3R Bazaar: Light Bulb Recycling

Recycle Light Bulbs; earn scholarship funds for your village!

If you feel in the dark about light bulb disposal, here’s a bright idea: recycle used light bulbs to earn scholarship money! The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has selected Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and LED light bulbs for the annual Village Recycling Challenge held at the 3R Recycling Drive-thru on Saturday, November 13, 2021 from 9 a.m. to noon in The Woodlands High School’s parking lot. Light bulbs must be intact, not broken. Batteries and other listed items will also be accepted. This event is for residents only, no businesses. 

This year’s Recycling Village Challenge shines a light on the importance of responsible waste disposal. Recycling light bulbs saves material that can be reused, reduces landfill space, and keeps hazardous chemicals out of our environment. Although they are made of glass, metal and plastic, light bulbs cannot be recycled in your curbside cart 

How are light bulbs recycled?

Light bulbs are put through a machine, called a tumbler, which crushes and separates the primary components: glass, metal, plastic, mercury and phosphor. These materials are then stored for manufacturing into new items.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) contain a small amount of mercury gas. If CFLs are disposed of in a trash can or landfill, the glass can crack and release mercury into the environment. Chemicals from CFLs and other hazardous waste, such as batteries that end up in the landfill, can leach into the surrounding water table, endangering human health and the environment. CFLs and other household hazardous waste should always be treated with care and safely disposed of through special collections. If you are saving CFL bulbs for recycling, please store them in a safe place such as their original box to avoid damage. 

Want to save money, energy and even water? 

LED light bulbs use 80% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, saving energy, money and even water. They also pose almost no fire risk because they emit less heat than other bulbs. LED lightbulbs may cost more up front, but they’ll save you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the years because of efficiency and long life span.  

Join us for free recycling of select items and support your village by bringing Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and LED light bulbs to the 3R Recycling Drive-thru for the Village Recycling Challenge. The village that collects the most will receive a donation, from The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N., to its scholarship fund.

Can’t make it to 3R Recycling Drive-thru?  

That’s ok! The Montgomery County Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring), Home Depot, Lowes, Batteries Plus and Best Buy accept different types of light bulbs all year. For a comprehensive list of local recycling opportunities of other oddities such as electronics, batteries, paints, pharmaceuticals, and more check out the Recycle More Guide.  

For more information, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/3rbazaar

11 Pet Friendly Houseplants

Why do dogs and cats eat houseplants? Perhaps to calm an empty stomach or help process hairballs. Or maybe they’re just too fun not to attack. Any pet owner knows it’s a challenge to keep houseplants away from a pet who’s determined to chew, so it’s up to us to make sure those plants are safe.

With the exception of edibles, like cat grass, the safest option is simply to keep houseplants up high and out of your pet’s reach. Of course, our Feng Shui usually doesn’t accommodate this. Thankfully, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) makes it easy to identify which of your plants may pose a danger to cats or dogs. Consult their Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant Lists to keep your furry friends safe. It makes a great buying guide, too. Here’s a few of our favorites.

Bright to Indirect Light

  1. Banana Plant Musa oriana

Some varieties will produce edible fruit (takes 3-4 years), but others do not (Musa basjoo). Can grow to be rather large. If limited on space, look for a dwarf variety like Musa ‘Dwarf Cavendish‘. Large, smooth edged leaves that are slighly wavy.

2. Ponytail Palm Beaucarnea recurvata

Drought tolerant, slow growing and easy to care for, the ponytail palm is a great houseplant for those who have busy schedules or travel regularly. A bulb-like trunk stores water and long leaves, resembling a ponytail, reach out from the top.

  1. Prayer Plant Maranta leuconeura 

Beautifully decorated leaves that are a blend of deep green and yellow with a red vein running across each leaf. Named from the way the leaves fold in the evening, resembling hands folded in prayer. This is a reaction to the amount of light the plant is receiving. 

 4. Boston Fern Nephrolepis exaltata  

Voluminous plant with distinct arching fronds made up of small leaves. Great in a hanging basket (and keeps fronds safe from a playful cat or dog). Pale to medium green leaves.  

  1. African Violets Streptocarpus S. saintpaulia 

Velvety petals with flower colors of violet, purple, pale blue and white. Can bloom year-round. Known for being a bit finicky, but actually not too difficult once you know some basic rules as mentioned in this video.  

  1. Spider Plant Chlorophytum comosum  

Among the most popular houseplants to grow. Hardy plants that can survive less than ideal conditions. Slender, arching leaves can average 1.5’ in length. Mature plants with long stems produce small, star shaped flowers. Consider planting in hanging pots if you have playful kitties around.  

Low Light  

  1. Friendship Plant Pilea involucrata  

Easily propagated from stem cuttings making it easy to share with friends, thus it’s common name. Deeply crinkled, velvety leaves with deep bronze veins. Most varieties do well as trailing plants but can be pinched back to create a more bushy plant.  

