Clean, Green Fun for Kids!

Summer is just around the corner, although it may feel like it’s already started. Summer break is a great time to inspire your kids to appreciate our natural environment. Environmental activities help kids understand why the environment is important and provides them with the building blocks they need to live eco-friendly and sustainable lives. Check out these five simple eco-friendly activities for kids.

1-Recycle veggie scraps into compost

Did you know about 30% of our household trash is food waste? It’s easy to divert this “resource” away from the landfill through backyard composting. Composting is a fun and rewarding way for kids to watch natural processes in action and they’ll think twice about wasting their uneaten vegetables. Follow this easy guide and try out composting at home this summer.

2Plant a butterfly garden

Kid or adult, who doesn’t enjoy having butterflies around! Your garden will also attract hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators who need our help. It’s a great way for children to learn about the cycle of life and explore the relationship between plants and animals. Here’s an easy guide to get started. For examples of great plants for The Woodlands, check out this list.

3-Turn trash into treasure by making recycled paper

Here’s a fun way to show kids how paper that’s recycled curbside turns into something new. All you need are a few supplies found at home to make a brand new sheet of paper from old newspaper. Follow the instructions here.

4-Litter cleanup day

Enjoy a walk outdoors and help keep our community beautiful at the same time by picking up litter. The Township has litter grabbers and bags available for loan any time of the year. Check out The Woodlands Litter Cleanup Guide here.

5-Eco-movie night with Jack Golden

Grab the popcorn and settle in for movie night with a special online viewing of Garbage is My Bag: The Movie starring Jack Golden!

What do you do when a trash bag is so full you can’t fit it into the garbage can — or a town landfill is overflowing and polluting water supplies? ……..Call a “trashologist”!

In “Garbage is My Bag“ – an award winning performance program for school kids – Jack Golden is the comedic “expert”, Dr. T, who delves into a mountain of trash — and an even bigger bag of vaudeville and circus tricks — in search of answers to these questions. With a “Ph.D. in Garbology”, a zany and irresistible personality, and a marvelous trash-to-treasure-o-matic recycling machine, he juggles and jokes his way through a world of waste. Dr. T will teach you that rubbish is a resource that is just too good to throw away. Find your ticket to the movie here or watch the video below.


For more fun activities, check out The Woodlands Township’s Summer Action Guide here for programs by Environmental Services or Parks and Recreation.

Feed Your Plants with Kitchen Scraps and Yard Trimmings

Would you like to waste less, eat healthier food, and grow thriving plants in your home and landscape?  With just a few small steps and habit changes, you can do this!  Take advantage of these ideas for thinking outside the box. 

According to a new report, “Food Waste in America”, by Recycle Track Systems 

  • Food takes up more space in US landfills than any other material. 
  • On average, each American can save one pound of food per day with a few simple steps. 
  • By simply putting our food to good use (consuming or composting) we will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 11%. In fact, it’s one of the easiest things we can do to fight climate change.  
  • Food-saving planning, shopping and storage strategies prevent most produce waste and save households an average of $1,600 each year. That’s enough to pay for more than an entire month’s worth of groceries for a family of four. 

What can you do to reduce food waste in your own home?  The organization “Stop Food Waste” suggests putting this cycle into action: 

Plan 

  • Before shopping, take inventory of your home food supply 
  • Create a weekly menu plan using the food in your refrigerator and pantry. 
  • Take advantage of the “Save the Food” Guestimator and Meal Prep Mate
  • Base your shopping list based on needed items. 

Store 

Eat 

  • Start 2022 with a “New Year’s Fridge Clean-Out”. Make a resolution to eat down your food before the next big shopping trip.  
  • Take advantage of “Save the Food’s” recipes for creative and tasty ways to make use of those odds and ends in your refrigerator or pantry. 
  • Check out these handy resources from “Stop Food Waste” like the “10-Minute Fridge Reality Check” and the “Food Shift Kitchen Guide” 

Compost 

  • Save vegetable and fruit trimmings, cores, peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags and other compostable items. 
  • Start a compost bin in your backyard. 
  • Make backyard composting part of your food preparation routine. 
  • Place your grass clippings and leaves in your compost bin rather than curbside. Sure, yard trimmings collected curbside in The Woodlands are composted commercially, but why not save the good stuff for yourself? You’ll also reduce hauling and the green house gases that come with it.  

