Houston Environmental News Update November 13, 2019

America Recycles Day & Week, Prairies & Pollinators, Spring Creek Nature Trail Field Trip, SPARK Parks Week, Green Jobs, and more

This Friday, November 15, is America Recycles Day–a program of Keep America Beautiful— and part of National Recycling Week.

You can celebrate ARD in many ways by accepting a recycling challenge, or by participating in the following events:

Two years ago, when we wrote about America Recycles Day, we were celebrating the return of recycling in the City of Houston after Harvey. The City of Houston has since entered into a new recycling contract, has begun sending recyclables to a new facility, and restarted collection of glass. Hooray!

Unfortunately, the amount of contamination in the recyclables collected by the City is high, and high contamination means less will be recycled and the value of the recyclable materials is less. By being a better recycler, you can help the City of Houston, or any recycling program, be more successful. The City of Houston’s Solid Waste Department wants all Houston residents to recycle every bottle, can, piece of paper and cardboard they have within their home; and to look for ways to reduce their waste and recycling generation by buying fewer single-use items. “If we could achieve this, we would have a very successful program!” writes Deputy Director Sarah Mason.writes Sarah Mason, the City of Houston’s Recycling Division Manager.Unfortunately, the amount of contamination in the recyclables collected by the City is high, and high contamination means less will be recycled and the value of the recyclable materials is less. By being a better recycler, you can help the City of Houston, or any recycling program, be more successful. The City of Houston’s Solid Waste Department wants all Houston residents to recycle every bottle, can, piece of paper and cardboard they have within their home; and to look for ways to reduce their waste and recycling generation by buying fewer single-use items. “If we could achieve this, we would have a very successful program!” writes writes Sarah Mason, the City of Houston’s Recycling Division Manager.

So how can you do better? Make sure containers are “clean and empty” before tossing them in the recycle cart. Include “bottles, jugs and tubs” from the “kitchen, bath and laundry” areas of the house–this helps define the plastic items more easily than the number of the resin codes.

Beware of wishcycling! Some things you HOPE are recyclable, but present challenges that make recycling infeasible. Common wishcycling problems include items that are made of plastic (ex: toys, forks, pens, etc.) but are either not the right size, shape, or density to be recovered in a Material Recovery Facility (MRF–or recyling facility). Equally problematic are items made from more than one material or type of plastic. Other items dirtying up the recycling stream include yard waste, food, clothes, and “tanglers” such as wires, cords and hoses. And, of course, plastic bags and films should be recycled at a collection station, commonly found at grocery stores and hypermarkets.

Here’s a list of other recycling programs and resources:

And since we’re talking about recycling… CEC arranged to divert 70% of recyclables and compostables away from the landfill at Earth Day Houston. Based on results from 2018, in 2019 we were able to provide compostable alternatives to the most commonly tossed items (non-recyclable plastic cutlery). If you are interested in helping to develop the zero waste plan for Earth Day Houston, please email [email protected] to be added to the planning group.


Green Films: How to Tell Your Story with Film & Video

Join CEC, the Rice Media Center and other partners on Nov. 20, 2019, for the next installment of the Houston Green Film Series. CEC is hosting a panel discussion on “How to Tell Your Story with Film & Video.” Do you have an environmental story to tell with film or video? Pitch your idea to a dozens of aspiring and experienced filmmakers at November gathering, or email your ideas to [email protected]

The Green Film Series is taking a break in December, but please join us at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 28 and 29, 2020. Tickets now on sale!

Earth Day Houston: Exhibitor Registration now available

Earth Day Houston, part of the 50th worldwide observance, will be held at Discovery Green on Sunday, April 19, 2020.

CEC welcomes new Interns

Here at CEC, we have recently welcomed three outstanding new interns. Marketing Intern Angie Chicas is a senior at the University of Houston where she is pursuing a B.S. in Digital Media, and a minor in Organizational Leadership and Supervision. Environmental Health Intern Anushka Mukund is a senior at the University of Houston and is pursuing a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Public Health. Policy & Government Relations Intern Scarlett Ramon is a junior at the University of Houston and is pursuing of a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Studio Art. Click on their names to learn more about these ambitious and environmentally dedicated young people!

