Environmental Tips and Checklist

Environmental tips are published monthly in McMail. Check them out below (and, below you will find the EAC's environmental checklist, which was published in the April 2017 Town Crier):


February 2018

About two months ago, the EAC published a video showing some of its members practicing basic sustainability around the house, and asking for Town residents to share what they are doing. Here are a few things the Moore family of Grubbs Road are doing:

  • We don’t keep paper towels in the house, and only use cloth rags to clean up. Also, we use vinegar, citric acid, baking soda, and essential oils for cleaners.
  • We do keep regular paper tissues for guests, but we also have a box of little baby wash cloths and cut up t-shirts that can be used as tissues, washed, and reused. 
  • I used to cloth diaper my babies, though that has fallen to the side with four kids and homeschooling. I just can’t keep up with everything!
  • For lawn care, we have an electric push mower that is battery powered. Our yard is 1 acre, which is larger than recommended for the mower, but we also have a leaf blower that came with a compatible battery so we start with two fully charged batteries. Once the first is depleted, we recharge it while using the second one. It doesn’t fully recharge in that time but is usually enough to finish the lawn. If it is not enough, we finish the next day.
  • We do not use weed killer on our lawn; only organic fertilizer (Milorganite, which stinks but makes the grass very green). When there is poison ivy, I wear gloves and pull it by hand and use a grocery store bag to dispose of it in the garbage, using a double tying trick to “double bag” it with a single bag. So that is not terribly eco-friendly but I think it is better than using Roundup and I do try to get the whole yard cleared at once, so only one pair of gloves and bag are used until more grows in the yard.
  • We try to avoid using foil and plastic wrap in the fridge, instead using paper, silicone lids, or other plates to cover our leftovers.
  • We shop for secondhand items when it is practical to do so.

Thank you to Lindsay Moore and her family for sharing their sustainability tips with us. If you haven’t seen the video yet, check it out here. If you want to share what you are doing, contact us via email or 412-364-0616 Ext. 118.


December 2017

It is now December and the year is coming to and end. However, there is always time for tips to help all of our residents during the holiday season. So here are some tips for the upcoming winter season:

  1. There is one more leaf pickup on December 8. Make sure you have placed the last of your leaves to the curb.
  2. Make sure that all of the leaves are removed from the storm sewer grates.
  3. The snow is coming, so remember that you should not blow or shovel any of your you snow into the street.
  4. Make sure you do not leave your car on the street after a heavy snow, to assist Public Works in keeping our streets clean and safe.
  5. Did you know that the US Post Office will not deliver your mail if they can not get to your mailbox? Keep it clear of snow to get those holiday cards and gifts.
  6. Speaking of gifts, do you know that you can get solar powered toys? Just go on line and search for solar powered toys. They are great for the environment and reduce the use and cost of batteries.

On behalf of the Environmental Advisory Council, we wish you all a very pleasant holiday season and look forward to working for you in the new year to continue to make the Town of McCandless an environmentally safe and sustainable community.


November 2017

The leaves of fall are with us and (can you believe it?) so is the holiday season. This time of year means celebration and decorations, and along with it comes snow, ice, and cold weather. Here is a reminder of previous tips and some steps we can take to prepare for the weather and save energy.

Leaves:

To most of us leaves are a necessary evil for having at the shade from the trees. So what can we do? As we rake or blow our leaves, remember that the Town of McCandless provides leaf pickup during the fall.

  • Keep neat piles at the curb.
  • Do not cover catch basins with leaves, as they will block drainage from rain.
  • If you have compost piles, leaves are a good balance for grass weeds and other things in your compost pile.
  • You can also buy leaf bags at Lower or Home Depot if you like to bag your leaves.
  • Leaves are good to protect your perennials from the winter. Once cut, you can cover the roots with leaves.

Power Tools

The power tools we have been using need to be stored and new ones prepared for winter use.

  • Power mowers and lawn tractors should be stored with no gas in them. This eliminates a fire hazard and helps mechanically in spring.
  • It is time to prepare snow blowers. Power snow blowers should be serviced and fresh gas added. This will provide dependable service and reduce emissions in the air.

Holiday Decorations

  • If you are using electric power for outdoor decorations, use a timer to conserve energy.
  • LED lights use less energy than the older type lights.
  • Did you know you can take this further and purchase solar powered holiday lights for outside use?

October 2017

Fall is upon us and it is time to think about how we can all be stewards of the environment in the Town of McCandless. The leaves have already started to turn and in some neighborhoods they are already falling. It is also harvest season and we are now collecting fresh fruits and vegetables from our gardens. So what can we do to be stewards of the environment? Let’s take a look at some options.

Leaves

To most of us, leaves are a necessary evil for having at the shade from the trees. So what can we do? As we rake or blow our leaves remember that the Town of McCandless provides leaf pickup during the fall months (see the article a few items above).

  • Do not cover catch basins with leaves; they will block drainage from rain.
  • If you have compost piles, leaves are a good balance for grass weeds and other things in your compost pile.
  • Leaves are good to protect your perennials from the winter. Once cut, you can cover the roots with leaves.

