Zachary Thibodeaux is currently a senior in the Academy of Science and Technology at The Woodlands College Park High School. He is also a dedicated environmentalist who wanted to pursue an internship where he could make a difference in the community. This summer he did just that, lending his talents and passion to The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department’s education programs.
One large role Zachary played was taking the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) on the road to local grocery stores. There he engaged with residents, providing information about recycling plastic bags and film at the store and helping to reduce single-use plastics by handing out over 234 reusable produce bags. Using a data sheet he created, Zachary collected information on how many residents knew that plastic film was accepted at the store, and other metrics that will help improve WRAP education and outreach.
He stated, “The most valuable thing I learned is that community involvement is vital to achieving environmental goals.” He believes the Environmental Services internship inspired him to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. For example, working on the WRAP Program has helped him to remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store to reduce plastic waste. The WRAP Program also motivated him to check all plastic film to see if it can be recycled before he throws it away. He feels this internship helped him prepare for studying environmental engineering in college because it helped expand his knowledge of several environmental issues, including litter/pollution, recycling, and native vs. invasive species, all of which environmental engineers might focus on. He also acquired more experience working with data, such as determining what data to collect, analyzing it, and reporting his results, which is especially important for fields related to science or engineering.
Zachary assisted the Environmental Services Department with several other projects including the Bioblitz BioBooth, where he shared information about the importance of native plants alongside a prospective Eagle Scout working on Invasive Species Removal. A Texas Waters Specialist, Zachary also attended litter audits as part of the department’s Watershed Project. He participated in the Waterway Cleanups and analyzed data from past litter audits to determine what types of litter were of the greatest concern in The Woodlands, and compare the debris found at various locations within The Woodlands to inform future messaging.
From day one, Zachary had a positive attitude and came in with an open mind and motivation to learn. Seeing Zachary grow professionally and academically this summer was inspiring, and a reminder that the next generation of professionals will surely make a positive impact on society. We’re grateful for all the work Zachary has put into his internship with Environmental Services and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors! We have no doubt he has a bright future ahead.
Earth Day is an annual celebration on April 22nd to promote environmental awareness. The first Earth Day was in 1970 which started the modern environmental movement. A long-lasting tradition of The Woodlands Township is the annual celebration of Earth Day. This celebration includes the GreenUp litter cleanup event back this past March. This year 611 community volunteers removed over 1,100 lbs of litter!
Coming up on Saturday, May 13th, 2023, from 10 am – 1 pm is the Woodlands Township Earth Day Festival at Northshore Park. Bring your family and friends to celebrate mother earth with fun and educational activities. Enjoy live entertainment, face painting, games, educational displays, and meet organizations that celebrate earth day every day.
Whether you’re outside participating in the Iron Man this weekend or prefer to stay home, The Woodlands Township has many programs and resources to help you celebrate Earth Day. Here are 8 ways to celebrate Earth Day year-round!
1. Conserve Water
Conserving water saves energy, and using less water keeps more in our ecosystems. There are many ways to conserve water from taking shorter showers, turning off the water while you brush your teeth or installing drip irrigation in your garden. Drip irrigation delivers water to your plants right where they need it most- the roots. Learn how to install a simple system yourself at this free workshop Saturday, May 20 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Register Today to save your place.
2. Plant a Tree
Planting trees has many environmental benefits and can improve the quality of life of the community. Every February, the Woodlands Township hosts an annual community tree planting event. Learn more about the Community Tree Planting Eventon the Woodlands Township website. The Woodlands Township hosts an Annual Arbor Day Tree Giveaway to encourage residents to help reforest our community. If you don’t want to wait until Arbor Day, read the Environmental Services DepartmentNative Trees article to learn the best way to plant a tree and ensure it thrives.
Reducing waste is one of the many things you can do to help lessen your carbon footprint. Read the Recycle-More-Guide to see what and where to recycle beyond the curbside cart! Or save your hard-to-recycle items for the 3R Drive Thru.This special collections day in November gives you the opportunity to drop off items you’re not able to put in your curbside cart.
One way to reduce the amount of waste in landfills is to compost. The Woodlands Township offers free backyard composting classes every year in the spring and fall. If you are interested in trying this at home, you can buy a compost bin from Environmental Services anytime. Learn more about The Woodlands Township Composting Resourceshere.Last October, The Woodlands Township had its firstPumpkin Smash Event. It was a Smashing success and a great way for residents to dispose of their pumpkins in an environmentally friendly manner. Find out details on the Woodlands Township Calendar.
5. Support Wildlife
You can make a difference starting in your own backyard. The Woodlands Township has many programs, workshops, seminars, and volunteer opportunities available to help support your local wildlife. National Pollinator Week is right around the corner, with spring in full bloom there are many ways you can support our native pollinators. Planting native milkweed or nectar-producing plants is a great way to support habitats and encourage pollinators to stop by! Additional resources are in the Environmental Services Blog. Invasive species take over the environment and cause harm to the stability of ecosystems. Join the Woodlands TownshipInvasive Species Task Force to help.
6. Pick Up Litter
Keep the community clean by picking up litter in our public spaces. The Woodlands Township has trash grabbers, gloves, and trash bags available to be picked up by appointment. Also, the Earth Day GreenUp, a community clean-up event takes place every March, and again in September. Both theGreenUp and GreenUp Fall Sweep information can be found on the Woodlands Township website If you’re interested in keeping the Woodlands free of litter Adopt-A-Path is a year-round program that you can apply to join. Additional information can be found on the Adopt-A-Path webpage.
7. Immerse Yourself in Nature
Going outdoors and educating yourself about the wonders of nature is a wonderful way to appreciate the earth. The Woodlands Township has two upcoming events that are great opportunities to learn about nature. The Great Texas Birding Classic will be held on April 29th, at the George Mitchell Nature Preserve. This event is a bird-watching competition across Texas, and the Woodlands Township has a registered team. More information about this event is on the calendar listing. If you can’t attend the Great Texas Birding Classic, we have birding backpacks available to rent year-round for those interested in birding! Make a reservation here
Another event coming up is the Bioblitz during Pollinator Week. It is a two-part event, starting June 19 through June 25 is the week-long community effort to identify as many species as possible through the iNaturalist App. Then join the in-person event on Saturday, June 24th at Rob Flemming to continue the search in person and visit the BioBooth. Read about BioBlitzon The Woodlands Township website.
There are many benefits to gardening, it improves the quality of air in the soil, provides habitat and cover for pollinators, and adds to the aesthetic of the environment. The Woodlands Township provides two home gardening classes, one in the spring and one in the fall which is coming up on August 21st, you can register here. The Woodlands Township administers community gardens, if you’re interested in a garden plot call the Environmental Services department and ask to be connected to the community garden coordinator.
There are many ways to celebrate earth day year-round. Some of those include finding ways to conserve water, planting trees, recycling and composting to reduce waste, supporting local wildlife, picking up litter, and gardening. The Woodlands Township has multiple resources to help you on your journey to becoming more environmentally friendly and connecting with your community. If you have any questions, visitThe Woodlands Township Environmental Services Websiteor search the online library for your favorite topics.
This New Year, while fine-tuning your list of personal resolutions, how about including a few goals to help the environment? Changing habits can take effort. One theory of behavior change is the Fogg Behavior Model (FBM). This model posits that motivation, ability, and triggers are the three key factors for any behavior change—the higher the motivation, the greater the ability to perform the new behavior and the presence of a trigger drive how well one can make a change.
Here are ten “triggers” for resolutions that can make for a healthier earth.
Use reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags are the second most prevalent form of litter, with over 4 billion bags getting carried by wind, clogging storm drains and littering our forests, rivers, and oceans every year. According to Plastic Oceans, eight million tons of plastic end up in our waters each year harming marine life. Carry a tote or two and forgo the plastic bag.
Turn off the water while you brush. It can save up to 200 gallons of water a month. That’s good for your water bill and the environment. Learn more ways you can conserve water in your home at Sustainability.ncsu.edu
Reduce your lawn. Lawns are water hogs that also are often chemically dependent. Cut back on turf grass and plant natives instead. This single step helps conserve water, reduces polluted water runoff, and enriches biodiversity.
Compost kitchen waste. Organic waste in landfills generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting wasted food and other organics, methane emissions are significantly reduced. So refrain from dumping those nitrogen-rich coffee grounds or calcium-loaded egg shells and other organic kitchen waste. Enrich the soil instead. Learn more about the environmental benefits to composting at EPA.gov
Ditch paper towels. They may be easier, but in one year alone, Americans use 13 billion pounds of paper towels. That’s about 45 pounds per person. If everyone used just one paper towel less, 570 million pounds of paper waste would be eliminated per year. In case that’s not enough to make a change, it goes without saying that paper towels simply can’t rival the charm of a kitchen towel.
Eliminate phantom power usage. When household devises are left plugged in they still use energy—even those chargers with no phone or tablet attached. The draw may be small, but collectively and over time it adds up. Unplug. Or, use a smart power strip that reduces your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode. Doing so may save you some cash. Statistics vary, but experts say standby power consumption ranges from 5 to 10 percent of total household energy consumption on average.
Cook from scratch. In a busy household, this may be challenging but the benefits are manifold. Processed foods come with loads of packaging that ends up in landfills yet deliver little nutritional value. Cut down on waste and improve health with some good old home cooking.
Bring your own water bottle. Not only do all the plastic water bottles we use require 17 million barrels of oil to be produced, in 86% of the time they end up in landfills. You’ve seen some of the neat reusable water bottles on the market—consider buying one and using filtered tap water instead.
Walk, bike, use public transportation. Bikes have been hailed as the most efficient transportation ever invented. Why not bike for those short trips? While helping to reduce emissions and saving on gas, you’ll be helping yourself stay fit at the same time.
