Community cleanups across the Bluegrass need everyone to pitch in

Lawrenceburg's Main Street Clean Sweep crew (Photo provided)As the region’s beautiful scenery springs to life, Bluegrass Greensource volunteers will be working with communities to create a clean, healthy environment for residents and visitors. And we want you to join us.

There are plenty of opportunities for you, your family and community groups to volunteer to benefit our environment this spring. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and get out with your family or community group to pitch in to make the Bluegrass a better, healthier place to live and visit.

April Volunteer Opportunities:

4/11: Reforest the Bluegrass, throughout region
4/17: Downtown Trash Bash, Lexington
4/18: Garrard County Watershed Festival, Garrard County
4/22: Main Street Clean Sweep, throughout region
4/25: Boyle County Watershed Festival, Boyle County
4/25: Arbor Day at the Arboretum, Lexington

If you or your group or organization are looking for a fun Earth Day project – Main Street Clean Sweep is for you Main Street Clean Sweep is a community-led litter clean-up coordinated by Bluegrass Greensource (sponsored by PNC Bank and Republic Services). Last year Main Street Clean Sweep had more than 400 participants from counties and collected 286 bags of trash. This year 17 communities have committed to participating, and we hope to have over 1,000 participants across 12 counties. Supplied with trash bags, volunteers will clean up 17 communities around the Bluegrass. The more volunteers we have – the more miles we can cover.

Cleanups are planned in Burgin, Cynthiana, Frankfort, Georgetown, Harrodsburg, Irvine, Lancaster, Midway, Nicholasville, Paris, Richmond, Sadieville, Stamping Ground, Stanford, Versailles, Wilmore, and Winchester from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., rain or shine. On April 22, you can pick up your trash bags, gloves, t-shirts (adults who pre-register) and stickers (kids) at local kick-off locations. Individuals and business are encouraged to clean designated areas in their communities.

For more information about Main Street Clean Sweep or any volunteer opportunities, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Ashley Bryant Cheney, at To register for Main Street Clean Sweep, click here or call 859-266-1572.

Ashley photo

Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in osychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in urban studies and community development from Eastern University.

This article appeared in KY Forward on April 2, 2015.


New year is an opportunity to do new, better things; join GreenForce

Green Acres trash cleanup (Photo provided)Whether you reflect proudly on your many accomplishments in the past year or you can’t wait to turn a new page and look toward the future, the new calendar year is an opportunity to do new and better things.

Whether your resolution is to become healthier, learn a new skill or be happier, there is one you can do to help you get there: volunteer.

Volunteering in your community is the resolution that keeps on giving. You could say that volunteering is the perfect New Year’s resolution, because it brings so many great benefits. Volunteerism has countless benefits to the community, but it also benefits the health and happiness of individuals who commit to volunteering.

People who volunteer report physical, mental and emotional health benefits. “Doing Good is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study” reveals key benefits of volunteering that make a positive impact on people’s health including feeling better mentally, physically and emotionally.

No matter how you decide to volunteer, you will also help create and support a healthier community. Whether you have an hour a week or an unlimited amount of time to commit, you need to get out in the community and volunteer. Often, the best way we can make the world a better place is by starting with our own neighborhood.

There are hundreds of places to volunteer all throughout Kentucky, so find an organization in your community that interests you. If you are ever interested in volunteering in the realm of environmental education, give Bluegrass Greensource a call. We have many different kinds of volunteer opportunities.

In fact, Bluegrass Greensource is launching a new volunteer program in 2015 called Bluegrass GreenForce. Joining the GreenForce is an opportunity for you to be trained on important environmental issues, lead stream cleanups and storm-drain stenciling events, collaborate with our education and outreach staff, educate the community at community events, and implement your own ideas for greening Central Kentucky.

If you are interested in volunteering with Bluegrass Greensource, email or call 859-266-1572.

Ashley photo

Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in osychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in urban studies and community development from Eastern University.

This article appeared in KY Forward on January 8, 2015.


Conserving water is more about what you don’t ‘use’ instead of what you do


When people think about conserving water, they usually think about turning off the faucet while brushing their teeth or making sure the washing machine is full before running a load. The biggest waste of water, however, is the one few people give much thought to.

In the United States, one person will typically use between 80 and 100 gallons of water a day. It is the water that we are not “using” that is the real problem. A dripping faucet can lose up to 180 gallons and a leaky toilet can use 90,000 gallons of water in a month. A leak as small as an eighth of an inch can waste more than one-quarter of a million gallons of water in a three-month period and add more than $200 to your quarterly water and sewer charges.

