Trash in the time of Corona: Tips for spring cleaning

By Anna Dunbar

Please Note: The Solid Waste offices, Cobbs Recycling Center, and the landfill will be closed on Friday, April 10th.  Friday’s trash will be picked up EARLY on Wednesday, April 8.

An unexpected outcome of many folks remaining at home is an increase in need for trash services. Some folks are busily raking and bagging leaves and cleaning out their garages. I thought I’d provide a little information about how to meet the challenge of getting rid of stuff while meeting your desire to do so sustainably.

As you know, City of Waco Solid Waste Services is on the job collecting trash, recycling or yard waste at curbside. We ask that you leave those carts at the curb a little longer than usual. Due to long lines and a high number of customers being experienced at the city landfill, regular trash collection services could be delayed. Crews will be working late to catch up on curbside pick-up.

Should we miss your cart, we’ll make sure to implement an alternate pick-up day. If you’re a Monday route and we miss you, please leave your cans at the curb until Wednesday and we’ll make sure to get them.

Leaves and grass clippings should go into Paper Yard Bags purchased at grocery stores, hardware and garden stores. In Waco, please place a maximum of 20 yard waste paper bags at your curb during green weeks. There is a 40-pound limit for each yard waste bag. Paper yard bags are available at HEB, Ace Hardware, Sam’s Club, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot. You can also buy the bags on-line at many of those stores as well as Amazon.

Don’t want to venture out to the store? Another option is to use one or two green yard carts. 95-gallon green yard carts are available at no extra charge by calling the city’s solid waste customer service center (254-299-2612). The carts can be delivered to your curbside. One or two green yard carts can be set at curbside during green weeks. Yard trimmings and leaves in the green cart should not be bagged.

OK, now what about that pile of brush trimmings? One brush pile will be collected during green weeks. The pile must be no bigger than four (4) feet long and four (4) feet high and four (4) feet wide.  Limbs must be no longer than four (4) feet and no larger than three (3) inches in diameter. 

Limbs should not be tied. Logs and Tree stumps will not be collected. Companies for hire must remove residential brush from the property and haul to a registered or permitted site for disposal or composting/mulching.

So, now let’s venture inside the house or garage and tackle that “junk area”! Everyone has the stash of stuff they’ve been meaning to get to. Here are some options:

The couch you’ve been meaning to get rid of? Some Waco non-profit organizations will accept furniture, including those with cloth. Some will not so it’s best to check. If the couch is not usable, Waco households are allowed bulky waste collection at curbside once per month. One couch is about the limit (one small pick-up truckload). So, you can set it at the curb for collection as trash.  Waco residents can also self-haul the couch to the Cobbs Citizen Convenience Center or Waco Landfill with proof of residency.

The now vintage television you used to watch Mad Men on is no longer working. If you are a Waco resident you can take it to the Cobbs Citizen Convenience Center (Recycling Center) for recycling with proof of residency. The Cobbs Center is operating during this time at its usual schedule of Tuesday through Saturday from 8 AM until 5 PM. As I said, a lot of folks are cleaning up, so please be prepared for a longer wait that usual.  If you are not a Waco resident, you can check with Best Buy about recycling options.

The Waco City Council District 1 clean-up is Saturday, April 25. Curbside bulky waste and brush collection will start at 7 AM on that day. Some things to remember – please call Keep Waco Beautiful at (254) 339-1077 in advance to register to participate in this district clean-up. You must live in City Council District 1. Then, move your unwanted items to the curb just prior to April 25 and it will get collected on that day. Some items to avoid – tires, concrete, dirt, liquids, and household hazardous waste such as paint.

Want to get out of your house and practice social distancing? WALK YOUR BLOCK! Grab a bag and some gloves and clean up litter while you walk your block! It’s fun and an easy activity that you can do to help keep our city clean! If you need materials, give Keep Waco Beautiful a call to pick up materials. Call Executive Director Ashley Millerd at (254)723-5714 to arrange for clean-up material pick-up.

Show your appreciation to solid waste collection workers with a socially distant “air high five” and a thumbs up. Our crews will get a kick out of the extra encouragement.

If you still have questions, please call Waco Solid Waste Services at (254) 299-2612. Due to a reduced staff and high call volume, there may be a wait so we ask for your patience. You can also email me at and I will do my best to help find an answer to your question.

Thank you, Waco!

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 for more information.

Life with an Electric Vehicle (EV) – The first 90 days

By Teresa Porter

My friend slowly walked around the car, eyeing both it and me quizzically. I opened the hood and the charging port covers. He stopped and stared, looking confused. He looked up at me, a concerned look on his face. “Why?”

Curiosity finally got the best of me. After a decade of reading about electric cars, I finally bought one.