Vegetable Gardens

If anyone has ever planted a garden, you know that when the vegetables become ready for picking they all are ready at the same time. So what can you do with this over-abundance?

  • You can some vegetables for use during the winter months and save money at the supermarket
  • You can share your abundance with neighbors
  • You can also donate the extra vegetables to the local food bank and help those less fortunate.
  • Don’t forget to place any of your damaged crops into your compost pile.

Around Our Homes

This is a good time to prepare your house for the winter months. You can save on gas bills and prevent fires by doing some simple tasks.

  • Look at the caulking around your windows. If it is old and cracking, now is a good time to replace that caulking.
  • When is the last time you had your furnace serviced? Dirt in the chambers steals valuable heat and increases gas usage.
  • Look at the ventilation ducts in your house. Are they insulated in your garage or other exposed areas that are taking heat from the living spaces?
  • Have your ventilation ducts ever been cleaned? Again a good way to minimize heat loss and gas cost.
  • If you have a chimney, and you burn logs, when was the last time you had your chimney cleaned? This is one of the major causes of house fires.

August 2017

The local environment involves three entities, the Town of McCandless, Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC), and the People of McCandless. We are all stewards of our community.

The Town of McCandless provides stewardship by the services it provides for the community of McCandless. This is accomplished by our Town Manager, Town Council, Police, Sanitary Authority, Public Works, Volunteer Fire Companies, and the many volunteers on boards and committees.

The recently established EAC provides stewardship by determining ways to maintain the environment. They recommend and advise Town Council of ways to improve the environment.

These are a few of the current initiatives:

  • Greenspace inventory (map and inventory of all green, open and park space in the Town)
  • Development of walking and hiking trails
  • Providing Environmental Tips and Check Lists
  • Visiting businesses throughout McCandless to ensure they are following recycling requirements
  • The residents of McCandless are stewards also. Many provide stewardship and don’t realize they are doing so. So how can the community in McCandless enhance the environment? Here are a few suggestions:
  • Ensure you are using the recycling opportunities the town provides through Waste Management.
  • Drainage and clean streets is a dual responsibility. The Public Works Department maintains drainage through street cleaning and maintenance of roads and systems.

Residents responsibilities include:

  • When mowing, do not discharge your clippings in the street. Pick them up and dispose of them properly.
  • During periods of heavy rain, Public Works can be overwhelmed with calls for clogged drainage basin covers. Assist them by keeping the basin covers in your neighborhood clear of debris to prevent street flooding.

July 2017

The die-off of America's honeybee colonies — which are disappearing in droves because of parasites, pesticides, poor nutrition and disease — leaves beekeepers scrambling to salvage the vital insects. The task of solving the honeybee problem, experts say, isn't isolated to beekeepers. A few changes to home patios and gardens can lend honeybees a much-needed assist.

Last year, reportedly a third of the nation's honeybee colonies died, which is low considering the bigger decreases of the last decade. This doesn't necessarily mean fewer bees. Beekeepers can salvage a dead colony, but it comes with labor and production costs.

Bees pollinate one out of every three bites of American food and $15 billion worth of crops annually. Planting specific flowers and herbs to create a bee-friendly yard could be your best option.

  1. Plant pollinator-friendly flowers - Honeybees help transfer pollen from plant to plant for reproduction. Planting a bee-friendly garden of "pollinator-friendly" flowers and herbs for bees to forage can be a game-changer. The National Honey Board (yes, this actually exists) recommends plants native to your area. The board recommends checking with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to find which plants my work best.

    Choose a sunny, not-so-breezy area. Plant your flowers and herbs in a place with enough sun to allow pollinators to grow, but also windless enough to not blow away delicate-winged pollinators.
  2. Set out water - Bees need water too. The Honey Board suggests setting out a "bee bath" in the form of a plate of water. A shallow container with marbles or rocks for bees to land also would work. Another option is a small bird bath or a decorative rock with spots where rainwater can collect. Bees use water to regulate their temperature, help with digestion and dilute stored honey.
  3. Watch the chemicals - Consider the pollinators when using pesticides and insecticides in your garden. Pulling weeds by hand can help, and introducing other insects could help fend of pests.

    If you do decided to use chemicals, follow the instructions carefully on the package. People should apply the chemicals early in the morning when bees and other pollinators aren't around. Also, don't spray them in other places where polinators may land.

June 2017

We now are entering into June and, soon, the beginning of summer. Our children will be out of school and more projects will begin in our homes and yards. So, let's talk about the debris from our projects abd what to do with them.

Our projects take on many forms. Some are major and require dismantling a room in our home or just remodeling a room. We also do outside projects, like building and replacing decks or replacing roofs.

Some of us hire a contractor to do the work and leave the hauling away of debris to the contractor. However, many are do-it-yourself projects, and it is your responsibility to remove the debris.

There is no dumping permitted in McCandless unless the property owner gives you specific permission and/or it is a permitted dumping site. So, how can we be more diligent when discarding debris from projects?

