Pizza nights are a common family tradition – over 93% of Americans enjoy the cheesy pie at least once a month. And most of us think recycling the box when we’re done is the right thing to do. We are right, aren’t we? Well, sort of.
If you are an avid recycler, and we know you are, trashing any piece of cardboard goes against your nature. But, placing cardboard and paper soaked in oil,sauce and cheese in the trash is the right thing to do! Food and grease are the most frequent and costliest contaminants in the paper recycling process.
If the top half of the box is clean and salvageable, cut or tear off the clean part for recycling and trash the greasy part. If the extra cheese on your pizza sticks to the top and bottom the top of the box, trash it. It’s better this way!
Please note some cities recycle pizza boxes because their recycling facility is equipped to do so and there is an end market for soiled cardboard. Greasy cardboard may work in some areas, but not in ours. Here, they only contaminate the good material. Find out more about local recycling contaminants here.
Help keep The Woodlands recycling program successful by sharing the 4-1-1- on pizza boxes with friends and family at your next pizza party!
Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:
The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department kicks off the New Year with a packed calendar of programs and events. We are ready to plant trees, create water-saving lawns, get our hands dirty in the garden and more. From virtual programing to socially-distanced events, there is something for everyone.
45th Arbor Day Tree Giveaway Drive-Through
Saturday, January 23, 20201 9 a.m. to noon Sawdust Park and Ride 701 Westridge Road, The Woodlands, TX 77380
One of the longest running community events celebrates 45 years. Cruise through the line in your car and select from twelve varieties of native tree seedlings. Help reforest our community by planting these seedlings in your yard and nearby green spaces. Don’t miss this free event.
Walk in the Woods: The Weird and Wonderful World of Mushrooms
Thursday, February 11, 2021 6 to 7 p.m. Free online class
Take a virtual Walk in the Woods with Teri MacArthur, Texas Master Naturalist and discover The Woodlands’ rich and diverse array of mushrooms. Then dive into the critical role they play in healthy ecosystems and yes, even healthy lawns and landscapes. Registration required.
Saturday, February 13, 2021 9 a.m. to noon The Woodlands High School Parking Lot
Take part in the community’s reforestation program by planting native trees around your home or in a nearby green space. Reserve your free, 3-gallon trees online and then pick up at the community drive-through event. Registration opens January 11 (supplies are limited). For more information or to register follow the link below.
Saturday, February 20, 2021 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Free online class
Volunteers are needed to join the Invasive Species Volunteer Task Force. This training is a great place to start: learn how to identify and remove non-native plants common to our area. Upon completion, you’ll be ready to volunteer alongside your neighbors, helping to keep The Woodlands environment healthy. The training is free but registration is required.
Saturday, February 20, 2021 9 a.m. to noon Free online class
It’s that time of year! Start planning your spring vegetable garden now. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced gardener, a great first step is to join Dr. Joe Masabni, Texas A&M Extension vegetable specialist in this free online (Zoom) class. Participants will take away new strategies for managing soil, selecting the right plants, companion planting, managing pests organically and more. Registration is required.
Some are scary or downright disgusting when you first encounter them. Is that dog vomit? No, it might be an aptly named slime mold, Fuligo septica. Technically not a fungus, this protist appears suddenly, much like a lawn mushroom, and disappears almost as fast. If you knew the gargantuan effort it takes to assemble this many single-celled organism you might just leave them be to finish out their lifecycle.
While fungi come in a wondrous assortment of colors and forms, the vast majority are not only beneficial but necessary. They’re also beautiful! Consider the delicate banded Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), the lacey petticoat of bridal veil stinkhorn, or the artists’ favorite, Amanita muscaria.
Mushrooms in your lawn is not a sign of something wrong! They’re simply the visible part of a much larger network of underground mycelium, breaking down dead and decaying organic matter. Look around – is there a stump nearby? 99% of fungus won’t harm a living tree; they’re there to help with decomposing dead or dying wood, along with leaves, wood chips, branches, and fallen fruit. Mushrooms are a good sign! They’re proof the soil is alive, diverse, and rich in nutrients – the foundation of a healthy lawn and landscape.
What to Do
Resist the urge to treat it and grab your phone instead. Easy-to-use apps such as iNaturalist or Google Lens will help you identify which mushroom is flourishing in your flower bed. iNaturalist will even help you filter by location to see what others are seeing nearby.
Fungicides are not recommended. The mushrooms typically aren’t causing damage and the chemicals are largely ineffective since the bulk of the mushroom exists belowground – think multiple square feet. It’s that extensive network of hyphae throughout the soil that comprises the true fungus from which the fruiting bodies – mushroom caps – arise. They’re a natural part of spring and fall when moisture abounds and temperatures cool. As weather conditions become unfavorable mushrooms retreat on their own, often as quickly as they appeared. You can discourage mushrooms by watering less frequently and pruning to reduce shade.
