3R Bazaar: Light Bulb Recycling

Recycle Light Bulbs; earn scholarship funds for your village!

If you feel in the dark about light bulb disposal, here’s a bright idea: recycle used light bulbs to earn scholarship money! The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has selected Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and LED light bulbs for the annual Village Recycling Challenge held at the 3R Recycling Drive-thru on Saturday, November 13, 2021 from 9 a.m. to noon in The Woodlands High School’s parking lot. Light bulbs must be intact, not broken. Batteries and other listed items will also be accepted. This event is for residents only, no businesses. 

This year’s Recycling Village Challenge shines a light on the importance of responsible waste disposal. Recycling light bulbs saves material that can be reused, reduces landfill space, and keeps hazardous chemicals out of our environment. Although they are made of glass, metal and plastic, light bulbs cannot be recycled in your curbside cart 

How are light bulbs recycled?

Light bulbs are put through a machine, called a tumbler, which crushes and separates the primary components: glass, metal, plastic, mercury and phosphor. These materials are then stored for manufacturing into new items.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) contain a small amount of mercury gas. If CFLs are disposed of in a trash can or landfill, the glass can crack and release mercury into the environment. Chemicals from CFLs and other hazardous waste, such as batteries that end up in the landfill, can leach into the surrounding water table, endangering human health and the environment. CFLs and other household hazardous waste should always be treated with care and safely disposed of through special collections. If you are saving CFL bulbs for recycling, please store them in a safe place such as their original box to avoid damage. 

Want to save money, energy and even water? 

LED light bulbs use 80% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, saving energy, money and even water. They also pose almost no fire risk because they emit less heat than other bulbs. LED lightbulbs may cost more up front, but they’ll save you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the years because of efficiency and long life span.  

Join us for free recycling of select items and support your village by bringing Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and LED light bulbs to the 3R Recycling Drive-thru for the Village Recycling Challenge. The village that collects the most will receive a donation, from The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N., to its scholarship fund.

Can’t make it to 3R Recycling Drive-thru?  

That’s ok! The Montgomery County Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring), Home Depot, Lowes, Batteries Plus and Best Buy accept different types of light bulbs all year. For a comprehensive list of local recycling opportunities of other oddities such as electronics, batteries, paints, pharmaceuticals, and more check out the Recycle More Guide.  

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

Recycling Dilemma #1004 – To bag or not to bag

Free your recyclables!

Free your recyclables blog post

To bag or not to bag your recyclables? The answer is simple. Leave them loose! Plastic bags, film and flexible packaging are not accepted in our curbside carts. In fact, they’re the number one contaminant of our curbside recycling. If residents stopped bagging their recyclables our community would cut contamination by 50%. The value of recyclables is directly tied to how clean, or uncontaminated, they are. The success of the recycling industry is dependent on finding buyers for clean, quality recyclable materials.

Why aren’t bags allowed in our program?

In The Woodlands, we enjoy the convenience of a single stream recycling program in which all acceptable materials are deposited in one cart. However, the recyclables – plastic containers and bottles #1-5, cartons (think juice or soup), cardboard, paper, aluminum cans and glass containers – must be sorted once they reach the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

During the initial stages of sorting, loose plastic bags and film are separated from the rest of the materials by hand. This takes a great deal of effort, and much of it slips by, wrapping around machinery and damaging equipment further down the line. MRFs have to shut down the processing line several times a day to remove plastic film entangled in the machines. This takes up valuable time and increases costs. It also creates unsafe working conditions for the individuals that must crawl into the machines to remove the film. Check out the video below to see the effects of plastic bags on MRF equipment.

The problem with bagging recyclables

When we bag our recyclables we cause a different problem – workers at the MRF can’t tell if the material inside is trash or recycling – and so the entire bag is often sent to the landfill and all those good recyclables go to waste.

Although plastic bags and films do not belong in our curbside carts they are recyclable and quite valuable. So gather up all forms of plastic film in your house and take it your local grocery store – almost every store has a receptacle at the front. The bags and film are bailed, sold and eventually turned into composite lumber for making decks, benches, and playground sets. Plastic film can also be reprocessed into small pellets, which are turned into new bags, pallets, containers, crates, and pipe.

So let loose and free those recyclables!

Check out our website for more information about recycling and curbside services in The Woodlands.

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