Tag Archives: Recycling

Make Your Halloween Green

It’s that time of year again. Halloween brings joy to us all as an excuse to get together with friends and family and have a little fun. The holiday is not known for being especially “green” however. This year, let’s make it different.

Here are a few tips on how we can each make Halloween a little less scary for the environment:

1. Walk when trick-or-treating

  • There seems to be an increasing amount of families commuting to different neighborhoods to go trick-or-treating these days. I’ve even seen parents drive from house to house to avoid having to get out of the car while keeping an eye on the kids. The idling of vehicles emits a large amount of CO2 through exhaust fumes. Avoid this by staying local and leaving the car at home.

2. Give out environmentally friendly treats

  • We all know halloween candy isn’t all that environmentally sound. This year try giving out treats that won’t create as big of an impact. YummyEarth does a range of organic lollipops that are bound to keep the kids happy. Choosing chocolate wrapped in foil is also a great idea as it reduces the amount of plastic use and manufacturing required.

3. Compost your scraps

  • Pumpkin is full of nutrients so instead of letting your Jack-o-lantern rot on your front door step, add it to a composting pile. Mixing the pumpkin in with autumn leaves and other food scraps will create a concoction your garden will love.

4. Keep the neighborhood clean

  • While trick-or-treating, encourage your children to keep all opened candy wrappers in a reusable bag. This will reduce the amount of trash on the streets that could fly away and end up in environmentally sensitive areas.

5. Gather treats in reusable bags

  • Probably the most obvious of idea on the list. Give your children reusable buckets or bags to stow their candy in. Pillow cases work great for this as well!

There are many ways we can all make a difference this Halloween. Be part of the movement!

Helpful links:

Natural Candy Store


How To Compost


Wanna be Waste Free? Reycling is for You and Me!

The city of Austin has many nicknames. It is known as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” “Silicon Hills,” and various others. We should aim to add “Zero Waste City” to its list of nicknames.

On December 15, 2011 the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan establishing a goal to reach Zero Waste by 2040. This means keeping at least 90% of discarded materials out of the landfill. This goal is certainly possible due to the fact that 90% of discarded materials are either reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

Landfills are one of the largest sources of Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane is 21 to 75 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide, therefore if we can reduce our landfills we will also reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses.

The City of Austin has already implemented various actions to become waste free and has created many ways to make recycling and waste disposal more accessible, easier, and more efficient for residents and businesses. The city is doing its part, now every person just needs to do theirs in order to achieve this goal.

As a resident, you can do your part by being resourceful. Use reusable bags and bottles, conserve energy, compost and above all, recycle: it is very important and easy to do. 

When you open your electricity and water accounts with the city of Austin, you automatically receive recycling service. The city comes and picks up recycling at the same time as it picks up your trash. In addition, the city does single-stream recycling, meaning you don’t have to separate your recycling. This minimizes confusion. (Although most plastics, glass, aluminum, paper, and metal items are recyclable, there are a few exceptions.)

With this service, all you have to do is recycle your items and the city will pick up and sort your recycling. Pickup is every two weeks. In addition, the city performs bi-annually brush and bulk item collections, has household hazardous waste disposal centers, and various other resources.

Recycling is a simple task we can all do that will not only help our landfills but will help our environment as a whole. With a Zero Waste goal at hand, let’s make Austin one of the first cities to become waste free and try our best to achieve this goal.

– Lauren Fedele, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern

BlueGreen Coaltion Calls for More Recycling Jobs in Houston

Houston could have thousands more jobs by increasing recycling initiatives, according to the report “More Jobs, Less Pollution,” released Nov. 15 from a collaboration of six sources, including the BlueGreen Alliance, Recycling Works! and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In honor of National Recycling Day on November 15th, a diverse coaltion of community residents, union members, and environmental advocates gathered at the steps of City Hall in Houston to highlight discussions about the city’s efforts to extend a recycling contract with Waste Management Inc.

Part of the Brighter Future Houston campaign, members of SEIU Local 1, HOPE, the Houston city employees union ,Texas Campaign for the Environment, the Sierra Club, Good Jobs Great Houston, the Texas Organizing Project and the Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance are continuing to make recycling and jobs a priority for Houston.

According to the report, if Americans were to recycle 75 percent of their waste, recycling efforts could create 1.5 million jobs across the country by 2030. About 45,000 of these jobs would be in collecting and processing the waste materials in Texas. The remanufacturing of recycled materials can create thousands of additional jobs.

“Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, a leader in economic and developmental growth, the energy capitol of the world, there is no reason for Houston to be a laggard when it comes to recycling,” said Tyson Sowell, Program Director – Houston, Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE). “Houston can be a leader in good, green job growth. We challenge the city, working with stakeholders, to create a comprehensive waste management plan with a goal of at least 90% waste diversion from landfills by 2030. Houstonians have a right to recycle and we need to create good jobs.”

Currently, the majority of Houstonians do not have access to single-stream recycling and the city has not created a plan to expand recycling. Additionally, neighborhoods with recycling are a patchwork with one neighborhood having recycling while just a block or two away, another neighborhood does not.

“Half of my neighborhood has access to recycling services while the other half doesn’t, even after we requested it,” said Veronica Ortega, a Southeast Houston resident. “We all have the same rights to have access to this service since we all pay taxes.”