  1. Parlor Palm Chamaedorea elegans 

Also known as Bamboo Palm, with proper care, and plenty of time, this plant can reach up to 6’ in height. An ideal indoor plant that grows well in cramped spaces and low light. It’s possible to find single-stalk varieties, but most often you will find them growing in small clumps that resemble a palm-like shrub. 

  1. Gloxinia Sinningia speciosa 

Related to the African violet, gloxinia produces show stopping blooms in a variety of colors. Many gloxinias found in stores today are seed-grown hybrids, which put a lot of energy into creating beautiful blooms, instead of their root systems. This results in the plant dying back after their blooming season and is not likely to grow back. Many consider this pet-friendly houseplant to be an annual. Extend the blooming season by pinching off dead flowers.  

  1. Mosaic Plant Fittonia albivenis  

Commonly used in terrariums due to its need for constant humidity, this evergreen perennial thrives in low light. This low growing plant can spread up to 18”, completely covering a small space with it’s silver-veined leaves.  

  1. Cast Iron Plant Aspidistra elatior 

Just like cast iron, this plant is tough to destroy and is tolerant to being neglected. A great option for homeowners without a green thumb. Its bright green leaves can grow up to 2’ tall and 3’ wide. Cast iron plants don’t like to have their roots disturbed so select a pot that is a few inches wider than the roots to give this slow growing plant plenty of extra space.  

General Care 

Before you bring your new plant home, make sure you have the right conditions and space for your plant to thrive. Selecting a healthy plant from a reputable nursery will also make a big difference in the life of your plant. Not sure what a healthy plant looks like? Look for new growth (a sign that it will continue to grow when you get it home) and avoid plants that are damaged.  

A pot with good drainage will be more forgiving as you learn the watering needs of your new plant. Make sure to have a saucer to catch any runoff and avoid damage to your table or windowsills. A pot that is an inch or two larger than the plant will allow room for growth. Fertilizer is a must as the plant will exhaust the nutrients in the soil over time. And of course, be mindful of using chemicals to treat any pests or disease to keep your plants safe for kids and pets.   

Not for the Garden 

While these plants are non-toxic to pets, they can be devasting to our native landscape. We strongly advise against adding these plants to your yard or garden where they can become invasive, pushing out native plants and animals. Properly dispose of non-native vegetation by mixing in with your curbside yard trimmings  which will be sent to a local composting facility.  


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Native Plant Spotlight: Texas Creeping Oxeye

Wedelia texana

After many spring flowers and gardeners have languished from the heat, this easy-care shrub continues to bloom an airy bouquet of sweet daisy-like flowers through summer and into fall. A little water-sipper of a plant, Texas creeping oxeye Wedelia texana proves that even in the middle of summer, those with a sunny disposition can still thrive.   

Some like it hot 

True to its central and west Texas roots, the plant can handle reflected heat from a walkway, driveway or brick wall. Consider siting it at the edge of a patio or at that tricky spot just beyond the reach of the sprinkler. Also called zexmenia, this perennial shrub typically grows 18 to 24 inches and is semi-evergreen, going dormant during harsh winters. Unparticular about soil, zexmenia only requires excellent drainage to thrive. Rainfall typically provides all the water the plant needs once it is established.   

Feed the pollinators 

Ample nectar attracts butterflies and honeybees. A larval host like many members of the aster family, zexmenia is where the bordered patch butterfly lays her eggs. The buffet doesn’t stop there as songbirds also dine on the seeds.  

Growing success 

This low, long-blooming, shrub is well-mannered and adaptable. In partial shade it tends to sprawl into a pleasant groundcover. To maintain a compact rounded habit, plant zexmenia in full sun. Cut back in early spring and enjoy flowers by April or May. For denser growth or to rejuvenate plant, cut back by half in mid-summer. 

Remember to register your pollinator garden 

A registered garden provides the basic needs of pollinators, including food, shelter and water in a chemical-free zone. Don’t worry if you think your garden might not qualify. The garden registration form helps you put the necessary components in place, whether you’re starting from scratch or making a few additions to an established garden. You’ll find easy-to-follow guidelines, such as offering nectar-producing (flowering) plants for each season, leaving some patches of bare ground for burrowing insects, supplying a water source (bird baths work great) and providing host plants so insects can lay eggs. Native plant lists are included to help with any shopping. 

Registrations received from June 1, 2021 through December 1, 2021 count towards the 2021 Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge. Each registration earns a point for your village association. Program sponsors, The Woodlands GREEN and Project PolliNation, will donate funds to the three village associations with the most points for their scholarship program. 


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Think Like A Plant: How To Water Effectively With Deep Watering

Here’s a deep thought for you: how a plant is watered is just as important as how much it’s watered. Start watering deeply for more robust and rugged root systems and thriving, happy plants. In this article, we’ll take a closer look into deep watering: its benefits, how to do it, and some other consideration to help make your landscape the best on the block.

