Whether you’re aiming to reduce your carbon footprint as you travel or interested in supporting eco-friendly businesses, there are many reasons to keep sustainability at the forefront these days. The City of Norfolk’s Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action Team is focused on several key initiatives to combat climate change and its impacts. These include advancing climate justice, facilitating green living and greening city operations. Wondering how you can join in the eco-friendly efforts during your time in Norfolk? As it turns out, it is easy being green—and quite fun too! Here are some recommended eco-friendly attractions in Norfolk that you can enjoy guilt-free and green-minded.
The Elizabeth River Trail (also known as ERT) is Norfolk’s 10.5-mile-long walk and bikeable pathway that takes you through multiple neighborhoods with different waterfront views. It’s a great way to experience many different attractions and enjoy the outdoors in Norfolk. Efforts led by the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation aim to expand, enhance and transform the ERT as a recreational, social and educational destination that improves environmental awareness, neighborhood connectivity and innovative economic development. Initiatives such as kayak launches, solar lighting, playgrounds and improved wayfinding are just a few of the developments on the horizon for ERT.
If you’re committed to traveling green, then certainly you’ll want to book green accommodations too. Hilton Norfolk The Main, conveniently located Downtown, is a LEED-certified hotel, scoring points in categories including sustainable sites, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, regional priority credits and innovation–which received a top score.
This zero waste + refill shop in Ghent features sustainable alternatives to everyday items that are healthier for you and our planet. Look for eco-friendly products made from natural ingredients that are free from harsh, synthetic chemicals and stem from makers who are environmentally aware. Household items like soap, lotion and deodorant are sold in recycled, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging—or without packaging at all. Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers and fill or refill to their heart’s desire. Products can be purchased in store or online.
In 2018, Nauticus installed the East Coast’s first Seabin, a floating trash bin with a pump that filters trash out of the Elizabeth River. The Elizabeth River is home to one of the busiest commercial ports in the world, but it’s also home to otters, oysters and other marine life that depend on clean water to survive and thrive. In its first year of operation, the Seabin cleaned 1,000 pounds of garbage out of the river. Nauticus now owns three Seabins, and the Museum’s Junior Scientists maintain and measure progress to better understand how we can move forward in reducing waste to protect our waterways. As a River Star Model Level Business and certified Virginia Green attraction, Nauticus is committed to minimizing its environmental impacts by preventing pollution in its operations and educating the public on the importance of green practices through programs, exhibits and events. Learn more about their conservation programs and conservation efforts.
It may seem obvious that a botanical garden would be eco-focused, but Norfolk Botanical Garden takes it a step further: they’re powered by 100 percent renewable energy! Through the Dominion Energy Green Power program, the Garden can match 100 percent of their monthly electricity usage with Renewable Energy Certificates. Other initiatives include 120 on-site solar panels that power a propagation greenhouse, plus environmental stewardship programs like composting areas, beehives and sustainability workshops for visitors.
O’Connor Brewing Co. partnered with Surfrider Foundation (which works to protect and preserve the world’s oceans, waves and beaches) in the creation of their beer garden. With conservation, permeability and water retention at the forefront of consideration, O’Connor designed their beer garden to conserve water, energy and wildlife; ensure permeability of soil to let water sink in; and retain rainwater to prevent pollution runoff.
Not only is the Virginia Zoo a great place to experience and learn about a variety of mammals, reptiles and amphibians from around the world; it’s also ideal for engaging in multiple conservation efforts, including a butterfly habitat and wetland and oyster restoration. The Zoo utilizes Green Living initiatives on-site including power conservation through sensor lights in guest areas, filtering run-off stormwater through three rain gardens throughout the Zoo, recycling and installing an Eco-Garden featuring environmentally-friendly garden techniques including composting. Plus, their Aldabra tortoise house features “living” walls and roof to educate visitors about opportunities to be green at home.