Finding and fixing leaks is an easy way to save money and save water. You can avoid costly surprises on your water bill and conserve water by performing periodic leak checks in your home. Often you don’t know if you have a leak, especially if you have a problem with your underground water line or irrigation system. If you have an unusually high water bill, you may have a leak. But how can you tell?

Toilets are a common source of leaks. A quick check can be made by placing a few drops of food coloring into the tank after it has filled and quieted, and watching for its appearance in the bowl. If there is a leak, then color should appear within 15 to 30 minutes. Two common leak sites are at the overflow pipe and the flapper valve (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)

If your toilet still leaks after trying the repairs, or you do not feel comfortable doing the repairs yourself, you may need the assistance of a plumber or handyman. The cost to fix the leak will be covered by the money you will save in water and sewer charges.

Your water meter can also indicate whether you have a leak. Challenge the family to not use any water for two hours. During that time, check the water meter. If the dial moves at all, check all the faucets, spigots, sinks, etc., for any signs of a leak. If you find a leaky faucet or a drip under the sink, fix these leaks ASAP.

Kentucky American Water also offers leak detection information through their Leak Detection Guide found here.

If you don’t see any leaks, you might have a bigger problem underground or in your walls.

Some signs of underground leaks include:

• Unusually wet spots in landscaped areas and/or water pooling on the ground surface

• An area that is green, moldy, soft or mossy surrounded by drier conditions

• A notable drop in water pressure/ flow volume

• A sudden problem with rusty water, dirt or air in the water supply (there are other causes for this besides a leak)

• Heaving or cracking of paved areas

• Sinkholes or potholes

• Uneven floor grade or leaning of a structure

• Unexplained sudden increase in water use, consistently high water use or water use that has been climbing at a fairly steady rate for several billing cycles.

If you suspect a leak, you may need to hire a professional leak detection company to pinpoint its exact location and a contractor to perform the repairs.

If you do not have any leaks, there are a couple of steps you can take to prevent leaks from forming due to cold weather. Disconnect your water hose before freezing weather hits. Until warm weather arrives again, your best home plumbing practice is to disconnect, wrap up and pack away your garden hose. Leaving a hose outside in winter can cause water left inside to freeze and expand, freezing your faucets and connecting pipes as well.

Also, make sure to close and drain shut-off valves leading outdoors. If you have interior shut-off valves leading to outdoor faucets, close them and drain the water from outside lines. Any water that remains in the lines and freezes could cause major damage.

Water is a precious resource, and fixing leaks in our homes is a major step toward conserving water and saving money. Even though our water sources in Kentucky can replenish themselves through precipitation, our changing climate, growing population and ever-increasing thirst for water threaten these supplies. So, go fix those leaks!

(Graphic from

This article appeared in KY Forward on October 30, 2014.


Keep FOG – fats, oils, grease – out of drain to help protect the environment

There is a debate right now about whether fat is good or bad and how much fat should be in a healthy diet. There is even debate about which fats are healthy. I am always confused about which cooking oil to buy and whether I should stick with margarine or use butter (or even lard).

Nevertheless, there is one thing I am sure about when it comes to FOG – fats, oils and grease: FOG does not go down the drain.
Flog clog (Photo provided)I didn’t always know about FOG. When I was growing up, my grandmother taught me to cook. We cooked bacon, fried chicken and any other Southern comfort food you could imagine. When we were done cooking, we would save most of the oil to reuse for later, but we would put the oily pots and pans directly into the sink to clean with soapy hot water. What my grandmother and I did not know is that even that tiny bit of FOG is damaging to the environment, home plumbing, septic systems and sewer systems.

I now know that putting even a little FOG down the drain is bad for water quality and can ruin the plumbing. So when I have finished cooking, I collect liquid grease and oils in a sealable container. For the grease that cannot be poured into the container, I wipe pans clean with a paper towel and put it in the trash. My food scraps that do not go into the compost also go in the trash. I scrape off excess food from pots, pans and plates before rinsing them in the sink with cold water. This means that I almost never need to use my garbage disposal.

FOG does not stop at the kitchen sink. The residue left over from cooking meats, butters and margarine, lard, food scraps, sauces, salad dressings, dairy products and cooking oil will harden after it cools and can clog pipes when poured down the drain.