  1. You can hire a private hauler to take debris away. This includes the waste hauler contracted by the Town (currently Waste Management). There may be additional fees involved in using the contracted hauler.
  2. You can haul the debris yourself to an authorized site that accepts the type of materials you are disposing.
  3. You can donate materials that still are useful to different organizations.
  4. It is advisable that you read the Town of McCandless Ordinances listed below for more information:

May 2017

We are now into the spring lawn care and mowing season. If you have a lawn service, they have probably already made their first application. If you take care of your own lawn, you may or may not have fertilized your lawn. Have you ever considered the environment when you are treating your lawn?

Do you look at the ingredients of fertilizers and see what pesticieds are in them? Do you look to see how they affect the environment? More importantly, how could they affect your children or pets? Most popular fertilizers have pesticides or chemicals that affect the environment of our children and pets, as well as aquatic life if they make it to the water streams.

So, how can you be more diligent when treating your lawn in the spring, summer and fall? Here are some tips and facts:

  1. If you use a lawn service, do they have an organic alternative to the normal products that they apply to your lawn? Many do, but you have to ask that they use and organic method to treat your lawn. Check their websites or talk to the technician when they make their next application.
  2. If you treat your own lawn, purchase the organic products instead of the ones with pesticides and other chemicals that are dangerous to the environment. They may be a bit more expensive, but what is the price of the well-being of your children, pets and our environment?
  3. The following links will provide excellent information on the effects of pesticides:

April 2017

As spring finally has sprung, it is time to think about yard work and planting flowers and shrubs. Here are some tips from the Environmental Advisory Committee to help in your efforts to brighten up your properties and prepare for the tasks ahead:

  1. Service your power equipment, lawnmower, grass trimmer, and/or leaf and grass blower. Change the oil, replace the spark plugs and change the air filters. This will make your equipment run more efficiently and reduce pollutants.
  2. When cleaning your yard, place debris in a recyclable container or a bag. Yard waste containers (with the green lid) are available through Waste Management. Alternatively, residents can put out up to three paper composting bags of yard waste per week for collection.
  3. When planning your garden and landscaping for the season, consider native plants. Here are some native plants that are planted in the Point State Park Gardens:
    • Allegheny Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
    • American Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
    • Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)
    • Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia)
    • Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula)
    • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Many other native plants are planted in Point State Park Gardens and throughout the state. Click here for more information on native plants.


March 2017

  1. In winter/spring cleaning, use the least hazardous product to do the job; assess your needs and read the labels

    Especially in winter months, your house is closed and more airtight. Toxic products can concentrate fumes in the air you breathe and harm your health. Young children can be especially vulnerable to these effects. Water down your drain also carries residues from your home, and many harsh household chemicals are not removed by sewage treatment or septic systems.

    Instead of harsh chemicals, consider using safer cleaning products such as baking soda and vinegar. Use baking soda to scrub. Vinegar makes good window cleaner (mix 1/4 cup with 1 quart warm water).
  2. When camping or skiing, prevent pollution. Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but tracks.

    Growing numbers of people are using wild lands, and the pollution they leave behind can add up, damaging habitats and reducing the beauty of the area you came to enjoy. Pack out all trash; don't litter. Dispose of human waste properly. Use designated trails to preserve the beauty of parks and wild lands. Do not drive off-road vehicles through streams or rivers.

February 2017

We are stewards of our environment. There are many ways to play a part in this effort and some of them are in our own backyard. Here are some recycling tips that can be accomplished in the McCandless area.

What do you do with your plastic bags? Every Giant Eagle in the area accepts plastic bags for recycling. You can recycle your plastic bags every time you go shopping. Or, save the energy and material for production and recycling by using your own reusable bags.

Cardboard boxes can be recycled and used over and over again. The Town of McCandless provides containers for recycling cardboard in the lower parking lot of Town Hall. These containers can be used for excess or larger cardboard that does not fit into the residential recycling containers.

Many of the tools and toys we use today require batteries. This includes cars and boats. You can recycle your old batteries at any Batteries Plus Bulbs stores in the area. We have one on McKnight Road in Ross Township. When you are out running errands or shopping, bring your old batteries with you and drop them off.

Allegheny County has a pamphlet called the "Recycling Resource Directory" on the ACHD website. You can find it here. It is a great resource for tips and locations for recycling all types of materials.


January 2017

Here are some winter environmental tips brought to you by the Town of McCandless Environmental Advisory Committee:

  1. Conserve energy by turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees in the house and on the water heater, and turning off unused lights and computers. Not only will this lower your energy bills, but energy production from coal, oil and natural gas is one of the leading causes of greenhosue gases that contribute to global climate change.
  2. Avoid unnecessary engine idling. Turn off your vehicle engine when parked for more than 30 seconds, waiting in lines of for passengers. When you leave your car or truck running while it's parked or sitting still, the engine produces air pollution. This pollution contributes to problems like smog and global warming, besides being harmful to health. It is more gas-efficient to turn off most warmed-up vehicles than to idle for more than 30 seconds.
  3. Burn dry wood in your fireplace. Wet woods burns incompletely and releases more pollutants into the air. Not only does this smoke end up drifting toward your neighbors, but it can settle around your own house and be drawn back into your home. Respiratory diseases (like asthma) are a serious and growing health threat, and tine particulates and pollution in wood smoke are among the causes.