If you really want them gone – perhaps you have a toddler or dog that puts everything in their mouth, here’s how:
Cut or pull or mow the fruiting bodies to limit the number of spores and therefore future mushrooms. The rest of the fungal mycelia will persist underground until conditions return for another round of fruiting – likely not for a while.
When trees are removed, the roots persist and begin to decompose with the help of insects, bacteria and fungi. The only way to permanently stop the continual upcropping of mushrooms is to dig out the soil containing the decaying matter, 12 to 18 inches deep and 2 feet outside the mushroom cluster. If that seems like a lot of work, leave the mushroom power houses there. When they’ve done their job of devouring all that underground material, it – and the mushrooms above – will disappear for good.
Take care to wash hands thoroughly after handling mushrooms, as even some edible types can cause irritation.
Mushrooms are a good sign. Delight in their ephemeral presence next time they make an appearance in your yard. Most are no “truffle” at all.
Plants can’t run, but they surely can spread! If you haven’t already heard, The Invasives Task Force is hot on their trail here in The Woodlands.
In 2019, more than 40 volunteers attended trainings to learn about the problems with invasive species, particularly those impacting our Township pathways and green spaces. That group of hard workers has already put in over a thousand hours this year removing air potato vines, elephant ears, nandina, Japanese honeysuckle, and many more invasive species.
Perhaps you’ve seen the volunteers or noticed their sign when working. Have you wondered if their efforts really matter? The answer is a resounding YES! Removing these invasives, which steal nutrients from native plants and trees, supports the health of the forest and the critters that depend on it. Our community founders were passionate about preserving trees and fought to save the vegetation native to The Woodlands. Now it’s up to us to continue the fight!
If interested in this ongoing project, join the next training class on February 20, 2021. It’s free but registration is required. Find more information and a registration link HERE.
Are you excited to get involved right now? Great! We can pair you with trained volunteers who can help you learn on the job. Contact Teri MacArthur at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how. Note: We still recommend you attend the February 20 training to further your knowledge and effectiveness.
As the year draws to an end, we reflect on many things, from the pandemic, to the election, to working from home. 2020 will be a year we won’t easily forget. It will also be remembered as a year when people reconnected with nature, spending more time outdoors. Or a year when we found more creative ways to volunteer and give back: sewing masks, virtual fundraisers for great causes, or even sharing a roll of toilet paper with the neighbors. 2020 hasn’t been the easiest year, but there was a lot of hope and positive messages being shared. Remember all those painted rocks on the pathways?
We want to share some of this year’s highlights from our department. Below are the top 5 most read articles published on The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department Blog in 2020. Maybe you missed this content the first time around or it’s been months and you would like a refresher. Either way, these top-rated reads are worth a review.
1. Heat Loving Perennials
Many people took advantage of being home this year to work on their gardens. Maybe you started a vegetable garden, a pollinator garden or just enjoyed getting your hands dirty and being outside. But for anyone who has experienced a Houston summer, you know that the heat can be brutal, especially for your more delicate plants. Instead of watching your plants wilt or running up the water bill, select native plants that thrive in harsh conditions.
2. Venomous Snakes
Texas is home to over 105 different species of snakes. That may send shivers down your spine, but it doesn’t have to: snakes are one of nature’s most misunderstood creatures, posing little danger and playing a vital ecological role including control of pests. Only 3 venomous species reside in our area. If you’re concerned about interactions, take a moment to review our May Creature Feature.
3. A Guide to Community Service While Social Distancing
Many community events were reformatted in 2020, including The Township’s annual Earth Day GreenUp. With the traditional event no longer an option, many residents reached out asking how to participate in volunteer efforts throughout the community while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Luckily, any day is a good day to pick up litter. If your family wants to help keep our community clean while enjoying the outdoors, this guide is worth a read.
4. Recycling Dilemma #1005: Take-Out Containers
Restaurants were hit hard in 2020 and many of our favorite places were quick to adjust. From curbside pick up to new delivery options, take-out has become one of the safest ways to satisfy our cravings. But, many are left wondering what to do with all the packaging. We’re here to help, with a simple-to-follow guide for all you take-out connoisseurs.
5. Recycling Dilemma #1006 – Online Shopping
Staying home means more shopping online. Avoiding crowds while getting a great deal is just a click away. In 2020 more of us than ever turned to online retailers for everything from paper towels to TVs, and with it came an abundance of packaging in all shapes and sizes: cardboard, packing peanuts, air pillows, Styrofoam and more. We help you solve this recycling dilemma in this quick read.
That’s it! Our top 5 most viewed articles for 2020. Check back weekly for new articles and hot topics in 2021.
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