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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.

Dispose of Mercury Thermometers Properly

Photo Credit: Santiago Nicolau/Flickr

Use non-toxic thermometers. Dispose of mercury thermometers at a household hazardous waste facility.

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Owen Lin/Flickr

Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water rather than under the faucet.

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Rob Nunn/Flickr

Scrape or wipe off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher to skip the pre-wash cycle and save water.

Save Energy

Photo Credit: Shinichi Higashi/Flickr

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

Photo Credit: Jonathan Harford/Flickr

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.

Reduce Waste

Photo Credit: Patricia H. Schuette/Flickr

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

How to Recycle Your Electronics

Photo Credit: rgordon/Flickr

Each year, between 22 and 55 tons of electronics are disposed of. 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

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Photo Credit: Kirsty Hall/Flickr

Composting is a cost-effective way to remove organic matter from the waste cycle and reduce your carbon footprint. Once you create compost, it can be used to feed your household and garden plants. (Read Article)

How to Build a Rain Barrel

Photo Credit: Will Merydith/Flickr

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

Create an Infiltration Trench

Photo Credit: Sustainable_Sanitation/Flickr

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

Create a Rain Garden

Photo Credit: Linda_N/Flickr

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

Create a Stormwater Pond

Photo Credit: Aaron Volkening/Flickr

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 shouldn't end up in the landfill or the burn pile. Instead, consider mulching, composting or curbside collection. (Read Article)

Reduce Air Pollution

Photo Credit: SarahMcGowan/Flickr

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

Be Bay-Friendly at Work

Photo Credit: Sustainable Furnishings/Flickr

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

Prevent Invasive Species

Photo Credit: John Kirriemuir/Flickr

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

Reduce Pesticide Use

Photo Credit: Scott Akerman/Flickr

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

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Photo Credit: Chad Horwedel/Flickr

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

Reduce Polluted Runoff

Photo Credit: Mike Hiatt/Flickr

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

Fish Responsibly

Photo Credit: Russ Anderson/Flickr

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

Reduce Polluted Runoff

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Use Chemical-Free Personal Products

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Use chemical-free lotions, cosmetics and perfumes to keep chemicals from washing off of our bodies and into our waterways.

Use Fertilizer Properly

Photo Credit: eddie.welker/Flickr

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

Use Chemical-Free Cleaning Products

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

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Joby Elliott/Flickr

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

How to Test Your Soil

Photo Credit: Image courtesy Flatbush Gardener/Flickr

Knowing what nutrients are in your soil can help plants and the Bay! (Read Article)

How to Drive the Bay-Friendly Way

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Photo Credit: Michael Land

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

Reduce Polluted Runoff

Photo Credit: daryl_mitchell / Flickr

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

Test Your Soil

Photo Credit: Team Tanenbaum/Flickr

Test your soil to determine how much fertilizer your lawn needs (if any at all) and the best time to apply it.

Reduce Emissions

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Reduce Emissions

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Prevent Fuel Spills

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Recycle Used Motor Oil

Photo Credit: kevinkarnsfamily / Flickr

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

Prevent Invasive Species

Photo Credit: Najat Ahmad / Flickr

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

Fix Car Leaks

Photo Credit: Sarah German / Flickr

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

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Photo Credit: SaltyGrease/Flickr

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

Photo Credit: ristok/Flickr

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

Reduce Polluted Runoff

Photo Credit: thisisbossi / Flickr

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

Reduce Emissions

Photo Credit: tyger_lyllie / Flickr

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

Avoid Bay Grass Beds

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Start an Environmental Club

Photo Credit: Simon Garcia/Flickr

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

How to Choose and Use Native Plants

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Plant Trees and Shrubs

Photo Credit: ds4832/Flickr

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

Reduce Polluted Runoff

Photo Credit: Marvin O./Flickr

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

Properly Dispose of Waste

Photo Credit: NOAA

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

Use Pesticides Properly

Photo Credit: Michelle Tribe/Flickr

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

Fix Leaky Faucets

Photo Credit: Doug/Flickr

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

Use Native Plants

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Plant native flowers, shrubs and trees. They often require less water and can attract birds, butterflies and honeybees.

Turn Off the Faucet

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Turn off the faucet while you shave, brush your teeth and wash dishes. Save water and the Bay.

Dispose of Chemicals Properly

Photo Credit: felix.castor/Flickr

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

Maintain Your Septic System

Photo Credit: ds4832/Flickr

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

Dispose of Medicine Properly

Photo Credit: David Goehring/Flickr

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

Photo Credit: rolftoch/Flickr

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

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Amarand Agasi/Flickr

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

Reduce Pesticide Use

Photo Credit: Scott Robinson/Flickr

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

Maintain Your Septic System

Photo Credit: WindRanch/Flickr

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

Plant Trees and Shrubs

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Install a Rain Barrel

Photo Credit: robertstinnett/Flickr

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.

Use Fertilizer Properly

Photo Credit: thomasbrandt/Flickr

Do not apply fertilizer to drainage areas in your yard, where it could easily run off your property.

Keep Fertilizer Off Hard Surfaces

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Photo Credit: eddie.welker/Flickr

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

Install a Low-Flow Showerhead

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo/Flickr

Install a low-flow showerhead, which can save about one gallon of water per minute.

Compost Fallen Leaves

Photo Credit: mksfly/Flickr

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

"Grasscycle" Lawn Clippings

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

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

Use Safer Pesticides

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Use weed and insect-control products that contain plant-derived, non-toxic ingredients.

Fertilize in the Fall

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

If you need to fertilize your lawn, do it in the fall. Spring rains wash fertilizer off lawns and into local waters.

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Siddhartha Lammata/Flickr

Water your lawn and garden in the early morning or early evening to reduce evaporation and save water.

Keep Your Drain Fat-Free

Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan/Flickr

Don't pour fat, oil or grease down your drain. They can clog pipes and lead to sewage overflows over time.

Know Your Grass

Photo Credit: Max Wheeler/Flickr

Identify the grass growing in your yard so you can care for it properly. For example, cool-season grasses are best fertilized in fall.

Take Shorter Showers

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Take shorter showers. Cutting your shower time by five minutes can save 10-12 gallons of water per shower.

Conserve Water

Photo Credit: Jason Toney / Flickr

To save water, only run your dishwasher and washing machine when they are full.

Reduce Polluted Runoff

Photo Credit: ewitch / Flickr

Bring your car to a car wash instead of washing it at home. Car washes often clean and recycle wash water.

Observe Wake Laws

Photo Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Follow speed limits and no-wake laws to avoid churning up sediment, harming underwater grasses and speeding up erosion on nearby shorelines.

How to Deice the Bay-Friendly Way

Photo Credit: user/Flickr

In large doses, many popular snow and ice removal methods can be harmful to our local waterways. Read on for some helpful guidelines for removing snow and ice the Bay-friendly way. (Read Article)

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