The purchase was almost impulsive. I chose the 2016 Nissan Leaf as my first-ever electric car for several reasons. There’s a dealership in town, they have a good reputation, and they’re really cheap. The previous owner, a leasee, drove her gently and took good care of her. I was looking for something newer, but wasn’t really thinking about electric. I looked at a couple of websites for a minute and there she was, third car on the page of unfiltered results. She sparked my interest, then sparked joy in my heart. I did fifteen minutes of research and signed the contract. A week later she was in my driveway and the keys were in my hand.

I fell head-over-heels in love with my Tokimeki the first time I drove her. Yes, I named my Leaf. Tokimeki is a Japanese noun that means “spark of joy”.  (You may be more familiar with the verb form, Tokimeku, meaning “sparking joy”, as used by Marie Kondo.) My love for her grows stronger every day, and my road rage has nearly completely vanished. I do have an occasional bout of “range anxiety”, but it’s part of the learning curve.

I learned a lot in the first 90 days, and I’ve encountered a lot of people with misconceptions. I’d like to clear some of that up. Here are some of the most common comments I’ve heard and my responses:

They’re oversized golf carts.  No. Golf carts don’t usually 0-60 in less than 10 seconds.

 Electric cars use gasoline. No. Hybrids use gasoline, not electric cars.

They’re expensive to maintain. No. Regenerative braking saves wear on the braking system, there’s no oil filter or crankcase oil, there’s no exhaust system (no catalytic converter, no muffler, no pipes, etc). No spark plugs, etc. The maintenance manual for this car is so thin it’s practically a brochure.

There’s nowhere to recharge. Okay, you got me there. Mclennan county is seriously lacking in public EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) infrastructure, especially if you don’t own a Tesla. It’s a bit of a surprise, considering the push for tourism. Many local apartment complexes aren’t EV-ready, and workplace charging is non-existent. I know, the struggle is real, especially if you drive a lot like I do. If I were a normal person who only drove an average of 60 miles a week, I would only need to use my Level 1 charger overnight once a week. What if I lived in an apartment, and was unable to run a charging cord out my window? I would have to find time to go to one of the dealerships for a few hours every week or rely on the Level 3 charging station at the Bellmead Walmart.

You can’t go very far. Well… you’re right. I can’t go very far – I have a small battery and a lead foot. Technology has improved significantly in the past three years and the range of the newer models is at least triple what I’m capable of. The range is largely a guess by the computer and will increase or decrease depending on how fast you’re going, how heavy your foot is, and how many hills you’re climbing. In a way, it encourages safe driving habits. Hard acceleration, high speeds, and sudden braking significantly decrease your range. Gentle acceleration and slow deceleration uses less energy and provides more regenerative power back to the battery. 

Your car is powered by coal. No. Well, maybe a little. I know that Oncor uses fossil fuels to power the distribution stations. I know that renewable sources and non-renewable sources travel through the same power lines. I know that even though I’ve chosen a “clean” provider, it still gets “dirty” on the way to my house. I also know there’s a lot more renewable energy on the grid than there used to be, and the trend will continue as consumers continue to increase their demand for cleaner energy.

Dealerships don’t stock them. Yeah, and they are very rarely advertised. I’ve talked to several salesmen at some of the local dealerships. Some of them swear they don’t sell, others admit they can’t keep them in stock. On a recent visit to a non-Nissan dealership, I told the salesman I wanted to trade one of my older gasoline cars for an electric car. He said, “You don’t want an electric car.” He couldn’t change my mind, and he wouldn’t change his.  He talked his way out of the sale. Jeez. No wonder those internet sites are becoming more popular.

They’re too expensive. Nope. The newer models are becoming more competitively priced, and when you factor in the federal tax credit still available for some manufacturers, they’re cheaper. There’s also a good used market right now, with gently driven 2 or 3 year-old cars at very reasonable prices. Don’t just look at the price tag, take the time to do the math and calculate the actual cost of ownership. New EVs are eligible for the tax credit but used EVs are not. New EVs are also eligible for a $2,500 rebate through the TCEQ Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive program. (There are a limited number of rebates that will be awarded first-come, first serve.) You’re not buying gasoline anymore. No oil change is required at 3,000 miles. No tune-ups, no engine air filter, no belts, tensioners, idler pulleys. Your electric bill will go up a few dollars, some owners see an increase of as much as $35 in their monthly bill. I was spending an average of $80 a month on gasoline, now I spend less than $20 a month for charging and still drive the same number of miles.

EVs will kill the automotive industry. No. I’m sure 100 years ago when people were still driving horse-drawn buggies, a similar argument was made by carriage makers. The carriage makers that evolved with the advancing technology stayed in business while those that resisted went bankrupt.

