Houston Environmental News Update June 30, 2021

Plastic Free July-EcoChallenge, Plastic Pickup Challenge, ESCH Business Planning for nonprofits, Tour de BCycle, TRI Tools for communities, CCL Chapter Meeting, Green Jobs and more

One small change. That’s all you have to do to participate in Plastic Free July. Collectively, each of us making one small change can make a difference for our community. But aim higher.

Hopefully, you’ve already made changes to eliminate some of the more obvious plastic faux pas:

  • Plastic straws.
  • Single use water bottles. 
  • The plastic bag for a bunch of bananas at the grocery store. Ew.
  • All the other plastic bags at the grocery store.
  • Plastic bags in your recycle bin. Or putting recyclables inside a plastic bag which you then put in the recycle bin. Double Ew.
  • To-go coffee cups–and other to-go containers, especially single use (now that it’s easier to avoid takeout with restaurants opening up). 

If you are looking for your next challenge, check out plasticfreejuly.org for suggestions, and sign up for your personal challenge.

If you are the competitive type or want to be part of a group, join one of the local teams participating in the Plastic Free EcoChallenge, such as the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston, Lutherans Restoring Creation – Gulf Coast, or TRP Energy.

Another notable local challenge is the Plastic Pickup Challenge for this year. Attend a cleanup–or host a cleanup–in partnership with local Partners in Litter Prevention between July 19 and July 25 (or anytime, really). 

In case you missed it, here are some of the mostly local plastic debris resources that we shared in our May 19, 2021, newsletter, most of which are also coordinators for the Plastic Pickup Challenge:


Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers

Engage your students with lessons outdoors. Over 30 workshops are in the regional summer professional development calendar to connect you with local resources. Sign up today at hereinhouston.org.

Breaking Through – How to Build A Strong, Sustainable Nonprofit

Presented by the Executive Service Corps of Houston and Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Breaking Through – How to Build A Strong, Sustainable Nonprofit is a free, robust, six-month business training program for nonprofit organizations with a multifaceted approach including workshops, mentoring/coaching, and development of of a business plan. Topics covered include governance, financial management, marketing and branding, fundraising, volunteers, insurance, IT, HR, and disaster planning. Application deadline July 6, 2021, for a July program start date. Special consideration given to CEC’s member and partner organizations. Download the flyer and simple application.

Montopolis: The Living Coast – Save the Date

We are excited to announce that The Living Coast event, planned for last year but postponed, has been rescheduled for Sep. 18, 2021, at MATCH. The Living Coast performance combines original music, live narration, and cinematic images of the Texas gulf coast.  Surfers and sailors, shrimpers and oilmen, poets and scientists all share their stories about this complicated region of serene beauty, vast industry, and incredible contradictions. Save the date! More details soon.

Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.


Draft Metropolitan Houston Watershed Assessment released

The Galveston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is completing a Watershed Assessment with specific focus on flood risk management efforts within the Metropolitan Houston Region. This draft assessment documents initial analyses conducted by the project delivery team and presents preliminary conclusions and recommendations to achieve greater risk reduction and resiliency through agency coordination and strategic actions. The final assessment will incorporate public, agency and technical comment to provide final recommendations. Find the draft assessment at usace.army.mil.


We have endeavored to confirm the opportunities listed below. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts, particularly in light of concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

H-GAC’s Regional Conservation Framework earns national recognition

The Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Regional Conservation Framework has been honored with a General Achievement and Leadership Award by the National Association of Regional Councils. The award was presented to H-GAC on June 16 at a virtual ceremony held at the association’s annual conference and exhibition. The Regional Conservation Framework has been hailed as a milestone toward a coordinated, comprehensive approach in protecting and preserving the Houston-Galveston region’s unique ecological landscape. It outlines three key strategies – leverage, support, and fund – to strengthen conservation efforts by local governments, community partners, and stakeholders. A resolution of support for the framework was unanimously adopted by the H-GAC Board of Directors in
March 2021. Learn more by reading the press release.

Plastic Free EcoChallenge

Throughout July, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston invites you to join its team n the Plastic Free EcoChallenge. Plastic pollution now contaminates the deepest trenches in the ocean, high mountain peaks, and even the air we breathe. Plastic has entered the food chain, killing wildlife, and causing the average person to eat one credit card’s worth of plastic each week. During the Challenge, you select the challenges you’d like to accomplish during the month and when/how you do them. If you have any questions, contact Lisa Brenskelle at gcs.lrc@gmail.com.