Plus, FOG can also clog the sewer pipes under the streets that take the wastewater from your house to the treatment plant. When that happens, the wastewater can back up and come to the surface. This can allow untreated sewage to run into the streets and into our storm drains. This is not only a human health hazard but, since storm drains flow to creeks and rivers, this can cause significant environmental damage and affect aquatic life forms.

To avoid household or environmental damage, as well as a costly bill, never put FOG down the drain. Follow these few tips and you can avoid any FOG problems:
• Do put oil and grease in covered collection containers.
• Do scrape food scraps from dishes into trash cans and garbage bags and dispose of them properly.
• Do avoid using the garbage disposal. The garbage disposal does not destroy grease; it only makes the particles smaller. If you have even a little accumulated grease in your pipes, putting food scraps down the drain can clog your pipes faster.
• Do remove oil and grease from dishes, pans, fryers, and griddles. Cool first before you skim, scrape, or wipe off excess grease.
• Do prewash your dishes in cold water before putting them in the dishwasher.
• Don’t pour oil and grease down the drain.
• Don’t put food scraps down the drain.
• Don’t rinse off oil and grease with hot water.

Whether you are cooking with bacon grease, extra virgin olive oil, butter or coconut oil, keep your FOG out of the drain.

Ashley photo

Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in psychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in urban studies and community development from Eastern University.

This article appeared in KY Forward on August 18, 2014.


Before summer’s heat sets in, plan ways to reduce your water consumption

Can you believe it? Summer is almost here. My plants are in the garden; my lawn is green; and best of all, no more snow!

Summer living is great, but it’s not always easy on the planet. Americans use more water than anyone else in the world, and that water use increases dramatically over the summer. So before summer is in full swing and it gets too hot, plan to reduce your and your family’s water consumption this year.

Here are a few ways you can have fun while conserving water:

Make saving water a game

Get the kids involved in saving water around the house. The habits children develop at an early age are more likely to stay with them throughout their lives. Rewarding children for conserving water is a great way to reinforce good habits. Give a sticker if you see your child turning off the water while brushing his/her teeth.

Letting children play in the (Photo provided)

Letting children play in the sprinkler when you water the lawn is one way to get creative while conserving water.

If you have a teenager, you know that they love having some extra spending money. Why not drop some money in a jar everytime he/she remembers to take a short shower (five minutes or less) or uses the same water glass all day? These little habits will save thousands of gallons of water over their lifetimes.

Send kids out on a hunt for leaks. Kentucky American Water has a great online guide for leak detection at home. Challenge the family to not use any water for two hours. During that time, have the kids check the water meter. If the dial moves at all, have them check all the faucets, spigots, under sinks, etc. for any signs of a leak. Give a prize to anyone who finds a leaky faucet or a drip under the sink. Fix these leaks ASAP.

When the weather isn’t conducive to outside activities, check out the water education games that are available online. has some great games for kids that teach them about many different water quality and water conservation topics.

Creatively water your lawn

Some of the largest wastes of water are from irrigation and watering our lawns and gardens, but we all know that there are times when the lawn NEEDS to be watered. When it’s time to water the lawn, here are some creative ways to multitask and reduce your water usage.

Let the kids play in the sprinkler. Allow kids to play water games in the yard. Just make sure to rotate the fun, so that one spot does not get over saturated.

Wash the dog outside. Fill up a kiddie pool or bucket outside. Give the dog a good wash. Then you can distribute the water you just used to wash the dog on the lawn.

 (Photo provided)Rain barrels collect soft rainwater, which plants love.

Wash your car on the lawn. By pulling the car into the grass before washing it, you are conserving water and helping to keep soap and grease from your vehicle out of the storm drains.

Install a rain barrel

Rain barrels collect soft rainwater, which plants love, and best of all, it’s free. The water saved in rain barrels can be used for watering flowers, gardens and lawns all through the summer, even in times of drought. However, the water should not be used for drinking or human consumption.

Installing a rain barrel benefits the environment and you. Using rainwater for watering will reduce your use of municipal water supplies, saving you money. For more information about rain barrels or to attend an upcoming Rain Barrel Workshop, check out our website.

If you want some more tips and ways to conserve water, check out the Bluegrass Greensource website or the Kentucky American Water website.

Ashley photo

Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in Psychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Development from Eastern University.

This article appeared in KY Forward on May 22, 2014.


