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

Recycling Dilemma #1006 – Cut Out Contamination

Recycling conserves resources, saves energy, prevents pollution and reduces landfill space. We all have the best intentions to do right by recycling, but did you know that recycling correctly is just as important as deciding to recycle in the first place? 

In The Woodlands, we have a single-stream recycling program that allows all accepted recyclables to be placed in one container. Bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, cartons and glass can all go freely into one container, no sorting or bagging needed (in fact, you should never bag your recyclables). Because materials are commingled, they must be sorted when they get to the recycling center. 

Sorting equipment at the recycling center is designed  to sort only the items accepted in the program. All other items are considered contamination. Contamination damages equipment, creates unsafe work conditions for staff and decreases the value of recyclables. 

Did you know? In extreme cases, too much contamination can send an entire truck load of recyclables to the landfill. 


The most common contaminants to AVOID putting in your recycling cart are: 

  • Plastic Bags & Film – Return these to a local grocery store for proper recycling.  
  • Tanglers – No hoses, hangers, wires, chains or electronics. 
  • Clothing or Linens – Donate usable clothing and linens to local charitable organizations. Recycle items unsuitable for donation using the curbside Simple Recycling Textile Program.  
  • Food and Liquid – Recyclables must be clean; remember to empty and rinse all containers. Greasy pizza boxes, paper plates and towels belong in the trash. 
  • Styrofoam or #6 Plastic – Look for the symbol. Only plastics labelled #1-5 are accepted

When in doubt, throw it out! Even better, call The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department for help with recycling right, 281-210-3800. 


Please remember to always follow Waste Management guidelines which can be found on the lid of your recycling cart. For more recycling resources, visit the Township’s recycling webpage.  

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 on Saturday, November 14, 2020 from 8 a.m. to noon at The Woodlands Farmer’s Market

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? 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

Recycling Dilemma #1005 – Take-out Containers

Determining if something is recyclable can be harder than deciding what to order for dinner. Before you take out your recycling, use these tips to ensure you’re recycling take out containers correctly. By recycling the accepted items and ONLY the accepted items, you help ensure the success of our curbside program.

Check out these tips from previous blogs: 

Want more ideas on how to reduce waste? Check out this blog for easy steps to take and kick your plastic habit. 


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

Recycle More At The Store

Plastic bags are not an acceptable material in our curbside recycling carts. Many of us choose to reuse the plastic bags that float into our lives, but did you know that most of your plastic packaging can be recycled at a participating store if it is clean and dry? Look for the receptacle near the entrance.

Recyclable Items to Take to Store Include:

  • Air Pillows and Bubble Wrap
  • Case Wrap, Pallet/Stretch Wrap
  • Newspaper and Magazine Sleeves
  • Bags on Clothing or Electronics
  • Dry Cleaning Bags
  • Bread Bags, Produce Bags, Food Storage Bags
  • Grocery/Retail Bags & Other Film Packages
    (Check for the How2Recycle label)

Learn more about why plastic film doesn’t belong in your curbside bin and should go to the grocery store instead.

For more information about recycling plastic film, you can visit www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.  

For more information about curbside and other recycling opportunities in The Woodlands, please visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/recycling.

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


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