I don’t like the new body styles. I prefer the classics. I agree. Conversions are very sexy. It’s not as cheap as buying a new Tesla, but it can be done. Companies such as EV West, Electrified Garage, and Moment Motors are just a couple of experts in the field. Check out Youtube for videos of ICE to EV conversions.

Teresa Porter is a lifelong gearhead with a go-fast fetish. She is the President of the newly-formed Heart of Texas Electric Auto Association. Membership is open to all EV enthusiasts and advocates (not just owners). Email or follow Twitter @hot_eaa or join our Facebook group for updates and information.

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 for more information.

Changes to City of Waco Brush Pick Up Rules effective March 1, 2020

By Anna Dunbar

Hey, Wacoans! The Waco City Council has approved some changes to the city’s solid waste ordinance, effective March 1, 2020.  These changes were made in order to reduce residential curbside clutter throughout the city without increasing collection fees. Here is a summary of what the ordinance says:

  • Each household is allowed twice a Month Residential Curbside Brush Pickup (4’X4’X4’ pile) with NO increase in cost.
  • Up to two Green Cart Collections twice a month during “green weeks”
  • Curbside Brush cannot be larger than 3” in diameter
  • Brush to be placed on resident’s property not in street or on top of water meter
  • Only brush (No other trash) on piles awaiting transport to landfill
  • Limit of 20 paper bags (not plastic) with yard waste permitted
  • Brush larger than 4X4X4 must be taken to the landfill by resident or a commercial hauler (a list of haulers is available on our website)
  • Four free trips to the landfill and four free trips to the Citizen Collection Station each year with proof of residency
  • No limits on trips to Citizen Convenience Center with household recyclables only.
  • Additional Curbside collection during Council District Cleanup Days
  • Following major storm damaged the Mayor can designate additional brush collection plans for specific areas and a specific time.

In the future, more information will be available to Waco residents on as well as social media. Information will also be found in the water bill, the city’s newsletter, and the local news media. Please call (254) 299-2612 if you have additional questions. 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 for more information.

On the Ballot November 5: Proposition 5 for Texas State Park Funding

By Michaela McCown

Several times a year, but especially in October, my husband and I make an effort to get out of Waco for a weekend and enjoy the scenery at one of our local state parks. We hike, kayak, watch birds and wildlife, camp, stargaze, and use the time out in nature to decompress from the busyness of our jobs and reconnect with the environment around us. This time is particularly essential for my sanity, and I appreciate having such beautiful public parks around Texas to go visit!

Studies have shown the benefits of spending time outdoors – nature experiences may reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and attention deficits (Kellert, 2005; Louv, 2005, Buzzell & Chalquist, 2009). With over 80% of North Americans living in urban areas, it is essential to have public spaces for people to go out and enjoy nature. In Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is one of the main organizations that fills that niche through the Texas State Park System.

TPWD maintains 80 state parks across the state – from Big Bend Ranch and Franklin Mountains State Park in West Texas to Caddo Lake State Park on the Eastern Texas border. We have our own selection of beautiful state parks within an hour’s drive of Waco: Mother Neff, Meridian, Lake Whitney, and Fort Parker State Parks. Parks across the state keep getting busier as more people move to Texas and discover these gems. Unfortunately, TPWD has not been able to keep up with the higher demand and traffic in these parks: more parks have experienced damage to facilities that they have not had time or funding to repair, and parks across the state have become overcrowded. During the upcoming election on November 5th, you can vote for Proposition 5 to help direct more funding towards Texas State Parks to address maintenance concerns, facility upgrades, and even develop new state parks altogether.

Voters may be concerned that Proposition 5, though great for the state parks, would mean more taxes for Texans. However, there is actually no increase in taxes through Proposition 5 – it just ensures that funding that has already been allocated for TPWD actually goes where it is supposed to! The U.S. and Texas have a long history of setting aside funding for the management of wildlife and public lands – starting in the 1930s with the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act. This act, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act, was approved by Congress in 1937 and implemented a tax on hunting goods to fund wildlife conservation across the nation. This became one of the main tools to help fund wildlife conservation across the nation, and the effort was expanded in 1950 with the addition of the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, which taxes fishing goods.

 In addition to the funding TPWD receives from these two pieces of legislation for wildlife conservation, TPWD also has to manage its state parks, which do not fall directly within the bounds of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration or the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Acts. Our state parks, to ensure that they are available to individuals of all income levels, are not self-supporting and rely on outside funding sources. Before 1994, a minor tax on cigarettes helped to fund our state parks. In 1993, the Texas Legislature decided to expand the idea of the Federal Aid Acts described above and devote the portion of taxes already collected on sporting goods back to state parks and historic sites. This is called the Sporting Goods Sales Tax Allocation, and, when it was created, had great potential to contribute a consistent amount of annual funding to our state parks and historic sites.