Cut back on meat. This may challenge carnivores, but consider this: industrially farmed corn and soybean that feeds livestock is a major source of greenhouse gasses and air and water pollution. What’s more is that it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of meat. Yet, only 25 gallons of water are required to grow 1 pound of wheat. You can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you can by not showering for six months!
When you crave that steak, only buy meat from grass-fed livestock.Eating less meat can have health benefits too. Check out more information about the benefits of reducing meat in your diet by The Mayo Clinic.
The Environmental Services Department wishes you a safe and Happy New Year!
Did you know The Woodlands Township has more than 40 ponds in its parks system?! Many are stocked with bass, catfish and more, making them a great place to go fishing this summer. All bodies of water are catch-and-release, meaning you must remove the hook and toss your catch back into the water, except for Bear Branch Reservoir, Lake Paloma and Lake Woodlands, where you can keep the fish you catch.
It’s critical we take care of this precious resource so we can enjoy it for many years. The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department offers year-round programs to educate residents on the health of our waterways and provide opportunities to get involved. Visit our website for a list of upcoming programs including the Storm Drain Marking Project, the Pet Waste Project and the Invasives Task Force Program, all of which take action to protect our waterways.
Some of our younger residents have taken up the cause to protect local aquatic wildlife and keep our waterways clean through a new recycling program at local ponds. Thanks to the hard work of two local Eagle Scout candidates, twelve township parks now have monofilament recycling stations(MRS) available for the public to use. Discarded monofilament line, or single-strand nylon fishing line, entangles birds, turtles and fish, causing unnecessary injury or mortality that could easily be prevented when properly discarded.
Daniel Verachtert first approached The Woodlands Township with his proposed Eagle Scout project to install an MRS at Northshore Park, Lake Paloma and Rob Fleming Park. Daniel’s project was well received and laid the groundwork for another Eagle Scout candidate, Colton Moore, to build and install eight additional MRS’s at parks throughout The Woodlands.
An MRS not only provides a place to safely dispose of unwanted fishing line, but the collected line is cleaned of hooks, weights and trash and then shipped out for recycling where is it melted down and turned into other plastic products. So, next time you’re casting a line at a local pond, be sure to collect your broken, tangled or unwanted line and drop it off for recycling at one of these twelve parks with a monofilament recycling station:
“I’ve always loved fishing, and I fish a lot at the ponds in the Woodlands. I really enjoyed carrying out an eagle scout project that aligned with my personal interests so well, and I’ve committed to collecting fishing line from the recycling stations for the next three years until I go to college.”
Remember, a fishing license is required for all residents and non-residents to fish in public waters of Texas for almost everyone over the age of 17. All lakes and ponds other than Bear Branch Reservoir, Lake Paloma and Lake Woodlands, are strictly catch-and-release but do NOT require a fishing license since they’re considered private waters. The upper portion of The Woodlands Waterway and Lake Robbins are the only bodies of water in The Woodlands that DO NOT allow fishing.
Landfills received 11.3 million tons of textiles in 2018 and that number is only growing. Turn your rags into resources by recycling clothing unsuited for donation to a textile recycler.
Fashion trends come and go and when they do, your pile of last season’s cast-offs mount. Conscientious citizens donate these to their favorite charity for a shot at a new life with a new owner. But what to do if your used stuff isn’t up to snuff?
Always give pre-loved, gently worn clothing, furniture and home goodsa new home before considering recycling or disposal. Check out the Township’s Donation Guide for a list of local donation centers with easy pickup and drop off options. If you frequent one of these organizations, ask them if they recycle their leftover textiles. Some locations accept scrap fabric and overly worn items separate from your good items and are able to make a profit selling their scrap to a recycler.
Bypass the landfill and turn your old rags into re-usable textile fibers that just might turn into next season’s must-haves.
It’s simple to schedule a pickup of worn textiles and home goods from the comfort of your home. Fill a kitchen bag with worn clothes, towels, and bedding – no matter the condition – and schedule pickup at your front door. Voila – instant recycling!
When you recycle textiles, you help the environment by…
…minimizing landfill footprint
Landfills serve their purpose but they’re lousy for the environment and a burden to taxpayers. Making room for our trash is expensive—never mind the loss of land set aside for this purpose.
Did you know?Every 2000 lbs. of clothing that’s kept out of the landfill has the same environmental impact as removing 2 cars from the road.
…reducing greenhouse gasses
A landfill is a hotbed of carbon dioxide and methane. Decomposing textiles ramp up those methane levels —the most significant contributor to climate change.
…conserving water and reducing chemical waste
Nearly every step of textile production depends on water—water that’s loaded with dyes and chemicals. The industrial waste byproduct is a major watershed pollutant in countries that lack environmental regulation.
Did you know?It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans and 600 gallons to make that t-shirt you’re wearing.
It’s easy to be green and recycle textiles at your door!
If your items aren’t in good enough condition to donate, schedule a recycling pickup with a local textile recycling company such as Green City Recycler. Just follow the steps below.