Over 400 Volunteers Participate in First Annual Main Street Clean Sweep

Bluegrass Greensource hosted the first annual Main Street Clean Sweep on Earth Day.  On April 22nd, city employees, small business owners, and concerned citizens from seven counties throughout the Bluegrass region came together to clean up litter during their lunch breaks to keep their main streets clean. Our first annual Earth Day Main St. Clean Sweep was a huge success.  We had 413 volunteers collect 286 bags of trash and recycling from Anderson, Clark, Estill, Franklin, Garrard, Lincoln, and Mercer counties!

We would like to thank all of the volunteers that took time out of their busy schedules to make a difference in their communities! We would also like to thank the businesses and government agencies that partnered with us to make this day possible:

  • All Things Country Magazine
  • Bushnell Drycleaning
  • City of Burgin
  • City of Frankfort
  • City of Harrodsburg
  • City of Irvine
  • City of Lancaster
  • City of Lawrenceburg
  • City of Winchester
  • Clark County Emergency Management Agency
  • Davis Law
  • Corning Inc.
  • Estill County Animal Shelter
  • Estill County Fiscal Court
  • Estill Development Alliance
  • Evergreen Community Supports LLC
  • Farmers National Bank
  • Frankfort First Baptist Church
  • Franklin County Attorney’s Office
  • Franklin County Circuit Clerk’s Office
  • Franklin County Drug Court
  • Franklin County Fiscal Court
  • Franklin County Occupational Tax
  • Friends of the Franklin County Court
  • Full Circle Market
  • Garrard County Extension Service
  • Garrard County Food Pantry
  • Garrard County Schools
  • Garrard County Recycling Center
  • Halcomb’s Knob B&B and Farm
  • Hitachi
  • Howard Law Group
  • Kentucky Division of Energy Development and Independence
  • Kentucky Heritage Council
  • Lake Village Water
  • Lancaster Lube
  • Lile Law
  • Lincoln County Recycling Center
  • Mercer County Chamber of Commerce
  • Mercer County Schools
  • Napier Brothers Clothing and Shoes
  • No Kill Central KY Regional Humane Society
  • Otis Engineering LLC
  • Republic Services
  • Roy Gray Law Office
  • Sekisui
  • Strodes Creek Conservancy
  • The Mikes Travel
  • Three Elements Design
  • Winchester First
  • Winchester Municipal Utilities
  • WUKY

Thank you, and we hope to see you all again next year!

Below: Volunteers from (1) Winchester and (2) Lawrenceburg participate in Main Street Clean Sweep.

Main St. Winchester 3 Main St. Clean Sweep 3 - Lawrenceburg


When redecorating for spring, don’t run to buy new or throw out – go green

Spring is finally here, and if you’re anything like me then you like to mix some redecorating in with your spring cleaning. Recently, I have been redecorating my dining room while trying to focus my efforts on reducing my consumption.

Admittedly, the easiest decision may have been to just head to a big box store and pick-up the prettiest items on the shelf, but I wanted do my best to reduce my impact on the environment.

I decided to follow the buying decision chart below. I did my research and decided that I would paint and recover my old dining room chairs. I also decided that we really needed a larger dining table. My first choice was to look for a used table on Craigslist and at thrift/antique stores. However, I soon discovered that the size of table I wanted was not a common size.
(Chart from Infographic)

(Chart from

My next best option was to find an affordable table made from sustainable materials. Through a little research and some patience, I actually found a local artisan who builds custom furniture from sustainably harvested native Kentucky wood. Yes, I did have to wait for it to be built. However, it is a piece that I know will last, and surprisingly it cost less than many of the mass-produced pieces I have seen at various stores.

Now my dining room has a beautiful new look, and I know that I made a more eco-friendly decorating choice.

If you are looking to do some eco-friendly decorating of your own, I’ve got some tips for creating an environmentally conscious living space. You can find some more tips and even some projects on our Pinterest board here.

When you are trying to do some eco-friendly redecorating, your first step should be to reduce the number of items on your “want list.” Ask yourself, “Is this really something that I need?” or “Will I still want this item in a year?” If the answer is no, resist the urge to purchase.

If the item is something you really need, buying it new shouldn’t be your first choice. Try buying the item used, or look for items made from recycled or sustainably produced materials. Craigslist, Ebay and thrift stores often have great, gently used items for amazing prices.

Do you have some old wood furniture in your house or in storage? Rather than simply discarding it, you could give the piece new life by refinishing, repainting or repurposing it. If you do need to get rid of any item, why not contact your friends and plan an exchange party? I bet your friends have furniture or accessories they are ready to change out.

