.

Swap clothing

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Consider a clothing swap with classmates or donate clothes that don’t fit anymore. For schools with uniforms, set up a day to exchange skirts, pants and shirts that have been outgrown for larger sizes.

Encourage recycling

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Check out your school’s recycling programs. Are recycling bins available and are people encouraged to use them? Make sure you know what can and can’t be recycled, and spread the word.

Reduce waste

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Use a lunch box instead of plastic or paper bags for lunch. Buy reusable, sealed containers for drinks, sandwiches, snacks and other lunch items instead of re-sealable plastic bags.

Reuse school supplies

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Before buying new school supplies, take a look at what you already have. Reuse notebooks, folders and other supplies that are still in good condition from previous years.

Reduce waste

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When buying school supplies, look for items made out of recycled materials. For example, buy notebooks and pencils made from 100% post-consumer content.

How to Practice Gyotaku

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This Japanese art of fish printing was developed over 100 years ago as a way for fisherman to record the size and species of their catch. (Read Article)

Save Fuel

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Avoid hauling cargo on your roof rack. Transporting items on top of your car increases drag and uses more fuel.

Reduce Waste

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Go paperless when possible. Email documents, share electronic files and review documents on a screen instead of printing to reduce the amount of waste produced.

Prevent Pollution

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When doing maintenance work on your boat, make sure to stay on land instead of at the dock or in the water. If work is done off land, take precautions to keep waste from the water.

Reduce Sediment Pollution

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Try to avoid using your boat in very shallow waters, where it can stir up sediment, harm sensitive habitats and put your propeller and hull at risk for damage.

Save Fuel

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Take advantage of your car's cruise control! This feature helps maintain a constant speed, which can reduce fuel consumption.

Recycle Scrap Tires

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Most states ban tires from being disposed of at landfills, but you can take scrap tires to shops or retailers that will reuse, recycle or retread them.

Reduce Emissions

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To cut back on the emissions caused by commuting, encourage working from home or biking, taking public transit, carpooling or walking to work.

Save Energy

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Encourage co-workers to shut down their computers, power off their monitors and turn off the lights when they leave the office for the day.

Prevent Spills

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Because gasoline can expand and contract, it's best to only fill your boat's gas tank about 90 percent of the way full. This leaves room for gas to expand without overflowing the tank.

Use Toxic-Free Paints

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In order to prevent fouling, some paints contain metals, which can damage marine life. Consider using a less toxic paint on your hull, and prevent paint from polluting the water by using non-abrasive cleaning materials.

Reduce Greywater

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When you need soap on the water, make sure to use phosphate-free or biodegradable products. But whenever possible, save dish-washing and showering for land!

Share Resources

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Living in an urban or metropolitan region can make it easy to avoid owning a car. Instead, utilize ride-sharing services, carpooling or public transit. By not driving, you can reduce your average carbon footprint.

Recycle Used Vehicles

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If your car is nearing the end of its life with you, you don’t have to send it to the junk yard—you can donate it! Many non-profits accept cars as donations and will repair or recycle the vehicle.

Save Fuel

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Rapid acceleration and frequent breaking increases fuel consumption, and can endanger yourself and others. Driving less aggressively lets you save fuel and keep safe.

How to Begin Birding This Winter

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Cold weather doesn’t have to keep you from exploring nature in the Bay region. Winter bird watching is a great way to learn more about local wildlife and contribute to citizen science. (Read Article)

Reduce Runoff

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Protect the soil below your gutter downspout by using drainage tiles or splash blocks to redirect and slow stormwater, or by letting downspouts flow into rain barrels, rain gardens or a permeable layer of rocks.

Prevent Erosion

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Trying to build a garden on a sloped yard? To keep your topsoil from running into local waterways, you can build raised beds or create contours parallel to the slope of your yard.

Avoid Pesticide Pollution

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If a pesticide spills or leaks, don't use a hose to clean up. Soak up the liquid with an absorbent material like sawdust or kitty litter, then sweep the material into a plastic bag and clean the area with a mixture of water and bleach.

Conserve Water

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Let trees create their own mulch! Allow leaves and other plant matter to collect under your trees to maintain moisture, control temperature and prevent erosion.

Reduce Erosion

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Planting groundcover on sparsely vegetated areas of your lawn discourages erosion and sediment runoff.

Save Energy

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Unplug appliances like coffeemakers, toasters and televisions when no one is using them. For harder to reach outlets, plug devices into a power strip that can easily be switched off.

