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Weather Alert: review these storm preparedness tips

Supporting the Efforts of all Volunteers of Community Associations

Doing good may be its own reward, but most volunteers across the Carolinas would probably agree that it’s nice to be recognized for the time, effort and commitment they’ve put into serving others—particularly in what can sometimes seem to be thankless roles.

Members of our communities devote their energy and enthusiasm to making communities in the Carolinas the very best they can be. Most of the time they do this by serving in important board positions and committees, and on neighborhood projects. Volunteers also help keep assessments down—every hour of volunteer work is an hour of labor that the Southern Community Service Home Owners Association does not have to pay a service provider.

Below are some easy ways to show your neighbors how much you appreciate their hard work.

  • Keep an eye out for those featured in our newsletter’s Volunteer Spotlight. When you see them, introduce yourself and say “Thanks!”
  • Join us for our annual volunteer appreciation celebration. Help us honor those who have donated their time throughout the year, and have some fun.
  • Send an e-mail to a volunteer explaining that he or she is valued for stepping up.

As volunteers, your neighbors invest their time in projects that benefit you and the Carolinas. No association can thrive without them; so let them know you appreciate their efforts.

Have an idea for recognizing volunteers? Contact a board member and share!

Down the Drain

Washing your car may seem like a great way to beat the southern heat and humidity this summer while accomplishing something constructive on your to-do list. But you might want to think twice about the environmental impact before you park your car in the driveway and pull out your bucket, hose and old towels.

Even if you use a biodegradable cleaner, the soapy water that runs off your car when you hose it down not only contains detergent, but residue from automobile fluids like oil, gasoline and antifreeze. Each time you rinse your car, the contaminated water flows untreated directly into the storm water system and eventually makes its way into streams and rivers. And, as the water runs out of your driveway and down the street toward the storm sewer, it also picks up other toxic substances, like fertilizers, petroleum deposits and surface paint from the pavement. Parking your car on a grassy area while you wash it may help some, but the toxins will end up in the groundwater eventually.

As an alternative, consider using a commercial carwash facility. Whether a conveyor type, self-service, in-bay automatic or custom hand-wash business, these establishments are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to capture and route their wastewater to a treatment facility before the water can be discharged into the sanitary sewer.

Toxic residues aren’t the only reason to take your car to a commercial car wash. Rinsing your car at home with a garden hose can use as much as 10 to 15 gallons of water per minute, while professional car wash facilities can limit the water flow to as little as three to five gallons per minute. If you spend an hour in your driveway washing your car, you may have sent as much as 150 gallons of contaminated water directly down the drain. This is especially important in a long South Carolina summer dry spell.

So help the environment and save time this summer: leave car washing to the professionals.


Tips for Keeping Water Clean

Keeping water clean begins with each of us—where we live, work and play, and with the simple daily actions we take. Here are a few ways you can make a difference to reduce pollution:


  • Plant trees, shrubs and groundcovers, especially around surface water. Vegetation acts as a natural filter for runoff entering ponds, lakes or streams. Plants can also prevent shoreline erosion and keep soil from washing away.
  • Clean up after your pets. Dispose of pet waste in the garbage.
  • Maintain a healthy lawn. A dense, healthy lawn can be an excellent filter for pollutants. Before you apply fertilizers, test your soil so you apply only what you need. Use the right fertilizer, at the right time and in the proper amount.
  • Practice integrated pest management (IPM) around your home and garden. IPM reduces pest problems through a variety of cultural, mechanical, biological and chemical methods. Try to eliminate chemical use or keep pesticide use to a minimum by using them only when other methods are not successful.
  • Maintain your vehicles in good condition to prevent leaks such as oil or antifreeze. Spilled motor oil, gasoline and lubricants can contaminate wells and streams.
  • Compost grass clippings, leaves and garden waste. When these materials are washed into streams and lakes, they decay, which in turn consumes oxygen fish and other aquatic animals need to survive.


Visit for more conservation tips.


Tips for Reducing Waste

Being careful about what you buy, consume and throw away may not seem all that exciting, even for the most committed environmental steward. But efficient daily practices and a little old fashioned common sense are good for the environment and your bottom line.

Use this checklist to see how many waste management and recycling practices you’ve implemented. Then make a plan of action to expand your efforts.