Unfortunately, since its establishment in 1993, most of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax Allocation has not been used for state parks and historic sites but instead has been used to balance the state budget. This has made it incredibly challenging for TPWD to maintain a consistent budget for the state park system and has led to budget shortfalls and almost $800 million in deferred maintenance (Tatum 2019).

If passed on this upcoming ballot, Proposition 5 will ensure that the intention of the 1993 Sporting Goods Sales Tax Allocation is actually followed – that the money already set aside for state parks will, in the future, always be allocated towards state parks. Proposition 5 will not raise the current tax rate that Texans pay, and it will have immeasurable impacts for the public wild spaces we so dearly love. If you want to know what specific projects will benefit from this additional funding, TPWD has a list of current projects on their website at So please, get out and vote for Proposition 5, and then go visit a state park to appreciate how your voting decision will help keep Texans wild for generations to come.

Michaela McCown is a native Texan whose passion for wildlife and conservation stemmed from her experiences growing up on a ranch outside of Dripping Springs. For the last several years, Michaela has been teaching biology and environmental science at Vanguard College Preparatory School in Waco, TX. In addition to teaching, Michaela serves on the Sustainability Board for McLennan Community College and on the Board of Directors for the Texas Land Conservancy. In her spare time, Michaela enjoys spending time with her husband and dog while they explore Texas by foot, bike, and kayak.

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  for more information.

Get informed: Sustainable Waco Conference coming soon!

By Melissa Mullins

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a cave (no judgement if you do), you probably hear quite a bit of talk, at least in the public sphere, about climate change.  You may have heard it come up in politics.  You may have heard your neighbor say he doesn’t believe in it.  You may hear it invoked when there’s threats of bigger, badder weather events.  You may, if you are like me, sometimes feel overwhelmed by it all.

The truth is, both government and industry scientists have known for over 50 years that carbon dioxide levels are increasing in our atmosphere, that the increase is due to human activity, and that this will have impacts on the Earth’s climate system*.  And most Americans now believe this to be true.  Recent research shows that we are not a nation of climate deniers, but we are a nation of climate avoiders.  Because we think it’s too big, we can’t do anything about it, we just avoid it.  Most Americans don’t discuss global warming with their friends and family, and many reasons are given in surveys for why this is:  it doesn’t come up, they think everybody already agrees, or conversely, are not interested in it, it is too political, or people feel like they don’t know enough to talk about it.

How can we avoid avoidance?  Michael Smyer suggests that we picture a place that we care about, picture it being affected by climate change or extreme weather as well as how we’d like it to look in 50 years, then think about something we can do NOW to work towards our desired future vision.  It’s that last part that’s hard sometimes.  One thing that you can do TODAY is register for the Sustainable Waco conference, which will be held Monday August 5th.

The McLennan Community College Sustainability Committee, with support from Waco Friends of Peace-Climate and Baylor University-Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, has been hard at work organizing Waco’s first ever community-wide conference on climate and sustainability that is open to everyone, and YOU are invited.  Conference organizer Michaela McCown says the reason for having the conference is so that our entire community can become more sustainable.  “We want to help people understand that there are lots of things individuals can do, and actions that communities can take, to make a difference in saving money, helping our planet, and making Waco a better place to live.”

The conference is only $15 to attend which includes lunch, and CPE credits are available for educators.  Speakers from Waco and other communities in Texas will give presentations on a wide variety of sustainability topics, including recycling, city-wide composting, solar for residential use, of course climate change, and many others.  To register, call 254-299-8888 or go to and search “Sustainable Waco”.  You can also find the event on Facebook for all the latest updates.

* Check out “Losing Earth:  The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” by Nathaniel Rich- it’s at the Waco-McLennan Co. Library, engagingly written, fascinating and infuriating.

Melissa Mullins coordinates education and outreach at Baylor’s aquatic research center.  She serves on the Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) USA Network Council, which has recently developed climate change education resources for K-12 audiences.  Water and climate are intricately linked!  The views expressed here are solely those of the author.

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 for more information.

Sustainable Waco: June 1 is Household Hazardous Waste Day!

By Anna Dunbar

Happy end of the school year, everyone! And you know what the end of school means to me – it’s time for Household Hazardous Waste Day! That is a special day when residents can bring things that should not be put in regular household garbage or poured down drains to be properly disposed of or recycled. It is a free service and occurs about once per year.

First, the specifics:

Who: This event is for all residents of Waco, Hewitt, Lacy Lakeview, and Woodway that live within the city limits. Residents must bring a city utility bill or other proof of city residency and driver’s license. Waste will not be accepted from residents from other cities or those who live outside of a city limits.

When: Saturday, June 1, 2019, from 7 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.


