Do good. Feel good: a guide to community service while social distancing

If you are looking for a relaxing activity to make a positive impact on your community while practicing the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing, consider cleaning up litter along your regular walking route, local green belts and your neighborhood.

All litter, big and small, is not only unsightly, it has serious environmental consequences, that can be easily prevented. It is important to dispose of waste properly, educate or report those seen littering and start the habit of picking it up when you see it.

Negative effects of litter:

1. Decreases community aesthetic, reducing property values.

2. Causes soil, water and air pollution. Chemicals can leach from litter, polluting nearby soil and water bodies. If the littered area is burned, it can release toxic particulate matter.

3. Creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It only takes 1 plastic bottle cap full of water for mosquitoes to reproduce.

4. Causes fire hazards.

5. Harms wildlife. Small pieces of litter are often ingested by aquatic and land animals and fishing line or other tanglers can trap them. This can lead to death or severe injury.

Cleanup Tips:

If you’ve been racking up a collection of plastic bags, reuse them for litter bags! Remember to take clean plastic bags and film back to the grocery store for recycling. They cannot be recycled in your curbside cart.

Dispose of collected litter in a pathway receptacle or your curbside cart. Please use care not to overstuff trash bins on pathways. Overstuffed trash cans lead to more litter.

Want to burn some calories while you’re at it? Try “plogging,” the act of picking up litter while you are jogging!

Safety Tips:

  • Use reusable work gloves to save disposable ones. Wash them after use.
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands. ·
  • Watch out for poisonous plants. Leaves of three, leave it be!
  • Use care around wildlife and observe them from afar. Use a stick to disturb grass before walking through.
  • Wear long sleeved, light colored clothing and close toed shoes.
  • Bring a hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellant and a water bottle.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Do not go into streets or busy vehicle areas.

Look down for litter, look up for other hidden treasures in the community!

While you are out enjoying a relaxing walk through the neighborhood, take advantage of being surrounded by nature in spring and consider the following social distancing approved activities:

Photography – Take a moment to share your photos with your family, friends, your community through social media and us! Many people are unable to leave the house during this time. Your photos can help them get a healthy dose of nature to brighten their day.

iNaturalist – Become a Citizen Scientist! Observe locally and identify globally by snapping pictures of local flora and fauna in The Woodlands. Download the app, snap a picture, receive help identifying species and contribute to global research.

Birding – Here is a resource from Texas Parks & Wildlife to get you started. Grocery stores often have laminated guides in the checkout lines.

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

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

Residents Recycled MORE at 3R Bazaar

On Saturday, November 9, more than 800 residents enjoyed shopping local artists, free recycling, document shredding and learning about recycling at the 9th Annual 3R Bazaar! 3R Bazaar is a once a year recycling event with local resources available to educate on a number of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle as well as on-site recycling opportunities. Residents saved 13,817 lbs of material from the landfill by bringing hard to recycle items for free recycling. $1,485 and 850lbs of canned food items were collected from the document shredding service and donated to Interfaith of The Woodlands Food Pantry.

The 2019 Recycling Village Challenge item was batteries. The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. will award scholarship funds to villages based on the amount of batteries they collected.

Save the date for the next 3R Bazaar on Saturday, November 14, 2020 and watch for the new Recycling Village Challenge item, to be announced in January. Batteries will not count towards the 2020 Village Challenge but will be accepted along with eyeglasses, textiles, oral care products and documents for shredding. In the meantime, batteries can be recycled at Precinct 3 Recycling Facility, Batteries Plus Bulbs, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s or a Walmart Super Center.

Residents are encouraged to think beyond the curbside cart and take advantage of the wide variety of local recycling opportunities. A complete list of participating locations and the items they accept can be found here.

For more information about recycling, please visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/recycling or contact the Township Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800. The 3R Bazaar is a free program of The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department with sponsorship from Waste Management, Southern Shred, Gullo Dealerships, Woodlands Water and The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N.

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

Recycle beyond the curb at 3R Bazaar

Reduce, reuse, recycle and re-imagine waste at the annual 3R Bazaar! Bring select items for recycling, shop the market for crafts featuring recycled materials, and discover new opportunities to recycle beyond the curb. It all happens on November 9 at The Woodlands Farmers Market at Grogan’s Mill 8 a.m. to noon.

Reduce

Americans make up roughly 5% of the world’s population but generate nearly 40% of the world’s total waste. Learn tips and tricks to reduce waste on the go and at home.

Reuse

The U.S. produces 4.6 million lbs. of wrapping paper each year. Half of it is sent to landfills. Many wrapping papers are foiled which means they cannot be recycled. Visit the Reuse Workshop and learn how to create eco-friendly gift boxes and bags from newspaper and vinyl record sleeves. They can even be reused or recycled after the holiday!

Recycle

Bring select, hard-to-recycle items for free recycling and learn about year-round collection opportunities.  Participate in the 2019 Village Challenge! Earn scholarship funds for your village by bringing Alkaline AA, AAA, C, D, 9V batteries for recycling.

Free Recycling

  • Alkaline Batteries
    • AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt
    • Residential only, no businesses
  • Textiles
    • Clothing in unusable condition
  • Eyeglasses
  • Oral Care Products
    • Collected by Girl Scout Cadette Troop 11953
    • Used toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes, and floss containers

3R Bazaar is hosted by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services with sponsorship from Waste Management, Woodlands Water, Southern Shred and The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. For more information, please visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/3rbazaar or contact the Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800.



Secure Document Shredding by Southern Shred

  • Boxed or bagged personal documents
  • Residential Only
  • 5 cans of food or $5 per box benefits Interfaith Food Pantry
  • No limit

3R Bazaar: Battery Recycling

Recycle batteries and earn scholarship funds for your village

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. They keep things going in our hospitals and military operations; and at home in our electronics and children’s toys.

Did you know? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each year, Americans throw away more than 86,000 tons of single-use alkaline batteries.  Batteries make up about 20% of all household hazardous materials in America’s landfills.

Batteries contain two common elements that combine to create power: an electrolyte and a heavy metal such as mercury, lead, cadmium, or nickel. As batteries break down in landfills, they leach mercury and other toxins. These pollutants can eventually make their way into the surrounding water table.

In an effort to reduce hazardous waste, 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 its new location The Woodlands Farmer’s Market.

Recycling batteries saves resources and keeps heavy metals out of landfills and water.

Keep in mind: Rechargeable batteries may cost more up front, 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.

If your stash of used batteries runneth over, or if you’ve just started your collection, support your village by bringing Alkaline AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V Batteries to the 3R Bazaar for the Village Recycling Challenge. The village that collects the most will receive a donation to its scholarship fund from The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N.

Can’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. 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.

For more information, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/3rbazaar