  • Make waste reduction a priority in your home.
  • Measure the volume or weight of the garbage you generate and set measurable reduction targets.
  • Purchase products with minimal packaging or packaging that can be recycled, or buy in bulk.
  • Repair or donate older or unwanted equipment and household goods to local charitable groups, rather than dispose of them.
  • Compost outdoor wastes such as grass clippings, leaves, and kitchen waste (no meat or onions).
  • Set up an area to collect recyclable of paper, glass, cardboard, aluminum, tin, and plastic.
  • Purchase durable furniture and equipment or products made of recycled material to reduce waste from inferior products.
  • Use cloth napkins, cloth lunch bags, sponges/dish rags, reusable plates, and reusable coffee filters instead of paper alternatives.
  • Reject wasteful consumption by carefully considering what you need and buying products that last.
  • Evaluate the waste you generate to identify and reduce your greatest sources of waste.
  • Measure the volume or weight of the garbage you generate and set measurable reduction targets.
  • Purchase recycled paper products, such as office paper, bathroom tissue, etc

Outdoor Water Conservation Tips

Even though we use water every day, it’s easy to take it for granted. Just imagine how you would function without clean water. It’s everyone’s responsibility to conserve and protect water resources. The decisions and actions you make today truly affect our water resources in the southeast for the future. The following suggestions will help you get in the habit of saving water in the great outdoors:

Ÿ Use mulch around landscape plantings. Mulch will help eliminate weeds and hold moisture in the soil.

Ÿ Get a rain gauge to measure rainfall. One inch of rain per week is generally sufficient for lawns and gardens. Supplement only when rainfall is inadequate.

Ÿ Water during the cool part of the day to avoid rapid evaporation.

Ÿ Select hardy plants that don’t need much water. Native plants that are well adapted to your climate and soils will survive well without supplemental watering.

Ÿ When watering is necessary, water slowly and thoroughly. If you notice puddles or runoff, turn water off and wait for water to soak in. Also be sure your sprinkler puts water where you need it—not on driveways or sidewalks.

Ÿ Raise the mowing height on your lawn mower. This promotes healthier grass that can better survive dry periods.

Ÿ Wash cars efficiently. First give the car a quick rinse, and then turn the water off. Wash one section of the car at a time and rinse that section quickly. Turn the water off each time.


Visit for more conservation tips.

Turn It On

As one of six essential nutrients, water is necessary for survival. But drinking it from disposable plastic bottles may not be the best idea. A better choice for your personal health, and the health of the environment, is to drink tap water.

Tap water might be healthier than bottled water—which often is tap water—because it is more highly regulated and monitored for quality. For more information about our community’s water source, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website at

Better for the Environment

Manufacturing, transporting and disposing of plastic water bottles adds to our carbon footprint in a big way. More than 17,000,000 barrels of oil are used annually to manufacture plastic water bottles. That’s enough oil to fuel one million cars for a year. It also takes three times the amount of water a plastic bottle actually holds to manufacture the bottle itself. Nearly 80 percent of empty plastic water bottles—as many as 140 million per day—end up in U.S. landfills. It will take centuries for those plastic water bottles to decompose, and during that time, the oil and other chemicals used to manufacture the bottles will leach into and contaminate the groundwater.

Better for Your Health

Reusing disposable plastic bottles isn’t a good idea either, because many formulas for those plastics include phthalates or Bisphenol A, which are potentially harmful substances. Repeatedly washing bottles made from #1 plastics (polyethylene terephthalate, or PET) in hot water, for instance, breaks down the plastic compounds and releases toxic substances into the contents.

A stainless steel water bottle is safer and more durable choice for portable water when you’re away from a faucet. Programs like Tap It and Back 2 Tap can help you find merchants in our area who offer tap water refills when they’re needed. For more information, visit and

Techno Trash

The proliferation of iPhones, iPads, smartphones and other personal communication devices in the last few years has made communications easier and more convenient. It also has created millions of tons of toxic electronic trash.

In the U.S. alone, Americans disposed of 126 million mobile phones in 2007, reports The Post. Also in the last five years, “the developing world has tripled its disposal of electronic junk.” While almost all parts of smartphones are recyclable, Martin Nielsen, chief executive of Waste Systems, says that the U.S. recycling rate for personal electronic devices is low—only 18 percent. In a report released by Electronics Takeback Coalition, the recycling rate for cell phones alone is even lower—a mere 10 percent.

Cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury are among the toxic and potentially cancer-causing substances used to construct smartphones and other personal electronics, according to a 2011 article in The Washington Post. When phones and other devices are discarded, these substances leach into the ground and water, poisoning plant, animal and sometimes human life.

With all the damage that improperly discarded electronic devices can cause, it’s important for everyone to know how to correctly dispose of them. Stores such as Best Buy, Radio Shack and Apple will recycle your unwanted electronics, regardless of where the device was purchased. You can also learn more about electronic recycling programs for individuals and businesses at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website,


Indoor Water Conservation Tips

As a homeowner, you can reduce your water consumption by 20-40 percent without purchasing expensive equipment. Reducing water use can mean substantial savings on water, sewage and energy bills. The following suggestions will help you get in the habit of saving water:


  • ŸRun automatic dishwashers only with a full load.
  • ŸAvoid the garbage disposal. It uses a lot of unnecessary water and can lead to problems with septic systems. Start a compost pile instead!
  • ŸKeep a container of water in the refrigerator for cold drinks. If you have to run your tap while waiting for cold water, collect running water in pitcher for later use.
  • ŸWhen washing dishes in the sink, use one side of the sink or a large bowl for rinsing rather than running water.


  • Conventional toilets use about five to seven gallons of water per flush. Placing two half-gallon plastic bottles filled with water in the tank can reduce water used for each flush.
  • ŸInstall a low-flow aerator on your shower-head and sink. These devices can be purchased at a hardware store and are easy to install. They reduce flow to approximately three gallons per minute instead of the usual five to 10 in a shower.
  • ŸTake shorter showers. During droughts, turn off water while soaping up.
  • ŸTurn off tap water while brushing your teeth or shaving.

Remember, when you use less water, you are also using less energy, leading to even greater savings. Residents can sometimes fall into a habit of overusing their water privileges, which results negatively on their water and electricity bill. Visit for more conservation tips.

Recycle that Cell Phone

The next time you’re ready to upgrade your cell phone, recycle the old one! If all the estimated 100 million dead cell phones were recycled, the U.S. could save enough energy to power more than 194,000 U.S. households with electricity for one year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of unwanted cell phones are recycled each year.

Recycling can help the environment by keeping usable and valuable materials out of landfills and incinerators. Cell phones are made of precious metals, copper and plastics, which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling these materials not only conserves resources, but reduces air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this year, the EPA teamed up with cell phone retailers, manufacturers and service providers to develop collection programs. Some charitable groups and state or municipal solid waste programs also offer cell phone recycling.

Saving Energy to Stay Cool

Energy bills—like the temperature—always rise in the summer. But don’t fret: while there are big fixes you can incorporate to make your home more energy-efficient, there are also many inexpensive energy solutions, as well as some simple and free steps that you can take to cut down on costs and save money. *

Turn it up. Set your thermostat as high as possible. Start with 78 degrees when at home and 85 degrees when away. For each degree above 72 you set the thermostat, you save between 1-3 percent. Be sure to take into consideration your health and comfort and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

Open nights. At night, if it’s cooler outside than in, open your windows! Not only will this bring some fresh air into your home, it will give you a chance to turn off the AC. Also, be sure to close your windows in the morning to keep the cooler air in longer.

Circulate air. Use fans to create cool breezes and keep the air moving in your home. Ceiling fans, in particular, can create enough air movement to make it cooler by at least four degrees. This could translate into a significantly lower monthly electric bill, as ceiling fans only use about as much energy as a 100-watt light bulb.

Unplug. Electronics—such as TVs, DVDs, chargers, computers, printers and other devices—use electricity even when they are turned off. By unplugging these devices when you’re not using them, you only save a few watts, but they quickly add up to bigger savings over time. Use a power strip for multiple devices, and switch it off before you go to bed. Also, turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.

Shut the shades. Windows allow a lot of heat into your home. Keep drapes and shades closed during the day to keep the temperature down.

Plan pool time. If you have a pool, shorten the operating time if possible. Switch the pool filter and sweeper operations to off-peak hours and during nighttime if the pool has automatic cleaning settings.

Wash and dry wisely. Run only full loads when using your dishwasher or washing machine. Whenever possible, run those appliances during off-peak hours or when your air conditioner is turned off or barely running, which typically is during the evening, to save energy. Use the clothes dryers’ moisture-sensing automatic drying setting if it has one, and clean your clothes dryers’ lint trap after each use.

*As always, be sure to consult with the homeowners association to get approval for any major renovations on your home.