What to bring: Paints, CFL and fluorescent bulbs, batteries of all kinds, electronics of all kinds, including TVs and computers, automotive fluids, insecticides, weed killers, pool chemicals, cleaners, poisons, corrosives, paints and paint products, flammables and most other hazardous chemicals from households.  Also, tires (5 per household); No tires with rims/wheels, Residential tires only, No business tires, No Skid Steer, Earth Movers, large farm or agricultural tires;  Maximum size is 20 inches.

Please NO: Agricultural Chemicals, Dioxins, Containers Larger than 5 Gallons, Explosives/Fireworks/Ammunitions, Industrial or Commercial/Business Waste, Propane Cylinders of Any Kind and Compressed Gasses, Radioactive Materials, Business Waste, Large Appliances, refrigerators, syringes, trash or garbage.

A steady stream of cars containing items to be disposed of will probably be at the collection area on Saturday. Please BE PREPARED TO WAIT IN LINE!

What to do before the event

 Take inventory! Remember that paint that is totally dried can go in your regular trash. Other tips-

  1. Keep items in their original container.
  2. Organize items together in a box(es). This will allow workers to remove your items quickly.  It is best to keep paint products separate from other waste.
  3. Place items in boxes, pad with newspaper. This will help prevent possible spillage in your car/truck and will enable workers to remove materials quicker.
  4. After you pack your car, drive directly to 501 Schroeder Drive.
  5. Mid-morning is usually the least busy time.  The busiest time is usually when the event first opens at 7 AM.

MOST IMPORTANT – Never Mix Chemicals and Never Smoke while handling your hazardous materials.

Finally, I want to thank all of the hundreds of households that have participated in the household hazardous waste day over the years. You took the time to carefully collect your stuff and bring it to us for safe disposal or recycling. Then, you patiently waited in line to give your items to us. That’s impressive and I thank you!

Still have questions? Feel free to contact me at or (254) 299-2496. You can also contact Waco Solid Waste at (254) 299-2612. Thank you for doing the right thing to keep Waco clean and green!

Anna Dunbar is the Environmental Program Manager 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 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 for more information.

Earth Day is April 22… And every day!

By Anna Dunbar

Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin and 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. I recall pretty vividly cleaning up my high school on Earth Day in 1970. We did things like parking lot and curb sweeping and cleaning windows, and it started me down a path that I continue on today!

Over the decades, the spirit of Earth Day has risen, fallen, and risen again. In the US, we began to separate our household trash from recyclables in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  The City of Waco began curbside recycling with a paper collection in 2000. Many Waco companies like Coca Cola, M&M Mars, and Allergan have adopted zero waste or waste reduction and green business practices. Schools and churches have jumped in with efforts to send less waste to the landfill.

Here is what you can do to celebrate Earth Day Monday and every day in Waco:

Pop-Up Saturday: Earth Day, 4/13/2019

Time & Place: Dr. Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute 300 S 5th Street Waco, TX 76701 11 am – 2 pm

Description: Celebrate Earth Day at the Dr. Pepper Museum by making your own Chia pet out of a recycled plastic bottle! You can then take this resourceful craft home to nurture and grow your own Chia pet. This activity is free with general admission and will be located in the Museum courtyard.

On the Web:

Crafty Adults: Upcycled Book Bracelet, 4/13/2019

Time & Place: West Waco Library  2:00pm – 3:30pm

Description: Recycled materials make great jewelry if you put them together just right. Take old book pages, beads and other supplies and make an amazing bracelet. We’ll have everything you need, but if you want to use your favorite book page, bring it with you. Space and materials are limited, so register online.

On the Web:

Drug Take-Back Day

On Saturday, April 28, from 10 Am until 2 PM, take this great opportunity to get rid of unwanted and expired drugs in a safe and secure manner.

Please no needles, inhalers, aerosol cans, hydrogen peroxide, or thermometers.

Worm Composting Class!

Keep Waco Beautiful and Pecan Bluff Farms are teaming up to teach you how you can start harvesting and creating your own compost with Red Wigglers. The class will include all the materials to take home including the worms and a “How to” packet to take with you for your future reference! Sign up today because there are limited slots! Class fee is $20.

Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 2 PM – 3 PM; sign up at

Do the Blue and Green in Waco!

One or two blue curbside recycling carts and one green yard waste cart are included in the City of Waco monthly curbside trash service fee paid by Waco residents.

  • To get a blue cart for recycling and a green cart for yard waste, go to and complete a request form on-line. 
  • You can also call the Solid Waste Services main office at (254) 299-2612 on Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 5 PM.
  • You can also sign up online fir a blue or green cart at: or
  • Para informacion en Espanol – (254) 299-2612

Freon containing appliances are banned from landfill disposal and cannot be recycled until the Freon has been removed.  Waco residents can get the Freon removed at the landfill or the Cobbs Recycling Center for a $15 fee per appliance.  Appliances will be recycled after removal of the refrigerant. Anyone from anywhere can also take Freon containing appliances to the Waco landfill for a fee.