54th Annual Keep Texas Beautiful Conference

Through July 1, 2021, Keep Texas Beautiful is holding its 54th annual conference with the theme “Texas 2021: Leading sustainable transformations in our communities.” The virtual conference is an opportunity for community leaders across the state to come together to learn, educate and grow their networks and knowledge. the conference provides innovative keynotes, speakers, panels and sessions that tackle environmental topics like waste reduction, recycling education, and more. For more information and to register, visit ktb.org.

The Future of Global Energy

Through July 1, 2021, the Greater Houston Partnership and the Center for Houston’s Future will hold a conference titled “The Future of Global Energy” featuring industry leaders offering expert insight on the changing energy business. The Partnership will reveal its blueprint for how Houston can lead the global energy transition—leveraging the region’s knowledge and infrastructure in the energy and chemical sectors while providing new opportunities for the regional workforce, companies and capital to position Houston as a leading hub of new industrial innovation. For more information and to register, visit centerforhoustonsfuture.org.

Tour de BCycle 2021

From July 1-14, 2021, Houston BCycle is bringing back its Tour de BCycle for people with active BCycle memberships. The challenge: visit as many of Houston BCycle’s 128 stations as possible to win prizes and earn the envy of all. All riders receive the prize(s) listed as they achieve each Tour Stage. Find tour rules and a list of stations at houstonbcycle.com.

Exploration Green New Parking Lot Ribbon-Cutting

On July 3, 2021, from 9-11 a.m., the Exploration Green Conservancy and the Clear Lake Water Authority will host a ribbon-cutting event for the new parking lot on Diana Lane. The new parking lot at Exploration Green has been a high priority on the conservancy’s to-do list. The parking lot renovation has been a highly anticipated and much-needed improvement to Exploration Green. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Tools for Getting Chemical Release Data for Your Community

On July 8, 2021, from 1-2:30 p.m. CDT, the Environmental Protection Agency will offer a webinar overview of the Toxic Release Inventory program and a demonstration of the TRI Search and TRI Search Plus tools. The webinar wills also describe how a community group in South Carolina used TRI to inform their city’s comprehensive plan and identify areas where people may face increased health risks due to chemical releases. For more information and to register, visit abtassociates.webex.com.

Sierra Club meeting: Houston Heat Island Study and Mitigation Plans

On July 8, 2021, from 7:30-8:30 p.m., the Houston chapter of the Sierra Club will hold a virtual monthly meeting featuring Jaime González, Houston Healthy Cities Director for The Nature Conservancy in Texas, who will discuss urban heat, the community science heat mapping process, and the new H3AT coalition working to develop science, communications, policies, and interventions that fight heat in our city and county. For more information on how to attend, see the Meetup event.

CCL Houston Chapter Monthly Meeting

On July 10, 2021, from 10:30 a.m.-noon, the Houston chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby will hold its monthly meeting virtually. The agenda will include discussion on the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 2307), status reports on current projects, and next action steps that the CCL plans to take. To register, visit eventbrite.com.

Community Resilience to Climate Change: A Virtual Workshop for All Educators

From July 5-29, 2021, NOAA Planet Stewards, Artist Boat and the NOAA Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary invite all educators to join in an interdisciplinary 70 percent independent learning/self-paced virtual workshop; The event will focus on climate change impacts to human and natural communities, and the actions people can take to build resilience in light of these impacts. Topics include: how to address climate change controversy; climate change impacts to human health; environmental justice; sustainability in Gulf fisheries; and how coastal Texas ecosystems mitigate climate change. The workshop will include live panel discussions with scientists from NOAA, Environmental Defense Fund, Green Building Resource Center, and more. For more information and to register, visit artistboat.org.


On July 7, 2021, learn how to use the data from eeWORKS to back up the feel-good Environmental Education stories you hear about to support your work. Hear from researchers and learn about communications tools you can use to help you structure and evaluate programs, provide professional development, apply for funding opportunities, make the case for EE to policymakers, and more. eeWORKS is an initiative of the North American Association for Environmental Education that seeks to explore and address critical environmental education (EE)-related questions through research. Learn more and register at naaee.org.

THEA | Rice University Present: Uneven Runoff

On July 8, 2021, beginning at 6 p.m., Texas Health and Environmental Alliance and the Rice University School of Architecture will host a meeting with community leaders to discuss the Uneven RunOff Mapping Project, which brings spatial inequalities of local industrial pollution and flooding in Harris County into focus. Rice has gathered some open-source mapping datasets, looking at industrial development in Harris County over time, EPA toxic facilities over time, proximity to flood-prone neighborhoods, open ditch versus curb and gutter drainage, in which areas stormwater is likely to pond in a neighborhood. To register, visit zoom.us.