What Does It Mean To Water Deeply?

There’s no cut-and-dry definition of a deep watering. Most gardeners generally refer to it as when water has soaked at least eight inches into the soil. This gives plants the structure required to survive lack of water, whether from a drought, a busy gardener, or other environmental stresses.

5 Perks Of Deep Watering

  1. Water gets to where it’s needed most – The majority of a plant’s root system is well below the surface. Deep watering ensures water gets down to the roots instead of lingering at the surface.
  2. Develop strong root systems – Plants that receive frequent watering don’t bother developing strong root systems. Why should they? We’re training their roots to stay near the surface where the water is, leaving them susceptible to stress, especially when we miss a few days of watering. Once water-stressed, it may take weeks for a plant to recover, or it may never fully recover!
  3. Protection during drought – The top of the soil dries out quickly. Delivering the water deeply shields it from evaporation.
  4. Use less water – Deep watering is efficient watering. For most plants and vegetables, one inch delivered once a week is adequate. If your plants act like they need more, you might not be watering deep or often enough.
  5. Save money and time – This one’s a no-brainer.

Watering Deeply How-To

The keys to successful deep watering are simple: infrequently and slowly. But let’s dig a little deeper…

  1. First, check your soil’s moisture. Moisture meters help but your finger will do just fine. Be sure to get eight inches down and near the roots. Does the soil feel dry?
  2. Next, water your plants with a steady and light stream. Fast running water slides off the top of the soil, taking your time and money with it. Clay soil is especially slow at absorbing water so be patient.
  3. Wait 30 minutes for the water to percolate down.
  4. Recheck the moisture level. If the water hasn’t soaked down eight inches, water a little longer.
  5. Wait 30 minutes and recheck the soil.
  6. Once you’ve moistened at least eight inches down, you’re set. Be sure to note the total time it took along with the number of watering cycles and the water flow rate.

Remember To…

Mulch It

Mulch offers a second layer of protection for your plants. It slows evaporation, preserving soil moisture which is especially important for our hot Texas summers. Mulch also deters the spread of garden pests. Check here for tips on effective mulching in our area.

Drip It

Drip irrigation is specifically designed for deep watering. The drip emitter sits at the base of the plant delivering water right to the roots, minimizing evaporation and eliminating runoff. Installing a drip system is easier and cheaper than you might think and it allows you to vary the amount of water each plant receives, ensuring each one gets just the right amount. If you’re new to drip, check out this Environmental Services blog for an introduction.

Plant Native

Native plants and wildflowers are accustomed to drought situations, so they’re naturally inclined to grow longer roots and be more resilient. To really save water and money, choose native plants whenever you can and you’ll have significantly fewer struggles in the garden and landscape.

Go Deep

Deep watering is a game changer. In our hot, demanding climate, proper watering technique is a make-or-break, especially during prolonged dry periods. Save water and save your plants this summer.


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

A Better Way to Keep Mosquitoes at Bay

Getting rid of mosquitoes doesn’t have to involve deadly chemicals or the latest expensive gimmick. Effective control is a combination of vigilance, personal repellent and using the right products to target specific areas.

Garlic barrier, commonly sold as Mosquito Barrier, has been used for years in agriculture to repel insects from crops and even keep birds from eating tree fruits. It works by overwhelming the mosquito’s sensory system which is 10,000 times more finely tuned than ours. Once the product is dry, you can’t smell it, but they sure can – and they can’t stand it! As it is not a contact pesticide like other backyard sprays, it is safe for beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.

Easy to apply

Sold as a liquid concentrate, garlic barrier is 95-99% garlic with a natural sulfer compound that repels mosquitoes and other pests. There are three easy steps to mix and apply.

  • Dilute the concentrate with water according to the label in a clean pump sprayer that has not held herbicides or “weed and feed.”
  • Pressurize the container by pumping and apply to shrubs, trees, fences and other structures around the perimeter of your yard. Spray as high as you can reach and avoid coating flowers.
  • Reapply after it rains or after 30 days, whichever comes first.

This can be a great tool to use ahead of a pool party, family barbeque, or to simply enjoy your yard free from pesky bloodsuckers.

As this is a barrier at the edge of your yard, make sure you don’t have any sneaky water sources within the perimeter that are breeding mosquitoes. Keep in mind, many common culprits are out of of sight. Do you have any of the following?

  • French drains
  • Gutters with leaf debris
  • A water meter box that gets flooded by rain or irrigation
  • Plant saucers
  • Toys, tarps or bags of potting soil that collect water

Address these first so you aren’t trapping mosquitoes within your property.

For other easy ways to mosquito-proof your patio – check out this two-part series.

For more information on keeping mosquitoes out of your backyard, check out thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/mosquitoinfo. To report a mosquito problem, contact the Environmental Services Department at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or 281-210-3800.