You CAN recycle glass bottles and jars!

At the Cobbs Center, anyone from anywhere can bring household recyclables, including metal containers, plastic containers, cardboard, paper and glass containers to the Cobbs Citizen Convenience Center (Recycling Center). The Cobbs Recycling Center is at 2021 N. 44th Street (between Cobbs Drive and Trice Avenue) on Tuesday through Saturday from 8 AM until 5 PM.

Don’t forget to protect our water quality!

According to a 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.

While walking the dog or visiting a park, take a bag for doggie doo and a bag for litter too! You can recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans that you find.

Find like-minded people and organize a clean-up. Keep Waco Beautiful can help with supplies for that activity.


Finally, I hear that there is so much to remember and it’s so confusing! I want to remind everyone that there are resources out there to help you:

  • is the City of Waco website.
  • Waco Solid Waste customer service is at (254) 299-2612.
  • Waco Cobbs Citizen Convenience Center is at (254) 751-8536.
  • City of Waco Landfill is at (254) 299-2620.
  • To report illegal dumping, please call (254) 299-2611.
  • Keep Waco Beautiful (KWB) is a local affiliate of Keep Texas Beautiful and has fantastic educational and volunteer opportunities available. KWB is at (254) 339- 1077 from 10 AM until 2 PM on Monday through Friday. You can also contact kwacob at

Thank you for all you do to keep Waco clean and green!

Anna Dunbar is the Environmental Program Manager 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 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 for more information.

“Water for All” matters world wide – we can do our part in Waco too!

By Melissa Mullins

The theme for this year’s World Water Day (celebrated annually on March 22) is  Water for All .      What does this mean?  Access to clean water and sanitation is a basic human right and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 establishes 2030 as a target for achieving this (which is right around the corner). 2.1 billion people live without safe water at home.   In many parts of the world, people cannot simply turn on the faucet and have water come out.  If water is not supplied to households or easily accessible central locations, how do people get water?  Securing the family’s basic water needs daily often falls mainly to women and girls, and can take up such a large amount of time that it affects their ability to obtain education or thrive in other ways.  Similarly, many people cannot simply flush their toilets to dispose of human wastes.  On a global scale, more than 700 children under 5 die each day from diarrhea related to unsafe water and sanitation

Here in the U.S., communities struggle with issues such as lead-contamination of drinking water – we’ve all heard of the on-going struggles in Flint, Michigan.  But getting concerned about  Water for All on a global scale for may be difficult because, after all, we can turn on a faucet and flush a toilet pretty much anywhere we go.  What about water issues closer to home?

Water for people can be water for fish and wildlife too, although there may be competing demands for water.  Balancing these demands to try to ensure adequate water for all, especially in places subject to drought (sound familiar?) or water scarcity is one of the major things that natural resource and other public agencies deal with.  If you want to learn about, help protect, or just experience and enjoy our water resources in the Waco Community, there are so many opportunities do so and they are growing all the time!  Here’s a few suggestions:

Learn:  Where does your water comes from and how does it get to you?  Where does it go when you flush the toilet and how is it treated?  If you don’t know the answer to these questions (and it will be different depending on where you are in the Greater Waco area), I challenge you to figure it out!

Keep it Clean and Conserve:  Join Keep Waco Beautiful for the quarterly Brazos River Cleanup  coming up on April 13th, or for one of their rainwater harvesting classes.  Group W Bench litter patrol non-profit regularly plans clean-ups around our community.  Everyone’s probably seen the upsetting picture of the  sea turtle with the plastic straw up its nose .  Did you know that 80% of ocean pollution begins on land (including plastics, but also other pollution)?  That means that Whataburger cup and non-trash pollution that starts here in Waco can end up in the Gulf of Mexico (yes- Waco Creek flows to the Brazos River, and the Brazos River flows to the Gulf!)

Check yourself and ask local businesses and governments what they are doing:  Being a good steward of water means more than turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth or taking shorter showers.   Could we reduce the need for so many river clean-ups if we didn’t use disposable water bottles and straws in the first place?  Could we support businesses that provide better alternatives to the waste generated with our “convenience lifestyle”? 

Many people don’t realize that energy production is a major user of water in the U.S.  Can you carpool some places you don’t already or even walk?  Can you attend public meetings (such as have been occurring recently in Waco) regarding setting community-wide goals for transitioning to sustainable energy sources?  The City of Waco’s long-term goals include improved public transportation and improvements to our city’s walkability and bikability , but there’s still a lot of work to be done, and your voice and energy as a community member are valuable.

