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.

Benefits of a healthy waterway

“Forested and vegetated waterways provide a multitude of benefits to our air and water quality, flood resilience, our sense of community, and public health” according to Justin Bower, Principal Planner, Community and Environmental Planning, for Houston-Galveston Area Council. He also points out that “everything that happens on the land, including our yards, driveways, roads and open spaces, can wash pollutants and contaminants into our waterways when it rains.” 

Explore the critical benefits of healthy forests, riparian areas (streamside vegetation) and waterways by attending the Smarter About Sustainability Seminar on Saturday, May 14 with Justin Bower. You’ll learn… 

  • How riparian areas are the last line of defense for slowing and filtering stormwater before it reaches the creeks and lakes we depend on.  
  • The direct link between our lawns and landscapes and healthy riparian zones and waterways. 
  • Best landscaping practices for protecting our waters and riparian zones including adding native plants and organic fertilizing.  
  • Opportunities to join community volunteer efforts.  

A body of water with trees around it

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Summer clouds over Bear Branch

We’ll also dive into the damaging effects of invasive species. Ashley Morgan-Olvera, Outreach and Education Director for the Texas Invasive Species Institute at Sam Houston State University, will fill us in on why keeping invasive, and destructive, animals and vegetation out of our community’s forests and stream areas enhances the benefits we gain from these critical ecosystems. Learn how you can make a difference by volunteering with our local Invasives Task Force to help remove invasives from our pathways and public green spaces by attending. 

Smarter About Sustainability Seminar 

Date/Time: Saturday, May 14, 2022 | 9a.m. to noon 

Location: Online 

This is a FREE Seminar. REGISTRATION is required. 

Why is Drip Irrigation so Popular?

Less water, less work, healthier plants

Drip irrigation is the smarter way to water. It’s the most effective way to deliver water directly to a plant’s root zone, resulting in lusher, healthier plants. No wonder it’s become a revolution in home landscaping. Oh, and you’ll save A LOT of water, time and money, too!

If you haven’t taken a dive into drip yet, perhaps it’s because drip systems seem intimidating – a lot of hoses and connectors and such. That’s understandable. But the reality is, drip systems are simple in concept, something any DIYer can install and manage themselves. All the parts you need can be found at your local home improvement store, an average system can be set up in a couple hours, and the cost is usually recouped in one season of watering.

A few basic fundamentals (like where drip works best), a step-by-step guideline with a parts list, and a few pro tips will have you set up for success. You’ll find all this and more at the …

Drip Irrigation Workshop

Saturday, March 5 9 to 11 a.m.

Online via Zoom

If you’re considering hiring an installer for your new system, we still recommend you attend so you’ll know how to maintain your system and be able to add to it over time if you like.

During the workshop you can visit information booths, ask questions specific to your landscape, and learn how to get a 50% rebate on your drip purchases applied to your Woodlands Water bill. Did you know you can get rebates on native plants, rain barrels, smart water controllers, and rain sensors, too? We’ll show you how.

The workshop is free but registration is required to receive the Zoom link.

  • Date: Saturday, March 5, 2022
  • Location: Online via Zoom
  • Time: 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Presenter: John Taylor, President – Green Industry Solutions

Want a quick preview of how easy it is to convert a sprinkler head to drip? Check out this video.

The dilemma of protecting essential riparian buffers – how will you help?

Riparian buffers – ribbons of vegetation alongside streams and lakes – offer a host of critical ecological functions. Depending on their health, they can act as safety nets, protecting sensitive aquatic ecosystems or they can devolve into conduits for pollution and actually degrade water quality, making life difficult for aquatic organisms. Proper management is key.

“Riparian forest buffers can deliver a number of benefits including filtering nutrients, pesticides, and animal waste…stabilizing eroding banks…providing wildlife habitat and corridors…providing space for recreation.” – USDA National Agroforestry Center

What does proper management look like? For one…where these buffers lack trees, streams tend to be narrower because of encroaching grasses and other herbaceous plants. Forested riparian buffers shade out an overabundance of these less valuable, and potentially detrimental, elements. In deforested buffers, invasive plants and animals increase from the loss of habitat diversity, while native fish and other aquatic organisms decrease because of the degraded habitat.

In forested riparian buffers, the diversity of all native wildlife – frogs, turtles, beavers, birds, mammals – is full supported for food, shelter, nesting, travel corridors and species richness. Songbirds especially are best protected when buffers are wide and diverse.


To learn more about what you can do in your own landscape to protect our riparian buffers, don’t miss an online workshop on February 19, 2022 on Invasive Species. This presentation of The Woodlands Township Environmental Services will feature Ashley Morgan-Olvera, Director of Outreach and Education with Texas Invasive Species Institute at Sam Houston State University. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link to the workshop.

Yes, one person can make a difference, especially when part of a team of dedicated volunteers. You can join them!
photo courtesy of Kathie Herrick

How do invasive species trigger “trophic cascade”, and why should you care?

The Clean Water Act of 1977 mandated Federal agencies to prevent the introduction of invasive species, and the mandate was updated in an Executive Order in 1999 . (On linked website, search for Executive Order 13112) 

So why such a fuss about invasive species? Nature so often harshly reminds us that one thing leads to another, and it is doubly true when non-native invasive species move in. In both aquatic and terrestrial environments, detrimental changes begin immediately. And they continue to affect one after another of species’ populations or larger ecosystem communities. First may come the loss of soil organisms, meaning vegetation suffers from reduced nutrients. Then, species that feed on vegetation start falling out. Soon, higher level predators are affected when an adequate number of insects, small mammals and birds are no longer present. Scientists call this ripple effect through the food web a “trophic cascade.” Yes, you should care. 

A neighborhood under attack by invasive species.
photo courtesy of Kathie Herrick

We are prone to take all the good things from nature for granted, so sometimes we lose sight of the fact that without all the interactions that create vibrant ecosystems, we end up without vital benefits – things like clean waterways, clear air, forest products, recreational areas, and drinking water! 

Now you know. Will you take the next step to put that knowledge into action, helping to stop a trophic cascade along your favorite pathway? Join your many neighbors here in The Woodlands who monitor, control and remove invasive species. The Invasives Task Force of The Woodlands logs over a thousand hours a year in volunteer service to keep our pathways clear of damaging invasive species.  

If your answer is yes, the next workshop is coming up on February 19. Here’s the info:  

  • Presenter: Ashley Morgan-Olvera, Director, Research & Education, Texas Invasive Species Institute 
  • Time: 8:30 to 11:30a.m. 
  • This is an ONLINE workshop. REGISTER to receive the Zoom link.  

You don’t need to wait until February 19 to make a difference. Join the Invasives Task Force now – sign up HERE as a Volunteer! If you want to know even more about the damage caused by invasives, check out this article on the website of North American Invasive Species Management Association. 

Yes, one person can make a difference, especially when part of a team of dedicated volunteers. You can join them!
photo courtesy of Kathie Herrick