Scroll down to read notes from our member organizations and the community, or view the emailed version of the newsletter, which includes a green job listing.


We have endeavored to confirm the opportunities listed below. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts.

Galas Galore!

As we noted in a previous newsletter, the Houston region’s environmental nonprofit community is in the midst of its gala/fundraiser season. Click on the links below to learn more about the upcoming events.

2019 Prairies & Pollinators

A regional celebration from Mid-September through Mid-November 2019. Includes nature hikes, classes, seed collecting events, festivals, film fests, etc., that celebrate the Coastal Prairies of our region. Full event details located at http://prairiepartner.org/2019-prairies-pollinators.

  • Sat., 11/16/19: Ann Hamilton Trail Walking Tour
  • Sat., 11/16/19: Sylvan Rodriguez Prairie Planting Event
  • Fri., 11/22/19: Hobart Taylor Park Prairie Planting Event
  • See more at PrairiePartner.org

H-GAC Our Great Region Award winners named

The Houston-Galveston Area Council recently announced the winners of the 2019 Our Great Region Awards, which recognize outstanding projects in the H-GAC’s 13-county region that advance the goals and strategies outlined in the Our Great Region 2040 plan. This plan, published by H-GAC in 2014, identifies goals and strategies to improve and enhance the region’s resilience, economy, and environment by the year 2040. To see the full list of winners and learn more, visit ourregion.org.

Houston Audubon accepting applications for Young Professionals Advisory Council

Houston Audubon is accepting applications for its 2020 Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC). The goal of the YPAC is to engage the next generation of conservationists and to build awareness of Houston Audubon’s mission among young professionals. YPAC members have the chance to make a significant impact in the world of bird conservation and play an important role in enhancing wildlife habitat. For more information and to apply (by November 29), visit houstonaudubon.org.

Harris County Flood Control District Community Engagement Meetings

The Harris County Flood Control District is holding a series of Community Engagement Meetings related to the 2018 Harris County Flood Control District Bond Program. Learn more about the Program and the meetings at hcfcd.org. The next meeting is 11/14/19: South Mayde Creek.

Parks and Natural Areas Roundtable Field Trip

On Nov. 14, 2019, from 10 a.m.-noon, the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Parks and Natural Areas Roundtable will host a presentation and short walk at Spring Creek Nature Trail in The Woodlands. Participants will meet at the recreation center at Rob Fleming Park. Transportation to and from H-GAC can be provided for up to 20 registrants. The group will leave H-GAC at 8:30 a.m. The field trip officially ends at noon. Anyone riding with H-GAC will return at approximately 3 p.m. For more information and to register, visit constantcontact.com.

Houston Audubon presents Light Right to Bring Back the Night

On Nov. 14, 2019, beginning at 7:30 p.m., Houston Audubon will host a special speaker event, “Light Right to Bring Back the Night” with Deborah Moran. She will discuss light pollution and the adverse impact from unshielded light on plants, animals and humans, including glare and visibility problems and health effects, and how to light with minimum impact for greater visibility at the least energy use and where to buy good quality lighting. The event will be held at the United Way Resource Center. For more information, visit houstonaudubon.org. Moran will give a related talk on Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Katy Prairie Conservancy.

Gulf of Mexico B-WET Funding Webinar

On Nov. 15, 2019, from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., there will be a Gulf of Mexico Bay Watershed Education and Training program (B-WET) funding opportunity webinar. The program is an environmental education program that supports locally relevant experiential learning in the K-12 environment. Funded projects provide meaningful watershed educational experiences for students, related professional development for teachers, systemic education to schools, and help to support regional education and environmental priorities in the Gulf of Mexico. The FY20 Gulf of Mexico B-WET Notice of Funding Opportunity is now open and accepting applications through Grants.gov until 10:59 p.m., Central Time on November 29, 2019. See full details at www.grants.gov.For more information on Gulf of Mexico B-WET or these webinars, please contact [email protected] or visit fisheries.noaa.gov.

