Free Online Fall Organic Vegetable Gardening Class

Now is the time to prep for fall planting so you can enjoy picking squash, broccoli, tomatoes and more from your own vegetable garden. If you’re new to gardening or looking for some tips to get the best harvest this year, don’t miss out on this upcoming opportunity to have your best garden this fall. 

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department is excited to announce their first online educational program. The Fall Organic Vegetable Gardening Class will bring top notch information right to your own home on Saturday, July 25, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon.   

Dr. Bob Randall, noted Houston vegetable gardening expert and published gardening author, will share his lifetime of vegetable gardening expertise in this Zoom webinar. Learn about garden site selection and preparation; plant selection based upon Montgomery County’s plant hardiness zone 9a; and appropriate organic gardening techniques. Dr. Randall’s many years of expertise in gardening education, community gardening and tending his personal vegetable garden are sure to provide an exciting and informative class. 

Dr. Bob Randall shares his tips on successfully growing tomatoes in Houston. 

To register for this free class and receive your webinar link, sign up here

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov


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The Plastic Free EcoChallenge Is On!

Stop plastic pollution at its source.

More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year. Single-use plastics, such as take-out waste, accounts for 50% of this pollution. We all have the power to stop plastic pollution at its source by making simple lifestyle changes to reduce our disposable plastic habit.

Join The Woodlands Township’s Plastic-Free EcoChallenge Team for the month of July to learn ways to reduce plastic and compete with other organizations across the globe. 

Single-use plastics are used for moments, but exist on the planet for hundreds of years.

The Plastic-Free EcoChallenge is hosted by the network of North American Zoos & Aquariums and inspired by the Australian-founded Plastic Free July initiative to end plastic pollution in our oceans. This 31-day, global challenge will empower you with ideas to reduce and refuse single-use plastics. We invite you to take action and start plastic-free habits today.  

Earn points for our community by completing the suggested daily or one-time actions. During the EcoChallenge, participants are encouraged to share their progress with fellow Ecochallengers on the website and on social media. The combination of collective inspiration, camaraderie and friendly competition makes reducing plastic use a lot easier and a lot more fun. Let’s share our successes and do good together. 

Are you ready to stop plastic pollution at its source? Check out this video about how to join the Plastic-Free EcoChallenge or follow the instructions below.

How to sign up

  1. Visit this referral link to join The Woodlands Township’s team. 
  2. Create an account 
  3. Invite your friends to earn bonus points. 
  4. Select the actions you will take in July and start earning points for our community! 

If you aren’t interested in joining the competition, you can still make a difference. Here are the top ways to reduce plastic in your daily life: 

  • Bring your own bag.  On average in the United States, 100 billion plastic bags are used by consumers annually. The average time each bag is used is less than 15 minutes. Remember to wash reusable bags regularly. 
  • Bring your own water bottle or cup. The amount of water used to produce a plastic bottle is 6 to 7 times the amount of water in the bottle. 
  • Use your own mug. Store a mug at your office or bring coffee in a travel mug from home. 
  • Choose cardboard and paper packaging over plastic containers and bags. Less than 14 percent of plastic packaging– the fastest-growing type of packaging–gets recycled. 
  • Kick the disposable straw habit, especially plastic ones. If you must use a straw, try a reusable one made of stainless steel, silicone or bamboo. 
  • When you can’t reduce, remember to recycle plastic bottles and containers! Check out these tips for recycling take-out waste 

Help us turn the tide on plastic pollution by joining the 2020 Plastic-Free EcoChallenge with The Woodlands Township. For questions, contact the Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800 or enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Want to save pollinators? There’s an app for that.

Attention outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and wildlife champions! Don’t miss the chance to participate in a community-wide, virtual event that brings you closer to the outdoors right in your own backyard. 

The Township is hosting a week-long “bioblitz” – a community effort to identify as many species as possible during National Pollinator Week. This effort provides an informal, fun opportunity for the public to learn together and share their enthusiasm for nature. And the information collected contributes to a genuine scientific survey. Anyone can participate regardless of age or knowledge level.  

This community-wide, virtual event coincides with National Pollinator Week, June 22-28, 2020. Created by Pollinator.org, this world-wide celebration is also a call to action to save the bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and other pollinators who need our help.  

The Woodlands Township is celebrating National Pollinator Week by hosting a week-long BioBlitz. Participants are encouraged to seek out pollinators, in particular,when making observations. iNaturalist will automatically identify and track your observations and share the data with scientific organizations. Now you are participating in a world-wide citizen-science effort to help populations in need, like pollinators. 

How to participate 

  • Download the iNaturalist app onto your phone, tablet or computer.  
  • Before the Bioblitz officially begins, familiarize yourself with the app. 
  • Watch a short, simple tutorial at iNaturalist.org.  
  • Head outside with your phone and photograph the insects, critters and plants you encounter. 
  • Upload the photos to iNaturalist via the app or website. iNaturalist will help identify your picture. Just click ‘What did you see?’ on your phone, or the ‘Species name’ section under the photo you shared.  

To join The Woodlands Bioblitz, log into your iNaturalist account 

Cell Phones 

  • Select ‘Projects’ in the top left corner. 
  • Use the ‘Search’ magnifying glass in the top right corner. Type ‘The Woodlands Township BioBlitz June 2020’. 
  • Select ‘Join’. 