Right now, the city is negotiating a recycling contract. Based on the Request for Proposal that the city released, there is no requirement for the potential contractor to expand recycling or create jobs.

“If you care about jobs, if you care about the environment, and you care about Houston, then you should be for having the city do a lot more recycling, and hiring Houston workers to do it,” said Tommie Toran, Acres Homes resident. “We need recycling in our neighborhoods, we are throwing away valuable jobs by putting recycling in our landfills.”

“The city can benefit by expanding the recycling program citywide,” said Isaiah Monroe, Jr, a resident of Meyerland and a leader of HOPE, the city employees union. “We can create more jobs.”

A 90% reyccling rate will not only create jobs but will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as CO2 from the extraction of virgin materials and methane from landfills. This is equivalent to removing 50 million cars from our roads.

“Recycling conserves natural resources, cuts global warming pollution, and saves water and energy,” said Frank Blake, Executive Committee Member, Houston Group of the Sierra Club. “This new report shows that not only is recycling good for the environment, it’s good for the economy. By expanding recycling, we can create jobs and help protect the environment at the same time.”

Link to the report:

Dave Cortez
Texas BlueGreen Apollo Alliance
512-736-7600 (cell)
512-477-6195 (office)
Check out our 21st century jobs plan: The Texas BlueGreen Apollo Program

Stop the Plastics

From our friends at Surfrider, originally posted here.

Don’t Limit Local Rule on Plastics

Texas Senate Bill 908 and House Bill 1913 aims to increase plastic bag recycling while taking away local cities rights. Thinking the recycling can solve the issues with plastic grocery bags is a myth. Recycling has its place – however, it’s not the solution to the plastic bag problem.

Various sources estimate that the recycling rate is somewhere between 1% on the low end and 9% on the high end. Either way, it’s quite low. “In addition, economics of recycling plastic bags are not appealing. From the process of sorting, to the contamination of inks and the overall low quality of the plastic used in plastics bags…it costs $4,000 to process and recycle 1 ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for $32 Furthermore many bags collected for recycling never get recycled. A growing trend is to ship them to countries like India and China, which are rapidly becoming the dumping grounds for the Western world’s glut of recyclables. Rather than being recycled they are cheaply incinerated under more lax environmental laws. Even if recycling rates of plastic bags increase dramatically, it doesn’t solve other significant problems, such as the use of non-renewable resources and toxic chemicals in their original production…What to do? Choose to reuse!”

The most disturbing aspect is the impact on cities rights to enact local ordinances. “State Sen. Kel Seliger was the lone ‘no’ vote on the Natural Resources committee. The conservative Republican Senator from Amarillo … says that he opposes the bill because it handcuffs local governments. “My objection to the bill, it pre-empts cities from passing ordinances, should they decide, for whatever reason, that it’s something that’s good for the city, for livability, for waste, or something like that,” Seliger told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Please send a letter Today! Tell your legislators not to limit local control!

Click here to find out who represents you.

Seriously West Campus?!

Guest post by all-star Sierra Club intern, Sydney Hayden.

As a student at one of the largest universities in one of the MOST LIBERAL cities in the country, one would reasonably expect there to be a fully established, functional and organized recycling program in all student populated areas. When I came to UT I was shocked to discover how many people just threw away EVERYTHING. No sorting and no recycling. Talk about keeping Austin Green!  I thought these students were being irresponsible and lazy.  But then I realized, they don’t really have a choice.

If UT cares does West Campus care?

Last year, I lived at a large apartment complex in the heart of West Campus, aka “Student Central.”  I noticed that they advertised themselves as being a “green” complex because they offered recycling to residents.  So I decided I would take full advantage of that, because I was sick of lugging seven bags full of my roommates’ and my recyclables to my mom’s house every week.  I searched and searched for these so called “recycling bins” for quite a while until I decided to just give up and ask the leasing office where the heck they were.  They directed me to the dumpster area in the alley behind the complex.  There it was! Not there they were, because there was only one, single bin. And to top things off, it wasn’t even one of those large blue bins like regular houses have. It was a tiny rectangular bin that said “newspaper only.”  Too bad I read the New York Times online.

On a similar note, I recently contacted another popular student apartment complex to ask about their recycling program.  Here is what they said:

“We do have recycling bins at each of our locations outside near each dumpster. I admire your concern, as recycling is very important! :)”

Well that’s great! The only problem is, one or two bins for an entire complex isn’t going to cut it.  Not to mention, the areas where the dumpsters are located are seriously smelly and creepy.  Nobody wants to go take a stroll down the dark alleyway to recycle his or her newspapers.  Nice try, West Campus.

I know it may seem a little ambitious, but would it really be so hard to put a single one of those small recycling bins in each apartment unit? Think of how much LESS trash there would be for the complex to pick up each week. Or, if that’s too hard for the city of Austin, maybe they could at least put a few LARGE recycling bins near where people bring their trash bags.  Spectacularly simple? I think so.

Is this too much to ask for?

I’d like to end things off with a quotation I saw on the back of disposable fans some organization was giving away at the downtown Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago.

It said: “RECYCLE. Seriously… it’s not that hard.”

I’m sick of having to bring all my recyclables to my mom’s. I mean I love my mom, but seriously West Campus, it’s not that hard.