Create Compost in Your Own Backyard 

Let’s talk more about compost. Because, while we can all do better at reducing waste, there’s still going to be some great resources coming out of your kitchen. I’m looking at you carrot ends and egg shells. Don’t look a resource in the mouth, compost it! It’s easier than you think, and your plants will LOVE it. Backyard composting is the process of combining dry leaves, brown pine needles, green plant trimmings, and kitchen scraps to create a rich, slow-release fertilizer for your plants. 

Adding compost to soil is one of the best ways to improve soil quality and texture.  Here’s why. Compost contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – primary nutrients  gardens and landscape plants need. It also includes traces of other essential elements like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. These nutrients are released slowly, as opposed to fast-release synthetic fertilizers, and far healthier for your plants. Compost improves drainage and helps the soil retain moisture – less irrigating for you. In short, you’ll have healthier plants with less work, water, and money. 

Creating compost requires a few weeks to a year depending on how often you turn (or mix up) your pile. The more often you turn it, the faster the rate of decomposition. This is because the microbes that are the workhorses of decomposition need air to live. The more often the pile is turned, the more air is delivered to the microbes and the harder they work. I usually turn my pile about every two weeks. But, again, it’s up to you how often you choose to do it. I have some friends who are proud lazy composters and never turn their pile. They still create compost; it just takes longer.  

How can you tell when your compost is finished?  The material at the bottom of your compost bin turns a rich, dark brown color and smells and looks like fresh earth. 

Now comes the most gratifying part – using your compost!   

  • Sprinkle ½”-1” over your backyard vegetable garden and around your planting beds.   
  • Add 1/4” to the surface of indoor and outdoor potted plants.  
  • Make your own potting soil with one of these recipes from University of Florida soil experts.  
  • Or even brew a potent “compost tea” for container plants by steeping homemade finished compost in a five-gallon bucket of water for 1-3 days.  Strain the liquid and apply it to your plants. While research is ongoing, it is thought that compost tea not only provides nutrients but a host of microorganisms that boost plant health.   

Resolve now to reduce food waste, give our climate a hand, and help your landscape thrive in 2022. Learn more about backyard composting with our free, hands-on, backyard composting class on Saturday, January 8 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at The Woodlands Township Parks, Recreation and Environmental Services campus, 8203 Millennium Forest.  Experts from Montgomery County Master Gardeners Association will show you all you need to know. High quality C.E. Shepherd collapsible compost bins will be for sale for only $50 each.  Drop in – no registration required. See you there! 

Recycle Your Halloween Pumpkin

Wait!  Before tossing out your Jack-O-Lantern to carve room for Christmas, consider giving it a second life. Pumpkins, one of the oldest known crops in the western hemisphere, have been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, the US alone produces nearly 2 billion pounds of pumpkins a year. Unfortunately, most end up in a landfill after the holidays. Now that’s scary! Especially when there are multiple ways to make wonderful use of our beloved Cucurbita. 

Here are a few of our favorites…

Eat It 

Pumpkins are a fruit and, like all fruit, packed with nutrients. If your uncarved pumpkin is still firm and ripe, consider eating it. One half cup of pumpkin provides all the vitamin A required in a day and one cup has more potassium than a banana. It’s also a fantastic source of fiber.   

Puree it 

Skip the can and puree your own pumpkin. Then try one of these amazing recipes from the Food Network. 

Roast the seeds   

Pumpkin seeds are especially delicious roasted, not to mention nutritious and FUN to eat. After washing and drying, toss in olive oil, add some salt and your favorite seasoning, spread on a baking sheet, and bake at 300°F for 30–40 minutes (or until brown and crunchy).  Check out some more easy recipes here.

Donate it 

We’re not the only ones who love pumpkin. Some municipal zoos collect uncarved pumpkins for elephants and other animals. Check with the Houston Zoo to see if they’re accepting donations. Pig farms often accept both carved and uncarved pumpkins, like this farm in Liberty County. 

Get Crafty 

Before your pumpkin transforms into a slimy monster, consider one of these great DIY projects.   

