Repurpose this holiday season

60% off holiday decorations! How can you pass up those savings? But, if you’re like most of us, you already have an attic full of boxes of cards, lights, and ornaments. They might be worn but they still have life. Consider repurposing them into something new this holiday season. Don’t know where to begin? Here are some tips to get you started.

Holiday Cards

Many of us are guilty of keeping piles of holiday cards from loved ones. Too difficult to toss out warm wishes and photos of the family in matching outfits. Bring those memories out of the box and give them new life.

  • Coasters  Perfect for your ugly sweater party. Check out this great tutorial here.
  • Tree Garland  With a little rope and glue you can turn those cards into garland for your tree or mantel.  Here’s how.
  • Gift tags Personalize gifts with a handmade gift tag by following these simple instructions.  

Trees

Real or artificial, trees are an essential part of the holidays.  After presents are opened and ornaments packed away, what will you do with your tree?  Before you toss it to the curb, or buy a bigger, better version, consider one of the following.

Recycle Natural Trees Donate it to The Woodlands Township. The Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park will have a designated area in the parking lot to drop natural trees from December 26, 2019 through January 7, 2020. Donated trees will be ground into chips to help refurbish the forest floor. Trees must be completely clean before drop-off. Remove any tinsel, decorations or any other materials that would litter the forest floor. Flocked (white) natural trees and artificial trees will not be accepted.

Natural trees are also available for curbside pickup by Waste Management. Remove all decorations, lights and tree stands and place at the curb on your service day. Natural trees will be composted, just like your yard trimmings that get picked up every week.  If you have a flocked tree, please call 1-800-800-5804, at least two days before your service day to schedule a bulk pick up. Flocked trees must be landfilled. 

Or, check out these creative ways to use your tree year round.

  • Log Wreath Perfect for Fall. Cut your tree into thin wood slices and follow the tutorial here.
  • Branch Tree From the Queen of Craft herself, Martha Stewart shows you how to reuse branches to display ornaments beyond the life of your tree.
  • Bird Feeder Stick your tree in the ground or keep it in the stand. Decorate your tree with stale bread, pinecones rolled in peanut butter and bird seed, or strings of popcorn and cranberry seeds.

Repurpose Artificial Trees If you have a broken artificial tree or have upgraded to a bigger, better version don’t kick it to the curb without trying one of these simple crafts.

  • Garland with Lights With a little elbow grease, some ribbon and a strand of lights, your artificial tree will transform into beautiful garland to trim your doorway, mantel or windows.
  • Snowflakes It may not snow much around here, but this step-by-step guide will show you how to create a winter wonderland with your very own snowflakes using two branches from your artificial tree.
  • Holiday Swags Upcycle your artificial tree and create beautiful swags to hang around the house.  This video walks you through how easy it is to make these festive decorations.

Lights

It’s inevitable, you finally finish hanging all the lights, plug in the tree and nothing happens. Loose wiring? Broken bulb? Bad extension cord? Do you check each light, one by one, or just run to the store and buy more? If you find that you have accumulated a few years’ worth of lights, try some of these DIY projects and shine a light on the joys of upcycling this season.

  • If you’ve upgraded to LEDs and have a strand or two of the old incandescent lights, save those torpedo-shaped bulbs and turn them into glitter-adorned ornaments. Watch this video and don’t forget to recycle used ribbon to hang your new ornament from the tree.
  • Hula Hoop Chandelier Have you found yourself with too many strands of lights? Get creative and personalize your home with this handmade chandelier.
  • Light Repair Why not try to fix something before throwing it away? This article will help you get your lights back in working order.
Strands of lights are not recyclable through your curbside service but can be taken to Precinct 3 to be recycled

Many of these repurposed items also make wonderful gifts. So when you are cleaning out the garage, attic or storage unit, take some time and consider if you can turn old into new again and repurpose your holiday decorations.