Reduce Hazardous Waste

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Use mercury-free, non-toxic thermometers. Mercury thermometers should be disposed of at a household hazardous waste facility.

Conserve Water

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To reduce water use in the kitchen, try washing fruits and vegetables in a large bowl or tub of water rather than under the faucet.

Conserve Water

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Scraping or wiping off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher allows you to skip the pre-wash cycle and save water.

Save Energy

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Most of the energy required for washing clothes is spent heating water. To save energy, set your washing machine to cold water or the woolens setting.

Save Energy

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Much of our home energy is supplied by coal, the burning of which sends pollutants into the air. If possible, set your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to cut down on your energy use.

Use Reusable Products

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Instead of single-use products, use reusable cloth items like canvas grocery bags, cloth napkins or cloth diapers.

How to Recycle Your Electronics

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Each year, between 22 and 55 tons of electronics enter the waste stream. Most end up in an incinerator or a landfill, but you can help keep our air, land and water clean by recycling your mobile phone, personal computer and other electronic devices. (Read Article)

How to Pick a Crab

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The summertime crab feast is a Chesapeake Bay tradition. Learn how to dig in with this guide to picking a blue crab. (Read Article)

How to Construct a Compost Pile

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Composting is a cost-effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and put organic waste to work. Your homemade compost can then be used to feed household and garden plants. (Read Article)

How to Build a Rain Barrel

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Rain barrels collect and store rainwater that runs out of a downspout or off of a roof, keeping runoff out of our rivers and streams. While unsafe for drinking, this water can be used to water plants or wash cars. (Read Article)

Create an Infiltration Trench

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Infiltration trenches are one of the most effective ways to keep polluted stormwater from reaching local waterways.

Create a Rain Garden

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Rain gardens can add value to your home and absorb more water than a conventional lawn.

Create a Stormwater Pond

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Create a stormwater pond to collect runoff and protect downstream property owners from flooding.

How to Dispose of Leaves the Bay-Friendly Way

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Fallen leaves don't have to end up in the landfill or the burn pile. Instead, consider mulching, composting or curbside collection. (Read Article)

Reduce Air Pollution

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Use electric or manual lawn mowers and yard tools instead of gas-powered machines that can pollute our air.

Be Bay-Friendly at Work

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Encourage your coworkers to be Bay-friendly by packing trash-free lunches, recycling office paper or using less water and electricity.

Prevent Invasive Species

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Thoroughly clean your boat hull and all fishing gear before moving to another body of water.

Reduce Pesticide Use

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Instead of applying chemical pesticides to your sidewalk or garden, use boiling water to kill weeds, ant colonies and other pests.

Keep Sewage On Board

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Keep sewage on board your boat in a portable toilet or holding tank. Dispose of it only at an approved pump-out facility.

Improve Wildlife Habitat

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Plant a wide variety of plants, trees and shrubs in your yard to attract different kinds of wildlife.

Prevent Soil Erosion

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Spread mulch over bare ground to prevent soil erosion and stop the flow of polluted runoff from your lawn into local waterways.

Fish Responsibly

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Follow fishing regulations like size or bag limits to help protect the Bay's fish stocks.

Avoid Paved Surfaces

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Instead of asphalt or concrete, use porous surfaces like gravel or pavers to pave your driveway or patio.

Use Toxic-Free Personal Products

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Use eco-friendly lotions, cosmetics and perfumes to keep toxic chemicals from washing off of our bodies and into our waterways.

Use Fertilizer Properly

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Do not apply fertilizer to dormant lawns or frozen ground, where it could easily run off your property and into storm drains.

Use Toxic-Free Cleaning Products

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Use eco-friendly cleaning products to keep toxic chemicals out of our waterways. Plain soap and water can rid surfaces of bacteria and are safer for our water supply.

Conserve Water

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Instead of sprinklers, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to water your lawn and garden.

How to Test Your Soil

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A simple test can let you know what nutrients are in your soil, and what nutrients are lacking. Learn how to test your soil to help garden plants grow their best. (Read Article)

How to Drive the Bay-Friendly Way

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Most of us can’t stop driving altogether. But there are lots of ways we can send less pollution into our air and water—and save a few extra gallons at the same time. (Read Article)

Fish Responsibly

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Practice proper catch-and-release fishing techniques to avoid harming and killing the Bay's fish.

Reduce Polluted Runoff

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Make sure your home's downspouts drain onto grass or gravel rather than paved driveways or sidewalks.

Test Your Soil

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Test your soil to determine how much fertilizer—if any—your lawn needs and the best time to apply it.

Drive Less

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When possible, walk, bike or take public transportation to reduce vehicle emissions that can pollute our air and water.

Reduce Emissions

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Avoid letting your car idle. Idling for even 10 seconds can waste fuel, damage your engine and pollute our air and water.

Stash Your Trash

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Stow and secure used bags, bottles, fishing lines and other trash on your boat so litter doesn't fall into the water.

Don't Overapply Fertilizer

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Use only the amount of lawn fertilizer you need. Twice the product won't make your lawn twice as green!

Prevent Fuel Spills

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Prevent fuel spills by using a funnel and not "topping off" when you fill your boat's fuel tank.

Recycle Used Motor Oil

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Properly dispose of used motor oil and antifreeze. Many gas stations and landfills have oil recycling programs.

Prevent Invasive Species

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Never dump bait or aquarium species into a storm drain or body of water. Introduced species can become invasive.

Fix Car Leaks

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Fix car leaks so engine fluids like oil and antifreeze don't drip onto the ground and run off into local waterways.

Conserve Water

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Put a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up. Use the extra water for plants or pet bowls.

Compost Kitchen Scraps

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Instead of throwing kitchen scraps down the garbage disposal, compost them to create a rich soil for potted and in-ground plants.

Clean Your Boat Properly

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Use extreme caution when painting and cleaning your boat to avoid polluting the water.

Reduce Polluted Runoff

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Wash your car on grass or gravel rather than pavement so soapy, grimy wash water won't run off your property.

Join a Carpool

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Carpool to work or school to reduce vehicle emissions that can pollute our air and water.

Avoid Bay Grass Beds

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Steer clear of bay grass beds in shallow waters to avoid harming this critical habitat and food source.

Start an Environmental Club

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Start or join an environmental club at your school to help raise awareness of Bay-related issues.

How to Choose and Use Native Plants

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Planting native plants is an excellent way to increase wildlife habitat and help the Chesapeake Bay. Learn which trees, shrubs and flowers are native and how to choose the best plants for your yard. (Read Article)

Plant Trees and Shrubs

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Plant more trees and shrubs in your yard to reduce erosion, capture runoff and provide habitat for wildlife.

Use Deicer Properly

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Apply no more than the recommended amount of deicer to melt ice on your steps or driveway.

Properly Dispose of Waste

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Encourage your marina owner to maintain an adequate pump-out facility if one is not available.

Use Pesticides Properly

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Never use more pesticides than you need. Take care to store chemicals properly so containers do not leak.

Fix Leaky Faucets

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Fix leaky toilets and faucets. A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water per day.

Dispose of Chemicals Properly

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Follow safe (and legal) disposal methods for household chemicals like paint or motor oil.

Maintain Your Septic System

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Do not plant trees or shrubs near your septic drain field. Roots clog septic drain lines and cause overflows.

Dispose of Medicine Properly

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To keep medicine out of our waterways, don't pour expired or leftover drugs down the sink or flush them down the toilet. Instead, return unused medicine to a consumer drug return location or foul your medication with coffee grounds or cat litter and put it in the trash.

Pick Up Pet Waste

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Pick up after your pet. Pet waste contains nutrients and bacteria that can wash into local waterways if left on the ground.

Conserve Water

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Put a sand-filled jug in your toilet tank. You'll save about one half-gallon of water with each flush.

Reduce Pesticide Use

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Make your own garden insect repellents using common household items like garlic, vinegar and cooking oil.

Maintain Your Septic System

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Have your septic system pumped out every three to five years to prevent accidental sewage overflows.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

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Plant a buffer of trees and shrubs around the edge of your property to capture polluted runoff.

Install a Rain Barrel

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Install a rain barrel underneath your home's downspout to capture rainwater from your roof. You can use this water to keep your garden green.

Keep Fertilizer Off Hard Surfaces

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Keep lawn fertilizer off hard surfaces like walkways and driveways, where it can easily wash into storm drains.

Don't Use Fertilizer as a Deicer

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Never use lawn fertilizer as a deicer. It contains nutrients that can run off your property and pollute local waterways.

Compost Fallen Leaves

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Instead of spending hours raking, blowing and bagging fallen leaves, try composting them instead.

"Grasscycle" Lawn Clippings

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Instead of fertilizing, leave leftover grass clippings on your lawn for a natural source of nitrogen.

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