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.

What is your plastic footprint?

Earth Day 2019 It's in your hands

Ever feel like you need a PhD to recycle correctly? Here’s a trick for the next time you are about to put plastic in the curbside cart: look for a neck and a number. Accepted plastics are easily identified by their narrow “neck” as seen on a bottle of water, shampoo or detergent. Look closely and you’ll see a number printed on the bottom too – ensure that it’s not #6 and you can confidently recycle that plastic curbside.

Recyclable plastic bottles

What about all the other plastics without a neck or a number? Plastic bags, packaging, case wraps, disposable cutlery, straws, plates and cups cannot be put in the recycle cart. Avoid the temptation to “wishcycle” them – placing them in the recycling bin in the hope that they’ll magically be recycled. Limited markets and sorting technology for recyclables dictate which items are accepted.

Instead seek out a special local recycling opportunity for these other items. Plastic bags and films get tangled in the sorting machinery at the recycling facility, but they CAN be recycled at local grocery stores. Check out all the kinds of film that can be recycled this way – chances are if it stretches it can be recycled.

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Although very important, recycling isn’t the only tool we have to fight plastic pollution. When it comes to disposable items, reducing dependence on single-use plastics and packaging is the key.

Tips to reduce plastic waste:

  • Bring your own reusable tote bags, produce or bulk bags, travel mugs, stainless steel straws, reusable cutlery and water bottles.
  • Purchase products with less packaging such as loose produce and bulk dry goods.
  • Recycle right. Get familiar with what is accepted in your curbside cart and local opportunities for other items.

In the spirit of Earth Day, consider taking an inventory of how much single-use plastic you generate and choose to reduce. EarthDay.org has plastic pollution footprint calculators and an action guide to get you started. For an interesting look at the rise and proliferation of plastics check out this article in the April edition of The Woodlands Community Magazine.

For more information on recycling and waste minimization, contact The Woodlands Township Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or 281-210-3800.

The power of numbers

What do you get when a bunch of Woodlands residents join forces with 3R Bazaar and recycle? Tons of fun. And TONS of material for recycling, diverting it from landfills. Over six and a half tons, to be precise.

Over 13,358 pounds of recyclable items were collected at the 2018 3R Bazaar last month.

Over 800 Woodlands residents braved the chilly weather to reduce, reuse, and recycle at this year’s 3R Bazaar on November 10th, 2018. A big, warm “Thanks!” goes out to  everyone who attended this event at its new location, The Woodlands Farmer’s Market. Attendance and participation this year was record-breaking!

Lorax and drums

Let Them Drum joined forces with Waste Management and The Lorax to sound off for recycling.

And another huge “Thanks!” goes out to the team of volunteers who helped empower visitors with knowledge and tips for recycling successfully in our community.

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department would also like to thank  the generosity of its sponsors: Waste Management, Gullo Dealerships, Southern Shred and WJPA.

Take a look at what was collected:

3R Bazaar Collection graphic

In addition to this, $1,226.21 and 551 pounds of canned food items were collected for the Interfaith Food Pantry.

The Village Challenge battery collection resulted in a total of  $4,600 donated to the Villages’ scholarship funds by The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. through the generosity of HEB, WJPA and Woodlands Development Company.

3R bags

Reusable bags are a shopping essential. Remember to bring your own when you shop.

A tip for the new year…

By properly disposing of and keeping batteries out of the landfill, we prevent toxins from leaching into the surrounding water table. Consider investing in rechargeable batteries. They may cost more initially, but each rechargeable battery can substitute 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.

Didn’t make it to 3R Bazaar? That’s ok! The Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring), Home Depot, Lowes, Batteries Plus, Best Buy, and some Walmarts accept batteries all year. Call ahead for specifics and possible fees.

 

Megan Atom and Taylor

Festival mascots reminded the crowd to recycle cans, minimize use of single-use shopping bags, and keep plastic wrap and tanglers out of the recycle bin. Instead, recycle them at your grocery store along with plastic bags.

For a comprehensive list of local recycling opportunities of other oddities such as electronics, light bulbs, paints, pharmaceuticals, and more check out the Recycle More Guide.

Live music, shopping, and fun!

Enjoy it all at 3R Bazaar this Saturday at
The Woodlands Farmer’s Market at Grogan’s Mill.

3R Bazaar png logo

Saturday, November 10
8 a.m. to noon

farmers+market

Reduce, reuse, recycle, recharge, repair, recover, reimagine, refuse – however you choose, the opportunities to divert waste from our landfills are infinite. Find out how at 3R Bazaar.

Discover artwork created by local artists using up-cycled materials.

Purchase treasures made from recycled or sustainable materials.

Kids can contribute to a plastic cap collage with The Woodlands Children’s Museum.

Create a “coollage” with eco-impressionist, Grant Manier.

Stage a super selfie with the Polymer Princess and Canned Crusader.