Their bookshelf might be the answer to your living room storage needs, and your lamp could be the piece his/her bedroom was missing. If it can’t be repurposed or exchanged, consider donating home items you’ve replaced to nonprofits and thrift stores.

Eco-friendly redecorating may take a little more time and energy, but the results are usually worth the time and effort. So when you are redesigning or redecorating, try taking some of these steps to move toward a green theme – and I don’t mean the color.

Ashley photo

Ashley Bryant Cheney is the green jobs coordinator for Bluegrass Greensource, connecting green businesses with a young workforce and preparing students for green careers in the Bluegrass. From Knoxville, she’s worked in volunteer and program management at various nonprofits. She has a bachelor’s in Psychology from Carson-Newman University and a master’s in Urban Studies and Community Development from Eastern University.


This article appeared in KY Forward on April 3, 2014.


First Annual Earth Day Main St. Clean Sweep!

BGGS_Main St Clean Sweep



Bluegrass Greensource needs your help this Earth Day for our first annual Main St. Clean Sweep!  What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by getting out in your community and picking up litter?  Litter thrown on the streets ends up in storm drains and trashes our environment.  Storm drains often flow directly into streams, lakes, and rivers.  When water becomes polluted, it is no longer safe for drinking or recreation, and this litter harms fish and other wildlife.  Many of the items that are thrown from car windows or dropped on the sidewalk are not biodegradable, which means that their chemical decomposition takes a very long time and that these items will create long-term damage to environment (this is the case with cigarette butts).

You may have heard all kinds of things about how litter harms the environment, but did you know that litter also hurts local economies?  Houses in littered neighborhoods sell for less money than those in unlittered neighborhoods.  Also, cleaner communities have a better chance of attracting new businesses, residents, and tourists.  Much of what is thrown away or littered (like cans and plastic bottles) could have been recycled and is thus a lost resource.  So, let’s pick up some litter and help clean up the Bluegrass this Earth Day!

We are asking employees from businesses in Downtown/Main Street areas throughout the Bluegrass region to get outside during their lunch break on April 22nd anytime between 11:30 am and 2:00pm and pick up some litter (rain or shine).  Bluegrass Greensource is planning cleanups in Frankfort, Lancaster, Harrodsburg, Winchester, Stanford, Irvine, and Danville.  We will provide trash bags, gloves, and FREE T-SHIRTS at all locations!  Stay tuned for kick-off locations and more details in the coming month!

Even if you aren’t able to get out on Earth Day and help with one of the litter cleanups, you can still make a difference by picking up litter anytime, anywhere.  With your help we can make every day Earth Day!

If you are interested in being involved in one of the Earth Day Main St. Clean Sweep events, please contact Ashley at 859-266-1572 or


Making Green Work at Franklin County Operation Preparation

On March 10th and 11th, the Bluegrass Greensource Green Jobs Program was at Kentucky State University for Franklin County Operation Preparation.  Operation Preparation is a joint effort of the Kentucky Department of Education and the Department of Workforce Development and provides a powerful opportunity for schools, students, parents and communities to collaborate and focus attention to the importance of planning for college and/or career (  This program is the perfect opportunity for students to learn about green career opportunities in their community.

Ben Lyle - Green Jobs Presentation

 Ben Lyle from the Division of Forestry answers questions about being a forester as part of the Bluegrass Greensource Green Jobs Information Session

Green Jobs Coordinator Ashley Bryant Cheney participated in the advising sessions for interested 8th graders and offered the first ever Green Jobs Information Session for all 10th grade students from Western Hills High School and Franklin County High School.  Through these programs, Bluegrass Greensource provided green jobs information to over 400 students.    Kenvirons and the Division of Forestry partnered with Bluegrass Greensource for the information session.  Aaron Morgan (Kenvirons), Chris Jones (Kenvirons), and Ben Lyle (Division of Forestry) all talked about their green jobs and used real-life examples to engage students. It was clear, through the presentations and the questions that students asked, this session opened students’ eyes to green career options.

Franklin County Operation Preparation was a huge success!  Bluegrass Greensource would like to thank Aaron Morgan and Chris Jones of Kenvirons and Ben Lyle from the Division of Forestry for talking to the 10th grade students about their green jobs.  Bluegrass Greensource would also like to thank the Franklin County schools for featuring the Green Jobs Program as one of their workshop sessions.

If you are interested in learning more about the Green Jobs Program, please contact Ashley at 859-266-1572 or

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