Already a DIY’er? Leave a reply at the bottom of the page and let us know how you repurpose or recycle your holiday decorations.

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Guide

The best gifts come in sustainable packages!

Approximately 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year with 2.3 million pounds ending up in the landfill.

Holiday wrapping paper is often coated in plastic or foil causing it to be non-recyclable. If the wrapping paper is metallic, has glitter on it, or has a texture to it, it is not recyclable. Gift wrap mistakenly put in the recycling cart harms the value of other collected paper at the recycling center.

Beautiful paper like these: glitter, metallic, textured and reversible are NOT recyclable wrapping papers.

If it feels like plain paper, not slick or wax coated, or is made from recycled paper, then it’s a wrapping paper that can be recycled.  Another way to test recyclability is to crush the paper into a ball. If it stays bunched up, it is likely recyclable.

An eco-friendly gift is thoughtful for the recipient and the planet! Check out these tips for a greener holiday.

Reusable Gift Wrap and Recycled Paper

If the holiday rush has you hustling and there’s no time for crafting, consider purchasing a reusable alternative. Fabric gift wraps, nice tea towels, scarves and bandannas make excellent choices.

For wrapping boxes, try using found newspaper or purchasing wrapping paper made with recycled content.  Really get in to the recycling spirit with these two simple crafts and make your own gift box or hand-made bow this holiday season.


Shopping Bag Bow

Materials:

  • Paper – shopping bag, newspaper, etc.
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Double-sided tape

Instructions:

Cut your paper into nine strips, each ¾ of an inch wide. Next, measure and cut the length. You’ll need three strips that are 11” long, three strips that are 10” long, two strips that are 9” long and 1 strip that is 3 1/2” long.

Using one strip of paper at a time, twist each end toward the center until they meet in the middle and create a loop. Secure the ends in place with double-sided tape. Repeat with the remaining eight strips, with the exception of the 3 ½” inch strip; loop that one into a circle.

Start with the three longest strips of paper and begin stacking in descending order by size; largest on the bottom. Secure each loop in place with tape. Finish with the circle loop in the center. Attach your bow on top of your gift wrapped in recyclable paper.


Create a Gift Box

Turn any recycled card stock into a gift box. Find old record covers, cereal boxes, or old shipping boxes and make a custom box for a loved one.

Materials:

  • Card Stock
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Hot glue or double-sided tape

Instructions for an 8 inch square box:

Trim two pieces of card stock into a square that is 12″ wide and long.

For the top: Draw a line 2″ wide on each side. For the bottom: Draw a line 2 1/4″ wide on each side. Press firmly to score lines but not too hard or you might cut or tear the card stock. See image below.

Use scissors to lightly score along the lines

Cut alternating flaps as marked on the image below. Fold along all four scored lines on each piece of card stock. Use glue or tape to secure each corner flap inside the longer, side piece of the box. 

Use clothespins to secure corners while glue is drying

Once glue dries or the corners are secured with tape, you have a custom, upcycled box to fill with a special gift for friends, family or the holiday gift swap at the office.

Questions? Contact our staff at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Take the Plastic Free Pledge: Choose to Refuse!

Summer vacation means more parties, picnics, and eating on-the-go! It’s time to reflect on our disposable habits. Plastic Free July highlights how our short-term convenient choices can have long-term impacts on our environment.

Did You Know?

“Eight out of ten items found on beaches in international coastal cleanups are related to eating and drinking,” according to One World One Ocean. This is one problem with an easy solution: choose to refuse!

Top five ways to reduce plastic in your daily life:

  1. Bring your own bag. The average time each plastic bag is used is less than 15 minutes
  2. Bring your own bottle. The amount of water used to produce a plastic bottle is 6 to 7 times the amount of water in the bottle.
  3. Bring your own mug. Many coffee shops give a discount if you bring your own container!
  4. 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.
  5. Kick the disposable straw habit. Plastic straws are not recyclable.. If you must use a straw, try a reusable one made of stainless steel or bamboo.