Enjoy our water resources:  Take a walk on the Waco Riverwalk that links Cameron Park, Downtown, and the Baylor campus, on both sides of the river (free!).  Or, get out on the water- did you know that we have not one but two Texas paddling trails in downtown Waco?  There are two paddling companies where you can rent canoes or kayaks, and for those with their own boats the Waco Paddle Club organizes outings on local water bodies.  There’s a pontoon boat tour that is fun for residents as well as Waco visitors. Want to head out to the lake?  You can purchase an annual pass from the US Army Corps of Engineers that gives you access to all the parks around Lake Waco.  Want your kids to be safe while at the lake?  The Corps offers water safety programs  designed to reduce water-related fatalities;  in addition to always wearing a life jacket, swimming lessons are one of the best things you can do to ensure your family’s safety around water, and swimming lessons are available through the YMCA of Central Texas (including financial assistance).  Take your dogs on a hike or practice your nature photography or birdwatching skills at the beautiful Lake Waco Wetlands – or join Cameron Park Zoo staff for National Frog Month to explore and search for frogs at the Wetlands every weekend in April

Celebrate: There are many community events that are affordable or free and have water-related connections.  Of course, Act Locally Waco keeps us up to date on all the happenings.  Keep the “Water for All” celebration going throughout the year!

Melissa Mullins is a water educator who works at Baylor University’s Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research.  The Center celebrated World Water Day by facilitating citizen science water quality testing  in after-school science clubs, at the Mayborn Museum and at Girl Scouts of Central Texas STEMfest.

Sustainability and Social Justice: Why is Being Green So White?

By Melissa Mullins

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has become a day of service in many communities (including Waco), and this year I find myself reflecting on sustainability and issues of social justice.  I’m thinking specifically about  inclusivity and representation in environmental movements.  I’m too young to remember the civil rights movement, but old enough to remember being part of the letter-writing campaign at my public school to ask congress to make MLK Day a national holiday.  It’s natural to wonder at this time of year how far have we come, and how far do we still have to go, in relation to Dr. King’s dream of inclusivity.

Another thing that’s gotten me thinking about this issue is some reading I’ve been doing.  Last spring, I had the great pleasure of participating in a class at Truett Seminary  on the novels, poetry, and essays of Wendell Berry.  Berry has cult-like status as a spiritual farmer, environmentalist, social commentator and I had read some of his works prior to the class (he is, after all, from the same Kentucky county as my grandfather).  But, in addition to Berry, we also read an essay by  bell hooks.  I recognized hooks as a feminist writer (also a Kentuckian) but had never considered her in the context of environmental issues.  The essay made me want to read her 2009 book , Belonging:  A Culture of Place.  Next month, I’m attending the annual conference of the Informal Science Education Association of Texas  in Rockport, TX. The keynote speaker is Dr. Carolyn Finney.  Conference attendees are encouraged to read her book  “Black Faces, White Spaces:  Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors”  (2014) so they can participate in a book discussion with the author.  And I’m slowly (this one is very scholarly and not for the faint of heart) working my way through “The Rise of the American Conservation Movement:  Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection  by Dr. Dorceta E. Taylor

What have I learned from all this reading? Like everything else in our society, gender, race and class matter when it comes to environmentalism, conservation, land ownership, relationship to nature and the great outdoors — but it’s complicated and what we think we know isn’t always true. Poor communities are disproportionately affected by the negative consequences of poor environmental practices, but often have the least voice in environmental decisions made about their own communities. Marginalized people have been instrumental in environmental issues, but their contributions have often been ignored.

The final thing, and maybe the most important, that got me to thinking about this is that I went to the meeting of the Sustainable Resource Practices Advisory Board  this week.  I went for the same reason as pretty much everyone else there–because the Board was considering whether to advise the Waco City Council to adopt a resolution pledging to a goal of 100% green energy sources for City energy use by 2025 and renewable energy in all sectors by 2050. I found the meeting to be both hopeful and frustrating for a variety of reasons (that’s another story, one I’ll continue to follow,  you can read about it yourself in the Trib).  I also noticed that of the ten or so people sitting around the Board table and maybe another 50 in the room, there were definitely people of color, but only a handful. It made me reflect on the diversity (or lack thereof) of other environmental and conservation groups I am involved with or interact with in Waco – Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners, Audubon, etc. In other words, representation and inclusivity in the environmental movement isn’t just an issue in books, or in other places… 

Sustainability is often considered to rest on three main pillars: environmental, economic and social (planet, profit, people). We must move Beyond Recycling:  Reframing Sustainability as a Social Justice Issue and consider that sustainability is not just about picking up trash on MLK day (though I love doing that and it is kind of addictive). I’m generally not comfortable with white people asking why people of color do, or don’t do, some particular thing, but when diverse voices are not included or heard in our discussions of sustainability, this leaves out valuable perspectives that can strengthen decision-making. It is up to all of us to challenge the status quo and move the needle forward on critical issues such as climate change. For our efforts to be successful we must include consideration of topics that might be lacking from a traditional approach to sustainability – such as race and gender inequality, food insecurity, homelessness, and others.