Computers 

  • Select ‘Community’ at the top of the page.  
  • Use the drop-down menu and select ‘Projects’. 
  • Use the search bar, located below the featured project. Type in ‘The Woodlands Township BioBlitz June 2020’. 
  • Click on the event to be directed to the project page. 
  • Select ‘Join’ in the upper right corner. 

Observations made during National Pollinator Week will be tallied at the end of the week. Results will be shared with our community.  You can make as many or as few observations as you like and from any area you wish – backyard, park or forest. However much you participate, you will find that you learn something new, contribute to important scientific efforts including pollinator conservation, and have fun being outdoors. Sign up today! 

For more information on how you can celebrate National Pollinator Week, visit www.pollinator.org or email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov 

Start saving batteries for the Village Recycling Challenge!

Power to the world’s most convenient, portable energy source: the battery. They come in all shapes and sizes and we couldn’t live without them. Although their convenience mobilizes our lives, their disposal comes at a cost to the environment.  

Batteries make up almost 20% of all household hazardous materials sent to landfills. This presents a problem as the elements used to create power inside a battery- mercury, lead, cadmium, or nickel – leach out when the battery breaks down in the landfill, potentially contaminating the surrounding water table. Batteries incorrectly placed in trash or recycling carts can also cause fires in trucks and machinery when compacted.  

To prevent damage to the environment and potential fire hazards, Texas State law prohibits the landfilling of lead-acid batteries and requires residents to dispose of them with an authorized recycling facility. State law also requires businesses that sell lead acid batteries to accept them for recycling. Dry-cell batteries, or single-use batteries can legally be disposed of in the trash, however it is better to recycle them at a collection site.

Batteries – like many other products – are recyclable, however, they are not accepted at the same sorting facility as residential recycling. To empower residents to recycle beyond our curbside carts, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has selected alkaline AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V Batteries for the annual Village Recycling Challenge. This event will be held at the 3R Bazaar :Recycling Drive-thru on Saturday, November 14, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Parks, Recreation and Environmental Services Facility (8203 Millennium Forest Drive).

If you don’t already have a stash of used batteries start saving them now! The village that collects the most will receive a donation to its scholarship fund from The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. Encourage neighbors, friends and family to save their batteries too.  

Can’t wait for 3R Bazaar: Recycling Drive-thru? That’s ok! The Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring) and Batteries Plus accept alkaline and rechargeable batteries throughout the year. For a comprehensive list of where to take other recycling oddities such as Styrofoam™, electronics, lightbulbs, paints, pharmaceuticals, and more, check out the Recycle More Guide.  

Reduce by buying rechargeable! Rechargeable batteries cost more up front, but save money in the long run, substituting hundreds of single-use batteries. Rechargeables can also be recycled when they’ve outlived their usefulness, preventing unnecessary landfill usage and toxicity to the environment.  

Questions or comments? Contact enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Explore the world without leaving your backyard

Tired of being inside all day? Looking for a way to keep the kids entertained without the TV? It’s time to take a break and get outside. Immersing in nature has many health benefits including reducing stress, anxiety, and blood pressure. And a breath of fresh air always feels good!

So step outside and look around. What do you see? Bees buzzing your lantana, and an anole sunbathing on the brick siding? What about that flowering vine you don’t recognize or the frog you found in the garden? Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of iNaturalist.

What is it?

iNaturalist, a FREE app that can be downloaded on your phone (iPhone and Android), tablet or computer, allows users to identify what they’re seeing and share their observations with others. iNaturalist is also a citizen science tool, with the collected data supporting research projects and conservation initiatives. Citizen science is when curious or concerned people collaborate by contributing the data they have collected to increase scientific knowledge. Those contributions have totaled nearly 33 million observations, and identified 250,000 species thanks to the 1.1 million people collecting data.

If you have kids at home under the age of 13, note that iNaturalist does not allow for accounts to be created for those younger ages. Check out Seek, a companion to iNaturalist that works in a similar way, but does not require an account. Drawing on images and information from iNaturalist, Seek encourages taking and sharing pictures to earn badges as a way to track your observations.

I downloaded it, now what?

Keep track and record your observations and encounters. You can upload photos, sound, tracks, nests and more. Not sure what you are looking at? Post that photo and a detailed description and the iNaturalist community will help you identify what you’ve found. iNaturalist has many video tutorials here, to help learn the functions of the app.

What else can I do in iNaturalist?

Build your knowledge and discover something new. You can look at observations made by others in your area, gaining a better understanding of the web of life that surrounds us. Challenge yourself, family and friends to see who can post the most pictures or who can identify the most observations. Once you’re comfortable identifying multiple species, have a friendly competition to find the most interesting animal or plant, or see who can identify the most birds by their call only.

However you decide to use iNaturalist, you’ll probably learn something new, develop your wildlife identification skills, and certainly spend more time outdoors. And you’ll likely find yourself inspired to make a difference. If you didn’t observe any bluebirds nearby consider building a bluebird house. If its March or April and you haven’t recorded many monarchs, plant native milkweed. By learning about the wildlife around your home, you can take educated actions to encourage more visits by providing the food and shelter that they need.

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov