Green Resolutions for the New Year 2021

By Anna Dunbar

2020 is drawing to a close. Whew! What a year. Time to start thinking about a new year, a new start, and new resolutions for a greener year!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Recycle that live Christmas Tree! Keep Waco Beautiful is hosting its annual “Chipping of the Green” Christmas tree recycling event on January 9th at Paul Tyson Field from 10-3pm. Bring your tree and watch how Waco Parks and Recreation mulches the tree.
  1. Live Christmas trees can also be left at residential curbside during green weeks in January for collection and mulching. Green weeks in January are the 4th-8th and 19th-22nd.
  1. Start recycling at curbside! Waco residents with cart residential trash service can request one or two blue recycling and/or green yard waste carts for no extra charge! Complete a request form on Waco-texas.com or our smartphone app Waco Curbside Services. You can also call (254) 299-2612.
  1. Recycle right! Please do not put Styrofoam, glass, plastic bags, plastics 3-7, or take-out food containers in your blue cart! Got questions? Check out the free smartphone app Waco Curbside Services.
  1. Speaking of Styrofoam, on December 12 there will be a Styrofoam recycling drop-off event by Waco Friends of Climate.

TIME: 9 AM until 1 PM

LOCATION:  parking lot in front of Ocean Buffet, at the corner of Valley Mills and Waco Drives. 

NOTES: Please wear masks and stay in your vehicle; volunteers will remove the material from trunk and back seats.  Styrofoam cups and food containers are accepted, as well as larger blocks and molded pieces. Peanuts cannot be accepted.  Please clean the Styrofoam and place small pieces in a bag.  Please arrive early, as our truck may reach capacity. The service is free. Questions:  [email protected] .    

  1. Go to the Cobbs Center! Many people have a lot of extra recycling during the holidays. Boxes, glass or plastic bottles and aluminum cans abound during the holidays! Waco residents can also recycle big items (such as electronics and appliances) at the Cobbs Recycle Center. The Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 AM until 5 PM and closed on Sunday and Monday. Go to waco-texas.com or call (254) 751-8536 to ask questions.
  1. Remember “Only Rain Down the Drain!” Please avoid putting anything (leaves, grass clippings, litter) into storm drains.
  1. Properly dispose of cooking oil! Small quantities of cooking oil can be mixed with kitty litter, doubled bagged, and placed in your trash cart. Please do not pour cooking oil or grease down the drain. You can also properly dispose of the cooking oil or grease at 5 stations located around the city; one location is at the Cobbs Center. For more information go to Waco-texas.com or call 299-CITY (2489) between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  1. Join the Litter Challenge!  If each person picks up and throws away just one piece of litter a day, they will have put 45 pounds of litter in its place by the end of the year.
  1. Check the solid waste calendar! Don’t forget the blue carts and green carts go at the curb on alternating weeks, never together! If you have questions, call (254) 299-2612.
  1. Take gently used items to resale or thrift stores instead of just throwing them away. Or, have a garage sale! Don’t forget to get a city permit!
  1. Finally, get involved in organizations that “do good” in our city! The wonderful organizations, clean litter, collect donations, recycle and more! Together we can do more!

Anna Dunbar is the solid waste administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a Baylor University alum who works at Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. Anna is an active member of Keep Waco Beautiful and The Central Texas Audubon Society.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

America Recycles Day and Scrap Tire Collection

by Anna Dunbar

America Recycles Day (ARD) has its 23rd  anniversary this year. What many don’t know is that ARD has its roots in Texas, central Texas in fact. Texas Recycles Day began in 1994 as the idea of two Texas Commission on Environmental Quality employees, Kevin Tuerff and Valerie Davis. I had met them while I was at the agency and was always so impressed with their creativity. They came up with Texas Recycles Day to promote recycling on a day far enough away from Earth Day (April 22nd), but not before the Election Day in order  to capture everyone’s attention. Thus November 15th was chosen as America Recycles Day!

Eventually, Texas Recycles Day was transformed into America Recycles Day. The first national America Recycles Day was held November 15th, 1997 and it has been celebrated annually ever since.

What about America Recycles Day in Waco? There is a lot of energy behind recycling in Waco. This year, the Waco Solid Waste Services is conducting a Scrap Tire Collection on Saturday, November 14. Here are the details:

  • Location: 501 Schroeder Drive, near the Baylor Water Tower
  • Hours: 7 AM until 12 Noon
  • This event is for Waco residents only. Please pre-register or bring your Waco water utility bill as proof of residency.
  • Restrictions:
    • No more than 10 tires
    • No tires from businesses 
    • No OTR, Skid Steer, Earth Movers
    • Maximum size: 24 inches
    • Maximum ten (10) tires per household
    • Please preregister by calling (254) 299-2612

You might wonder why Waco Solid Waste Services is having a scrap tire collection at no extra charge. There are several reasons. First, recycling of scrap tires usually carries a fee per tire. The fee is waived during this event, making it easier for Wacoans to recycle their tires. Second, scrap tires are a breeding place for mosquitoes, which can carry diseases. Finally, scrap tires are prone to being dumped on vacant lots and other locations. This free collection is a good time to rid your property of scrap tires and recycle at the same time!

Waco Solid Waste Services encourages everyone to pre-register for this event and to wear a mask while talking with staff during the event. Pre-registration can be done by calling (254) 299-2612 Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 5 PM.  Para informacion en Espanol: (254) 299-2612.   There will also be a registration form at Waco-texas.com beginning November 5.

Thank you for keeping Waco Clean and Green!


Anna Dunbar is the solid waste administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a Baylor University alum who works at Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. Anna is an active member of Keep Waco Beautiful and The Central Texas Audubon Society.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

Earth Month Part 4: Paint!

April is Earth Month!  To help us get in the spirit of sustainability, Anna Dunbar, Recycling and Public Outreach Administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services, shares some tips, expertise and hopes for our community in a series of four blog posts.  For all the posts so far, click here.  Thanks for writing, Anna! – ABT

By Anna Dunbar

Painting is a relatively inexpensive way to update a room. It seems that every DIY show starts with picking colors and repainting (or doing a faux finish painted walls). Then, the question is, what to do with all of the leftover paint?

Storage

Most people think of the garage as the place to store paints. The problem with that idea is that paints typically become unusable when exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures. This is especially true of latex paint. So, store your paint in the house or in an insulated cabinet in the garage. To seal the can, place plastic wrap over the paint lid and hammer it down. Some recommend storing the can upside down but I personally have not had the nerve to do that!

Think before you toss and try to donate it.

In Waco, try the Habitat for Humanity ReStore if you have unopened, usable latex paint with readable labels. Learn more at http://www.wacohabitat.org/restore/ or call (254) 756-0131. Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great place and if you are doing a painting job you should start there! The store usually has  a great paint selection.

Schools, religious groups, community groups, and theater groups may accept unopened cans of latex paint, especially white paint. Even a neighbor may need some extra paint.  Remember, if your paint is lumpy or smells bad, it should not be donated.

Dry it out before you throw it away.
When you cannot use up or donate leftover paint, dry it out and dispose of it with your regular trash. All residual/leftover paint must be hardened or dried before putting in your trash.

If there’s only a small amount of paint in the bottom of the can, leaving it out in the sun should do the trick. If there’s a bit more, mulch, kitty litter, or shredded newspaper can be used as a bulking/drying agent. If you are in a hurry, buy some commercial paint hardener such as Waste Paint HardenerTM or a similar product to dry paint quickly. This product is available at many paint and hardware stores. When mixed with paint as directed, it will dry even large amounts within a couple of days. A paint can with totally dried paint (no liquid) can be put in a bag with your regular trash.

Take larger quantities of paint to Household Hazardous Waste Day.

As I mentioned last week, if you are a resident of Waco, Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, Lorena or Woodway, you can save paints, auto fluids and other hazardous stuff for Household Hazardous Waste Day on May 6. The event is from 7 AM until 1:30 PM at 501 Schroeder Drive, which is the Waco Solid Waste Operations Center.  It is near the Baylor elevated water storage tank. When you arrive you may need to wait in line. Have your water bill from your city of residence and your driver’s license at the ready. You will need that for proof of residency.

Paint makes up most of what is brought to Household Hazardous Waste Day! In 2015, we collected 85,387 pounds of paint and in 2016, we collected 31,285 pounds of paint. I am grateful that so many people are willing to do the right thing and dispose of paint properly. Still have questions? Please call Waco Solid Waste Services at (254) 299-2612 or email me at [email protected]


This week’s Act Locally Waco blog post is by Anna Dunbar. Anna is the Operations Administrator for the City of Waco Public Works. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a graduate student at Baylor University. She is president of the board of Keep Waco Beautiful and is a member of The Central Texas Audubon Society and Northwest Waco Rotary. If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected] 

Earth Month Part 3: Celebrating Earth Day in Wacotown

April is Earth Month!  To help us get in the spirit of sustainability, Anna Dunbar, Recycling and Public Outreach Administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services, shares some tips, expertise and hopes for our community in a series of four blog posts.  For all the posts so far, click hereThanks for writing, Anna! – ABT)

By Anna Dunbar

In 1962 a marine biologist named Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring. The title referred to a world without birds due to toxic pesticides then commonly used in America (primarily DDT). I first read the book in college in the mid late 70’s. It was a time of great change – by 1972, a phase-out of DDT use in the United States had begun and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was in its infancy.

Origin of Earth Day

Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin, a longtime conservationist, was the one who decided to have an environmental celebration in the spring of 1970. After his announcement, the energy started spreading across the US (without social media!) and ten thousand grade schools and high schools, two thousand colleges, and one thousand communities were involved in that thing that became “Earth Day.”

Over the decades, the spirit of Earth Day has risen, fallen, and risen again. There was an effort to raise public awareness about falling whale populations and dangerous nuclear power. In the US, we began to separate our household trash from recyclables in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Many companies like Coca Cola, M&M Mars, and Allergan in Waco have adopted zero waste or waste reduction goal and green business practices. Schools and churches have jumped in with efforts to send less waste to the landfill.

Earth Day Today

Earth Day this year is April 22. Today, Earth Day around the US is about learning experiences and activities  to make the natural world around us better.  Some cities have clean-up events, nature hikes, environmental awareness celebrations and even entertainment.

Here is what you can do to celebrate Earth Day in Waco :

April 20 – Mayborn Museum Science Thursdays – Smoke, Smog and City Life presentation by Dr. Rebecca Sheesley of the Environmental Science Department at Baylor University. The presentation is on Thursday, April 20 from 7 PM until 8 PM at the Mayborn Museum Complex, 1300 S. University Parks Drive; Coffee and cookies at 6:30 p.m.at the museum.  Everyone is invited and admission is free; does not include admission to the museum.

April 22 – Cameron Park Zoo Party for the Planet and Bear Awareness Day – Keeper Talks, Bear Activities, and activities throughout the Zoo on Saturday, April 22.

April 22 – National Jr. Ranger Day at the Waco Mammoth National Monument  – There will be fun activities with Park Rangers at this awesome park.  Come learn about Waco summer camps, recycling, litter prevention, and more. Children 12 and under tour for free this day only.

April 22 – BUZZ OFF 2017 at the Downtown Waco Farmer’s Market on Saturday, April 22, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The farmer’s market will be at the new location 510 Washington Ave. (across from McLennan Co. Courthouse) Stop by and learn how you can avoid mosquitoes. FOR MORE INFO: 254-744-4156, [email protected].

April 23 – Cameron Park Zoo “Join the Pride”  – This is an event hosted by the Mayor’s Committee for people with disabilities celebrating differences. There will be Keeper talks and a resource fair.

April 29 – National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day  – On Saturday, April 29, take this great opportunity to get rid of unwanted and expired drugs in a safe and secure manner.

If you cannot attend an Earth Day event in Waco, never fear! Remember, you can make every day Earth Day!


This week’s Act Locally Waco blog post is by Anna Dunbar. Anna is the Operations Administrator for the City of Waco Public Works. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a graduate student at Baylor University. She is president of the board of Keep Waco Beautiful and is a member of The Central Texas Audubon Society and Northwest Waco Rotary. If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected] .  

Earth Month 2017 Part 2: Litter is Ugly!

(April is Earth Month!  To help us get in the spirit of sustainability, Anna Dunbar, Recycling and Public Outreach Administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services, shares some tips, expertise and hopes for our community in a series of four blog posts.  For all the posts so far, click hereThanks for writing, Anna! – ABT)

By Anna Dunbar

First, let me start off by saying, we have all seen litter. If you live in the city, you may see it every day. But, just because we see litter around us, does not mean it is OK. It saddens me that we have come to accept litter as a part of our everyday life.

Litter is ugly

That statement is how I begin talking to kids about litter.  All kids know that litter makes a place ugly. Social scientists tell us that people litter in an already littered environment, and they refrain from littering in a pristine environment. Littering happens when plastic bags, cans and broken glass inform us that this is a place where the normative — usual, expected — practice is to litter. We need to change this thought and make everyone who lives, works and visits Waco realize that dropping trash on the ground is not OK. We all need to feel like we would be socially out of step if we littered.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Keep America Beautiful’s 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study identifies individuals as the primary source of litter. Motorists and pedestrians are littering on roads and highways, in downtown business districts, recreational areas, and beaches. Frequently, even areas that have convenient trash containers are littered.  In the clean-up events, litter along streets and in parking areas seems to be associated with fast food, convenience food, and cigarettes, as well as the occasional diaper (ugh!).  Much of litter is small – gum wrappers, receipts, straws, cigarette butts, and fruit peels.  Remember, even stuff you may think is OK (a banana peel) is still waste out of place. The Pogo strip, which became an Earth Day Poster, had a big impact on me as a high school student experiencing my first Earth Day in the early-70’s.  I remember cleaning the school grounds and even cleaning the school’s windows. Unfortunately, Pogo’s words still ring true.

Litter and Its Impact on Our Water

According to the Keep America Beautiful study, storm drains are one of the most littered areas.  Cigarette butts, wrappers, and other litter accumulate in or around storm drains, located primarily in gutters and designed to drain rain from streets, parking lots, and other paved surfaces.  The storm water, which runs off during and after a rain, goes into the storm drain and then through pipes, channels, drainage ways and ditches.  The stormwater carries litter from the curb with it. Sometimes I even see people blowing or dumping leaves and grass clippings into the storm drain. The problem with that is the stormwater and litter eventually reach the Brazos River or Lake Waco. None of the stormwater is treated, cleaned or filtered before it reaches our water where fish, ducks, turtles and aquatic life live.  We can all view the result of this after a rain –floating  trash. I tell kids I visit with, “remember,  only rain in the drain!” We all need to remember that!

What Can We Do?

  • Check with your local neighborhood or homeowner’s association to see when a neighborhood clean-up event will be held in your area. Every Neighborhood Association has access to three cleanup events per year at no charge. These events are usually held in conjunction with Baylor University’s Steppin’ Out program.  Even something as simple as picking up the loose trash on your street makes a big impact and is a great way to get involved with your community.
  • Keep Waco Beautiful (KWB) hosts several programs throughout the year including the Brazos River Cleanup and Neighborhood Cleanups. Participate in the Adopt-A-Spot or Adopt-A-Park program if there is a special area near your home or business that you would like to commit to clean up. Contact Keep Waco Beautiful at (254) 750-5728 or at [email protected]
  • Volunteer with clean-up, plant harvesting, and other events at our local Lake Waco Wetlands.
  • Do your own clean thing! While walking the dog or visiting a park, take a bag for doggie doo and a bag for litter too! Don’t forget that you can recycle plastic bottles that you find.
  • Find like-minded people and organize a clean-up. KWB can help with supplies for that activity. (Note:  A great example of this is the “Group W Bench Litter Patrol” organized by local anti-litter activist, Bruce Huff. – ABT)
  • Set an example! Don’t be careless with your trash and encourage those around you to do the same. Remember, if it is in the back of your pick-up it may blow out during your drive.
  • Can’t get out and help clean-up? Then be a cheerleader (no pompoms required). Applaud and encourage those you see taking charge of the trash around them. Encourage the younger family member to do the right thing.

See an amazing effort? Let KWB know. KWB is hosting its annual awards in May and wants to hear of award worthy efforts. Contact KWB at (254) 750-5728 or at [email protected].


This week’s Act Locally Waco blog post is by Anna Dunbar. Anna is the Operations  Administrator for the City of Waco Public Works. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a graduate student at Baylor University. She is president of the board of Keep Waco Beautiful and is a member of The Central Texas Audubon Society and Northwest Waco Rotary. If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected] .  

 

 

 

 

Earth Month 2017 Part 1: Spring Cleaning and Greening

(April is Earth Month!  To help us get in the spirit of sustainability, Anna Dunbar, Recycling and Public Outreach Administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services, shares some tips, expertise and hopes for our community in a series of four blog posts.  This is the first.  Thanks for writing, Anna! – ABT)

By Anna Dunbar

It’s that time of year again – time to clean out old items from those closets, cupboards, out-buildings and garages!