Summer Institute for Climate Change Education

EcoRise is leading a cohort of Houston-area educators to the Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, hosted by Climate Generation in partnership with NOAA’s Climate Program, and The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program. From July 28–30, 2021, participating educators will gain the skills, tools, and resources to teach climate change concepts and empower students in all subject areas, and receive ongoing support throughout the year. BIPOC teachers are highly encouraged to register to help increase representation in conversations about climate change. Find the full course description here, and register to join the Houston cohort here.

Houston Audubon announces Texas license plate benefiting bird conservation

Houston Audubon recently announced the launch its new conservation license plate which will raise money to protect birds and their habitat. The license plate, featuring an Eastern Meadowlark, is sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is available for purchase through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. $22 of each $30 plate fee collected will support Houston Audubon’s mission of bird conservation. Visit houstonaudubon.org/licenseplate for more information and to order.

Houston Audubon seeks partners for Bird Week cleanups

Does your organization want to participate in Houston Bird Week 2021. Bird Week was started in 2019 by Houston Audubon’s Young Professionals Advisory Council to celebrate Houston’s important role in the journey of billions of migratory and resident birds. From September 18 – 25, Houston Audubon and local conservation partners will host a week of virtual and in-person events centered around our region’s birds and wildlife – from bird walks and watch parties to educational talks, trivia, and more. If your organization is interested in joining Houston Bird Week and engaging and educating the public about conservation, send an email to birdweek@houstonaudubon.org. Find all the latest on Bird Week at houstonaudubon.org/birdweek.

Get Into Your Sanctuary” photo contest

In celebration of national Get Into Your Sanctuary activities from Aug. 2-8, 2021, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is hosting its annual photo contest. Through Labor Day, ONMS is accepting the public’s best photos of the National Marine Sanctuary System to help celebrate the beauty and importance of these special places, including Texas’s own Flower Garden Banks NMS. The categories are: Sanctuary Views, Sanctuary Life, Sanctuary Recreation, and Sanctuaries at Home. Winning photos will be featured in next year’s Earth Is Blue Magazine and on the Earth Is Blue social media campaign. For more information, including how to submit photos, visit sanctuaries.noaa.gov.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Photo Safari

The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is holding a Photo Safari Scavenger Hunt through July 26, 2021. No, you don’t have to go knocking door to door to find odd objects. Instead, they invite you to explore the sanctuary website for photos that match the clue list we’ll provide. They will post two clues a week for five weeks. Your mission is to find photos from our website that best represent those clues. At the end of the five weeks, they’ll also offer a bonus clue. That’s a total of 11 opportunities to win a tour of R/V MANTA, the sanctuary research vessel, Clues will be posted on the website, as well as on the Facebook and Twitter pages each week and you’ll have until July 26 to submit your photos for any or all of the clues.

Bill Gates Wrote “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.” Is It Any Good?

In the latest “Houston and Nature” podcast, Nivien Saleh with Houston environmental attorney Tom Campbell on the merits of Bill Gates’s climate change program outlined in his recent book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.” Listen to the first part of the interview at houstonnature.com.

Reminders about Ongoing Opportunities

Stephen F. Austin State University recently enrolled in the International Society of Sustainability Professionals partnership program. Students who enroll in a sustainability program automatically become members of ISSP and, through their SFA courses, interact with material that prepares them to test for Sustainability Excellence Associate status. For more information, visit sfasu.edu or email Bill Forbes, associate professor, at forbesw@sfasu.edu.

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.

  • Fires in Bastrop County threatened the already endangered Houston Toad population. Thanks to the efforts of Paul Crump and others, a captive breeding program was established to help boost population numbers
  • Without diversity, Texas Parks and Wildlife would not be adequately equipped to face the challenges of the future. Folks like Adriana Leiva are doing whatever they can to ensure that our agency is made of every kind of Texan, from every walk of life
  • Since so much of our land in Texas is privately owned, we have to work diligently with private land-owning citizens. Tom Heger and his team help landowners in Texas make smart choices for the rivers and streams running through their properties. This ensures clean water and healthy wildlife populations for all Texans
  • Texas is home to many threatened and endangered species. Meredith Longoria works with Texas landowners to help take care of these special creatures

Additional Upcoming Events

Check out the latest Green Jobs at cechouston.org/green-jobs/.