Melissa Mullins is a Kentuckian who, as of next year, will have lived in Waco half her life.  She is an aquatic scientist and environmental educator and co-author of the paper Social and Environmental Justice in the Chemistry Classroom  (Lasker, et al. J. Chem. Educ., 2017, 94 (8), pp 983–987). 

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 for more information.

Sustainable Waco: Happy America Recycles Day!

By Anna Dunbar

America Recycles Day (ARD) has its 21st 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 met them while I was at the agency and have always been impressed with their creativity. They came up with the concept of designating a day to promote recycling in Texas, but then of course they had to wrestle with the question of what day. They wanted a day that was far enough away from Earth Day (April 22nd), but they did not want it to get mixed up in all the media in the run up to Election Day.  They picked November 15th .

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 because our Waco Landfill is running out of space for trash. If you want to recycle in and around Waco, here’s what you can do:

Do you want to get started recycling in your home?  First, Waco residents should note that up to 2 blue carts for curbside recycling and 1 green yard waste cart are available for no extra fee. Please call (254) 299-2612 with questions or to request a blue or green cart on Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 5 PM.  Para informacion en Espanol: (254) 299-2612.  You can also go to the City of Waco Recycling Service Website and complete a request form.  On the website you will find information about the recycling program including a calendar with “blue cart weeks” and “green cart weeks”.  You can also request a printed calendar be mailed to you.

Visit the Cobbs Convenience Center to recycle! Anyone from anywhere can bring the following items at no charge regardless of residency.   Please rinse items which have contained food or drink.

  • Plastics #1 – #7, all colors. We cannot accept Styrofoam.
  • Glass bottles and jars, clear, brown, blue and green.
  • Metal, including steel or “tin” cans, aluminum cans, and aluminum pie plates.
  • Paper, such as magazines, phone books, cardboard, junk mail, printer paper, envelopes with windows and stapled paper.
  • Cooking oil (liquid only, please no solid grease)
  • Household batteries

Waco residents can also recycle big items (such as scrap tires, appliances with Freon and electronics) at Cobbs. Some items may have a fee.

Become a part of the “blue bucket brigade!” – Mission Waco is asking the public to donate food waste for composting and is making buckets available for the process. One can obtain a blue bucket at the greenhouse, located on the corner of North 15th Street and Colcord Avenue, next to Jubilee Food Market. Instructions and sawdust are available to help you with diversion of your organics for composting.

Do you plan to fry a turkey for the holidays? 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; it can clog pipes and the City’s sewer system. You can properly dispose of the cooking oil or grease at 5 stations located around the city; go to or call 254-299-2612.

Recycle your live Christmas tree at the Chipping of the Green on January 6 at Paul Tyson field from 10 AM until 3 PM. Keep Waco Beautiful partners with City of Waco Parks and Recreation to turn your tree into mulch. See Keep Waco Beautiful’s Facebook page to learn more.

Replace your alkaline batteries with rechargeable ones. Newer models can charge in as little as 15 minutes! It saves you money and helps the environment at the same time.

Instead of disposable plates and utensils, serve food on real dishware. Get those dishes out and use them! Your mom and grandma will be so proud! Also, prevent food waste: Ask friends to bring containers for leftovers or get that blue bucket from Mission Waco!

Electronics and appliances: Waco residents can take electronics and appliances to the Cobbs Recycling Center with proof of residency. There will be a fee for appliances containing Freon. If you are not a Waco resident, you can take appliances without Freon to one of Waco’s metal recyclers. Appliances with Freon can be taken to the Waco landfill; again there will be a fee. Many electronics (except TV’s) can go to Goodwill. Best Buy accepts electronics for recycling; Best Buy will charge a fee.

Why all of this discussion of recycling during the holidays, you might wonder. It’s because Americans produce more trash during the holidays than any other time of year! It’s estimated to be 25% more. Between the wrapping paper, disposable plates and cups, Christmas advertisements and cards, and plastic shopping bags – it’s hard to keep track of everything we dispose of during those busy months. And, we pile it all in a bag, tie the bag, and put it in the grey cart to be set out and “disappear” forever.  But, it doesn’t really disappear, does it?  With some effort, we can all do a better job of recycling. The future generations will thank us!

Anna Dunbar is the Environmental Programs Manager for the City of Waco Public Works Department. She has been working with the City of Waco since August, 2012. Anna has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Texas at Dallas.  She and her husband live in Woodway, where she recycles as much as she can! She is also active in the Central Texas Audubon Society and Waco Rotary.

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 for more information.