Recycling services on site

Bring items listed below for free recycling and learn how you can improve your current recycling routine at home by reducing contamination and helping to keep recycling strong. This year’s Village Challenge features the collection of Alkaline Batteries AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt ONLY. Each village will receive scholarship funds based on the amount collected.

Alkaline Batteries
AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt ONLY
NO rechargeable; NO lead-acid

Textiles
Unusable condition

Eyeglasses
Prescription and reading glasses, sunglasses
Plastic and metal frames; cases

Oral Care Products
Collected by Girl Scout Cadette Troop 11953
Used toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes, and floss containers

Secure document shredding on site

Boxed or bagged personal documents
Residential only
Please donate 5 cans of food or $5 per box to benefit Interfaith Food Pantry

For more information or inquiries about being involved in next year’s event, please visit the 3R Bazaar page on the Township website or call 281-210-3800.

Rethink waste at 3R Bazaar

Reduce, reuse, recycle, recharge, repair, recover, reimagine, refuse – however you choose, the opportunities to divert waste from our landfills are infinite. Join The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department in celebrating America Recycles Day 2018 at the 3R Bazaar, this year at its new location, The Woodlands Farmer’s Market at Grogan’s Mill. Enjoy live music, locally sourced foods, shopping and fun for the whole family on November 10 from 8 a.m. to noon.

3R Bazaar

Recycle

Bring items listed below for free recycling and learn how you can improve your current recycling routine at home by reducing contamination and helping to keep recycling strong. This year’s Village Challenge features the collection of Alkaline Batteries AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt ONLY. Each village will receive scholarship funds based on the amount collected.

On-site Recycling

Alkaline Batteries
AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt ONLY
NO rechargeable; NO lead-acid

Textiles
Unusable condition

Eyeglasses
Prescription and reading glasses, sunglasses
Plastic and metal frames; cases

Oral Care Products
Collected by Girl Scout Cadette Troop 11953
Used toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes, and floss containers

On-site Secure Document Shredding

Boxed or bagged personal documents
Residential only
Donate 5 cans of food or $5 per box to benefit Interfaith Food Pantry

 Shop

Receive an exclusive reusable tote to shop the market and say goodbye to single-use plastic bags. Remember to return your used plastic bags, wrap and film to the grocery store to be recycled – never put them in your curbside recycle cart. Purchase treasures made from recycled or sustainable materials at the award-winning Buy Recycled Boutique hosted by The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N and discover artwork created by local artists using up-cycled materials.

Reimagine

Rethink waste when you contribute to a plastic cap collage with The Woodlands Children’s Museum or create a “coollage” with eco-impressionist, Grant Manier. Join forces with the Super Recyclers, The Woodlands’ Recycling Squad, to fight contamination or stage a super selfie with the Polymer Princess and Canned Crusader.

Volunteer

Sign up to volunteer at 3R Bazaar. Volunteers make a significant contribution to Township events. Consider being part of the 3R Bazaar volunteer team.

The 3R Bazaar is a free event brought to you by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department with sponsorship from Waste Management, Gullo Dealerships, The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA), Southern Shred, and The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N.

For more information or inquiries about being involved in next year’s event, please visit the 3R Bazaar page on the Township website or call 281-210-3800.

Kick the Plastic Habit this July

Plastic-Free July (1).jpg

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!

ReusableBanner

Top five ways to reduce plastic in your daily life:

  1. 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.
  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, especially plastic ones. If you must use a straw, try a reusable one made of stainless steel or bamboo.

Explore more easy tips here! Going plastic-free in July is simple; take The Woodlands Plastic Free Pledge and let us know how YOU will break your disposable habit!

At home and on the go, when you can’t reduce, remember to recycle! Need more information? Call the Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800.

World Ocean Day: Pledge to use less plastic

Copy of How will you celebrate

Summer is sizzling and has some of us grabbing our gear for a weekend beach trip! Many feel a natural connection to the ocean as it covers 70% of our planet, houses fascinating marine life, and connects us all.

June 8th is World Ocean Day reminding us to celebrate the many wonders of our aquatic frontier.

This year’s focus is a call to action on plastic pollution. You may have seen the unsettling images of sea life fatalities; our plastics are reaching new shores that have never seen pollution before.  Now is the time to address the issue before we create a world of plastic beaches.

bottles-cropped

Plastics are synthetic organic polymers created with petroleum. They are so long lasting that all the plastic that has ever been created still exists today, yet industries create more every day. Most marine plastics originate on land as litter. 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 helps the ocean and the life within.

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today“

Abraham Lincoln

 

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

Here’s how we can start making a difference:

  1. Coordinate your own cleanup
    • Bring a bucket for treasures and a bucket for trash – recycle what you can
    • Leave no trace – leave only footprints behind
  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 packaging when grocery shopping
    • Reuse as much as you canbring your own bags or bottles
    • Recycle right – stay up to date on your local municipality’s recycling guidelines
    • Refuse single use plastics such as straws, bags and cutlery