Park to Port Bike Ride

On Nov. 16, 2019, the Hermann Park Conservancy will host the Park to Port Bike Ride, a 20-mile round trip from Hermann Park’s Bayou Parkland east along the Brays Bayou Greenway trail to the Port of Houston where Port Houston sponsors a turn-around party with snacks, drinks and music. Participants then ride back along the trail to Hermann Park for a celebratory Post-Ride Party. The Park to Port Bike Ride is open to riders of all levels and is not a race. For more information and to register, visit hermannpark.org.

Leopold Education Project workshop

The Leopold Education Project is an interdisciplinary environmental education curriculum targeted mainly to middle school and high school students. It can also be adapted for use with families, adults, and elementary age children. On Nov. 16, 2019 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., there will be a Leopold Education Project workshop for teachers and informal educators at Long Acres Ranch. Six TEA continuing education hours for educators will be awarded. The $50 registration fee includes lunch, a curriculum guide, and a copy of A Sand County Almanac. To register, contact Kristi Pierce with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District at [email protected].

Woodland Park Trail Restoration

On Nov. 16, 2019, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., the Friends of Woodland Park and Parks Project (an apparel company that donates a portion of its proceeds a field crew fund which organizes volunteer events at all kinds of parks) will hold a volunteer event to revitalize, weed, and mulch the wooded trail entrance. For more information and to register, visit parksproject.ticketleap.com.

Film screening: Fear No Gumbo

On Nov. 16, 2019, beginning at 4:15 p.m., the Houston Cinema Arts Festival will present a screening of Fear No Gumbo, a documentary which tells the story of how the people of New Orleans keep growing their families, mourning their dead, and celebrating their culture more than a decade after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina (see the trailer). The screening will be held in the Brown Auditorium of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. For more information and to purchase tickets, see the Facebook event.

ESG Decoded early-bird tickets available through Nov. 17

On Dec. 4, 2019, Global Affairs Associates will present “ESG Decoded,” a full-day training session on the concept of “Environmental, Social, Governance” criteria used for measuring the sustainable and equitable impact of investment. The event will be held at Three Post Oak Central. Early-bird ticket sales continue through Nov. 17. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit eventbrite.com.

2019 SPARK Park Week runs Nov. 18-22

The 2019 SPARK Park Week, dedicating new SPARK Parks at schools throughout the Houston area, will run Nov. 18-22. The celebrations are:

  • Monday, Nov. 18 – 9 a.m. – Milne Elementary, 7800 Portal Dr., Houston
  • Nov. 18 – 1 p.m. – Condit Elementary, 7000 S 3rd St., Bellaire
  • Nov. 20 – 1:30 p.m.- Poe Elementary, 5100 Hazard St., Houston
  • Nov.21 – 9 a.m. – Walnut Bend Elementary, 10620 Briar Forest Dr., Houston
  • Nov.21 – 1 p.m. – Whidby Elementary, 7625 Springhill St., Houston
  • Nov. 22 – 9:30 a.m. – Huffman Elementary, 24403 E. Lake Houston Parkway, Huffman
  • Nov. 22 – 1 p.m.- McGowen Elementary, 6820 Homestead Rd., Houston. For more information, visit sparkpark.org.

2019 Power Tools for Nonprofits Conference

On Nov. 20, 2019, from 7:45 a.m.-4 p.m., CenterPoint Energy will host its 26th annual renowned community conference where experts from various fields share their knowledge in fund development, best practices, human resources, management strategies, marketing/public relations, organizational effectiveness, leadership, professional/career development. and more. The event will be held at the NRG Center. For more information and to register, visit centerpointenergy.com.

Clean Waters Initiative Workshop

On Nov. 20, 2019, from 10 a.m.-noon, the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Clean Waters Initiative will host a workshop on MS4 stormwater management and low impact development. Learn more and register at h-gac.com.