In your spring cleaning, you’ll likely come across old electronics – like TVs, computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, and cell phones – or liquid “stuff” like paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides that you want to get rid of. You may even find a scrap tire or two! With a little work and some planning your shelves and work spaces will be clear.  And I know everyone likes a clean garage!

First, electronics. Electronics are made from valuable resources and highly engineered materials, which could pose risks if disposed of improperly. So, what to do if you do not put them in the trash? You can call the Waco Best Buy, which accepts many electronics, even those they do not sell. There is a recycling fee for items with glass (monitors and TVs) but other items can be recycled free of charge.  Some newer items may even have a rebate!  Another option for computers is Goodwill.  The Waco Goodwill will take computers. If the computer still works, other nonprofits may accept it.  Finally, many of the Waco metal recyclers will accept electronics EXCEPT televisions and monitors (yep, the glass issue again).

Second, the goopy stuff in cans, bottles and jars.  Some stuff may not even have a readable label and may be from grandpa’s garage. Be careful with that stuff! Some household products are considered household hazardous wastes.  These are items like paint and paint products, automotive fluids (oil and antifreeze as well as gasoline) and pesticides and herbicides.   Here are some tips:

  • Paint – Use it up, dry it up or pass it on! Totally dry paint can be put in the trash. If it is not totally dry, you can use kitty litter or mulch to speed up the drying.
  • Used motor oil and antifreeze – many auto supply retailers accept these.  If you are a Waco resident, you can take motor oil and antifreeze to the Cobbs Recycling Center.
  • Please don’t pour liquid products such as those down the sink drain or down the storm drain!
  • Please resist the temptation to put these items on the curb with the rest of your trash!
  • Anyone can take scrap tires off the rim to the Waco Landfill. There is a fee of $3 or $5 depending upon the size of tire.

If you are a resident of Waco, Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, Lorena or Woodway, you can save paints, auto fluids and other hazardous stuff for Household Hazardous Waste Day on May 6 (more details later). You can even take scrap tires and batteries.   I put all of my unwanted stuff in a box (or 2 or 3 boxes) so it is ready to go come May.  Last year I had a CPU, a broken printer, some expired drugs, a few of cans of paint, a couple of “curly” bulb and a fluorescent tube and a couple of boat trailer tires all loaded into my Prius.  I safely got rid of it all in one trip.

To find out more call Waco Solid Waste Services at (254)299-2612 or go to Waco-texas.com or you can contact me at [email protected]


This week’s Act Locally Waco blog post is by Anna Dunbar. Anna is the Operations  Administrator for the City of Waco Public Works. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a graduate student at Baylor University. She is president of the board of Keep Waco Beautiful and is a member of The Central Texas Audubon Society and Northwest Waco Rotary. If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email [email protected] .  

 

 

No more bottled water for me!

by Alan D. Northcutt, Waco Friends of Peace

Like most Wacoans, I used to purchase bottled water periodically. But then I learned the truth about this product:

  • In the U.S. tap water is safe and is subject to more stringent federal regulations and inspections than bottled water.
  • About half of bottled water brands are simply municipal tap water, but cost up to 1000 times the price of tap water.
  • At a time when droughts are widespread, 3 liters of water are required to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
  • The production and transportation of one bottle of water requires energy equivalent to the oil of a one quarter filled bottle. This process added 2.5 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere in 2006.
  • 75% of water bottle plastic ends up in landfills, lakes, streams and oceans, and requires centuries to decompose.
  • The planet’s oceans are contaminated by five gigantic circulating patches of plastics and microplastics, the largest covering 500,000 square miles.
  • Because animals mistake plastic for food, annually an estimated 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die from plastic, and 2/3 of our fish stocks ingest plastic.

Since I became aware of these facts I have never purchased bottled water. We can all easily take steps to conserve precious natural resources while protecting the biosphere and its inhabitants by drinking water in reusable metal or reusable BPA-free plastic containers. I believe bottled water should be reserved for natural disasters and other emergency situations only.

AlanThis week’s blog  is by Alan D. Northcutt.  Alan has lived in Waco for 28 years. He is a physician specializing in skin pathology. He has been active in the anti-war movement since college days, and heads the Waco Friends of Peace. Alan believes the most important issue facing mankind is climate change, which has become the primary focus of Friends of Peace.   If you would be interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please contact Ashley Thornton by email at [email protected]