Decorate for Thanksgiving  

Uncarved pumpkins have a surprising shelf life. They should keep until Thanksgiving on a shady porch.

Feed some butterflies 

Share pumpkin with butterflies by placing pieces on a shallow dish.  Learn how to make a feeder for fruit-loving butterflies here.  

Make a bird feeder   

Learn how by watching this quick video from the National Audubon Society.

Compost it 

When sent to the landfill pumpkins add to the 30.3 million tons of annual food waste in the US.  Food waste produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. Compost your pumpkin instead to capture its nutrients and enrich your potted plants or raised garden beds.  

If you have a backyard compost bin, cut the pumpkin into small pieces and add to the bin with other green material.  If you don’t have a bin, simply shovel out a shallow depression in the ground, lay the pumpkin pieces in and cover with leaves. Nature will do the rest of the work and in a few weeks you’ll have compost that can either be left in place or scooped out and applied to your garden or lawn.   

Learn all about backyard composting on Saturday, November 6, 2021, by attending The Woodlands Township’s free backyard composting class at 8203 Millennium Forest Dr., from 10 am to 11:00 am. High quality C.E. Shepherd compost bins will be for sale for $50 each.

Backyard Composting Week

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for nearly 24% of all landfill material, consuming space and producing methane, a greenhouse gas that’s up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Much of this waste could be easily composted instead. From leftovers to kitchen scraps, composting is a great way to manage food waste, quickly turning it from problem to resource, right in your own backyard.   

This week The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department brings you resources for starting or enhancing your backyard composting. Wherever you are on your home composting journey, these handy resources will help. 

Beginner Composter 

Composting 101

Learn to compost in only 15 minutes. This video walks you through the process, from beginning to end.  Easy-to-follow instructions and great visuals will have you composting in no time.   

Backyard Composting Guide

Keep this comprehensive, step-by-step brochure handy as you design, build and manage your compost pile. You’ll find yourself enjoying nutrient rich compost in as little as three months.

Benefits of Using Compost and Mulch

On the fence about starting your own composting bin? This compelling resource, which covers the multitude of ecological, economic and sustainability benefits of composting, will leave you convinced and inspired.

Experienced Composter 

Soil Food Web Compost and Compost Tea 

Have you been composting for a while? Looking to take it to the next level? Dr. Elaine Ingham’s video explores microbes, compost tea, humic acid, and new temperature and humidity reading techniques.  

Composting with Worms:  Seven Easy Steps

Vermicomposting is a great option for composting at home, especially if you’re lacking yard space. Use worms to breakdown your food waste and yard trimmings – explained in seven easy steps. 

Compost Bins for Sale

The Woodlands Township offers high quality compost bins that set up in seconds for only $65; retail price is $150-$200. Call The Woodlands Township at 281-210-2058 to purchase and arrange for pickup. 

Looking for more composting resources?  Check out the November resources we pulled together on Backyard Composting here.

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

It’s Backyard Composting Week!

Composting is natural recycling. Put your yard trimmings and kitchen scraps to work by creating nutrient rich homemade compost in your own back yard. This week the Environmental Services Department is focusing on backyard composting. Whether you are new to composting or have been doing it for years, we’ve got some great tips and resources to help you out.  

Benefits of Composting  

Learn how composting can add value to your home landscape. 

Composting During COVID-19 Fact Sheet 

Home composting is safe even in the current COVID-19 situation.  Find out more from the US Composting Council. 


Beginning Composter  

If you are thinking about composting but haven’t started yet, these resources are just for you. Need a quick start “how to compost” guide? In just a few minutes, National Geographic will teach you how to begin composting at home.

Click the photo above to watch the National Geographic Green Guide

Remember the essentials of composting by using this easy one-page guide from Texas A&M. 


Already Composting   

Learn how to enhance your composting skills with this informative webinar from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 

Texas A&M’s “do it yourself” guide offers more information on backyard composting. 


Experienced Composter  

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance offers detailed home composting information in this 1.5-hour webinar. 

Compost Bins for Sale

To help you get started with backyard composting, The Woodlands Township is offering high quality collapsible compost bins for only $50. If purchased online, these bins retail for $150-$200. Call The Woodlands Township 281-210-3800, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to purchase.  Bin pick up is available by appointment.  Happy Composting! 

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