Fall Interfaith Environmental Stewardship Event

On Nov. 20, 2019, from 1:30-4:30 p.m., the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston and partnering congregations will host an a hands-on environmental stewardship by trimming trees, mulching, and watering at the Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve in Houston. This event will offer activities for all ages and skill levels. Meet at The Gathering Place, 5310 South Willow Dr. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Understanding Houston launch event

On Nov. 21, 2019, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Understanding Houston, a new collaboration between the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University to serve as a central resource for longitudinal data and trends on a broad range of issues affecting the Greater Houston region, will hold its launch event at The Briar Club. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit understandinghouston.org.

Cypress Creek Watershed Partnership public meeting

On Nov. 21, 2019, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., the Cypress Creek Watershed Partnership, a voluntary group of local stakeholders supported by the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, will hold its third public meeting to discuss the development of the watershed protection plan for Cypress Creek. The meeting will be held at the Barbara Bush Library in Spring. For more information, visit cypresspartnership.weebly.com.

Chasing Coral screening and discussion

On Nov. 21, 2019, from 6-8 p.m., Lone Star College-Kingwood will host a screening of the documentary Chasing Coral, in which divers, photographers and scientists set out on an ocean adventure to discover why reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world (see the trailer). A discussion of the documentary will follow with information about the Flower Gardens Banks National Marine Sanctuary. The event will be held in the Student Conference Center Building, Rooms CC 104 and 106.For more information, visit events.lonestar.edu.

Houston Interfaith Thanksgiving Service: The Network of Life

On Nov. 21, 2019, beginning at 7 p.m., the Rothko Chapel will present the 35th Annual Houston Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, with the theme “The Network of Life,” a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living things: humans, animals, plants, natural elements, and our responsibility to be good stewards for each other and for future generations. This year’s service will be held at Covenant Church, 4949 Caroline St. For more information, visit rothkochapel.org.

The Changing Landscape of Energy Production and Use

On Nov. 21, 2019, from 7-8 p.m., The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. will host a lecture by Robert L. Jones, of the Conroe chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, who will take an historical look at energy sources and uses in the United States and review the economic and environmental characteristics of the various energy-producing technologies. He will also delve into how electric utilities, industries and businesses are changing their strategies to accommodate environmental issues, including an increasingly carbon-constrained economy. The event will be held at the offices of the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC). For more information, visit thewoodlandsgreen.org.

2019 Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST)

From Nov. 21,-23, the Science Teachers Association of Texas will hold its annual conference at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. With more than more than 5,000 educators and science advocates attending, CAST is  one of the nation’s premier science education conferences. For more information, visit statweb.org.  

University Pedestrian Bridge ribbon-cutting

On Nov. 22, 2019, from 9:30-11 a.m., the Houston Parks Board will hold a ceremony marking the ribbon-cutting for the new University Pedestrian Bridge and BCycle’s 100th bike share station in MacGregor Park. As part of Bayou Greenways 2020, the new University Pedestrian Bridge serves as an important connection between the University of Houston to MacGregor Park. For more information, visit houstonparksboard.org.

TV: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Broadcast on KUHT Channel 8 at 3 p.m. each Saturday and on municipal access cable channels in Baytown, Deer Park, Houston, Texas City, Galveston, Nassau Bay, Pasadena, Seabrook, Sugar Land, and on HCC TV. More info on the TPWD website (* indicates a segment about the Houston area). For a preview, visit TPWD’s YouTube Page.

  • Bird-enthusiasts in the Rio Grande Valley are turning their attention to a bird with a strong personality about which researchers know very little: the Red-Crowned Parrot
  • Teaching the teachers is the focus of the Regional Interpretive Specialists Team
  • In 2005 news of the extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker being found in the woods of Arkansas electrified the birding community. Now a team is searching for the elusive Ivory Billed here in Texas

Additional Upcoming Events