Take The Woodlands Plastic Free Pledge for a FREE stainless steel reusable straw and let us know how YOU will break your disposable habit!

Explore more easy tips here! Encourage others to BYO with these posters!


At home and on the go, when you can’t reduce, remember to recycle! Discover new opportunities to recycle beyond the norm at this year’s 3R Bazaar on November 9th at The Woodlands Farmer’s Market at Grogan’s Mill. Bring batteries, toothbrushes, textiles, eyeglasses and more for special recycling collections. Need more information? Call the Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800.

World Ocean Day : The cost of litter

June 8th is World Ocean Day, a celebration of the mysterious blue waters that cover 70% of the planet and provide a home for  50-80% of all life on earth. Healthy oceans and coasts provide services that are critical to sustaining life on land including climate regulation, food, medicines, and even compounds that make peanut butter easy to spread!


Source: NOAA Why Care About The Ocean?

Currently, the largest threat to the ocean is pollution, primarily from plastics. Plastics, synthetic organic polymers normally created from petroleum, are so long lasting that all the plastic that has ever been created still exists today. Once they enter our waters, plastics entangle marine life or erode into smaller particles that are then ingested. Every piece of litter we pick up on land, including here in The Woodlands, helps the ocean and the life within.

Where does pollution come from?

The majority of ocean pollution originates on land as trash that blows out of landfills, litter that was left behind in outdoor spaces, waste from processing facilities and illegal dumping. Litter can travel long distances through storm drains, lakes and rivers to reach the ocean.   Located in the Gulf Coast Region, litter in The Woodlands eventually makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico if we don’t take the opportunity to remove it before it enters our waterways.  Beach goers and recreational boaters visiting our lakes and shores can greatly reduce ocean pollution by properly disposing of any trash, especially fishing nets, plastics bottles and bags. 

What does it cost?

Litter costs Texas taxpayers $40 million annually in clean up efforts, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. If every Texan picked up two pieces of trash each month, our highways would be completely litter-free in just one year. That money could be reallocated towards other programs working to clean our oceans. 

The top litter items found in the environment are cigarette butts and food/retail industry waste such as take out containers, straws and cutlery.

Let’s answer the call to action for our oceans!

Here’s how we can make a difference:

  1. Coordinate your own cleanup
  • Bring a bucket to the beach, one for treasures and one for trash; recycle what you can

2. Support an organization

  • There are many groups forming their own cleanups. Become involved or consider making a donation.

3. Not able to make it to the shoreline? There’s plenty you can do at home

  • Reduce plastics by, purchasing items with less packaging when shopping
  • Reuse as much as you canbring your own bags & bottles
  • Refuse single use plastics such as straws, bags and cutlery.

Start saving batteries for the Village Recycling Challenge!

3R Bazaar 2019: Reduce, Recharge, Recycle

Save your batteries - 3r bazaar blog

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. But their convenience comes at a cost. Did you know that batteries make up almost 20% of all household hazardous materials sent to landfills? This presents a problem as the elements a battery uses to create power – mercury, lead, cadmium, or nickel – leach out when the battery inevitably breaks down inside the landfill, potentially contaminating the surrounding water table.

Recycling batteries protects our water supply by keeping heavy metals at bay, while simultaneously saving resources.

Batteries – like numerous items – are recyclable, but not accepted at the sorting facility where our residential recycling ends up. 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 held at the 3R Bazaar on Saturday, November 9, 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. You can further support your village by helping collect and weigh incoming batteries  at 3R Bazaar; if you are interested in volunteering contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov.

 Can’t make it to 3R Bazaar? That’s ok! The Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring) and Batteries Plus accept alkaline and rechargeable batteries all year. For a comprehensive list of where to take other 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 each rechargeable battery saves money in the long run, substituting for 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.

For more information about other items collected at the 3R Bazaar, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/3rbazaar.