What can we do while curbside recycling and large waste removal services are suspended?Quite a lot, as it turns out.
Hurricane Harvey left a mountain of trash behind. Piles of debris line the streets in neighborhood after neighborhood, some of them taller than the rooftops. Not only is the trash unsightly, but these piles of wet drywall, carpets, furnishings, and household items are also smelly, and potentially even dangerous as experts warn of the mold and bacteria that have already begun to grow.
As you might imagine, the task of removing these piles of trash is monumental. For public health reasons, it is also extremely high priority for both state and local officials. The City of Houston hopes to complete the first pass of collection within 30 days. The full and final clean up, however, could take months and will require additional outside help from resources which are now being shared with Florida in places struck by Hurricane Irma.
For these reasons, for the indefinite present, all City of Houston curbside recycling and large waste removal services have been suspended in an effort to free up local resources for the task at hand. Regular trash pick-up, in the black canisters, will continue as usual.
But before you start chunking those milk cartons and cardboard boxes in the trash, know that there are other options. They just may take a little more effort.
What can we do with all of those recyclables in the meantime?
Remember when we used to collect soda cans and personally drive them to the recycling center? For a little while, things are going to be more like that.
There are six neighborhood depository and recycling centers around the city. To find the one closest to you, check with the solid waste management department’s website. For your convenience, these locations are operating with extended hours Monday through Sunday 8 am to 8 pm.
All recyclables must be pre-sorted before you take them to the center. Using separate containers for collection is an easy way to do this, separating plastics from glass from aluminum, and so on. Be sure to note that only plastic numbers #1, #5, and #7 are accepted.
Some other good things to know before showing up with your containers full of old magazines–you must have a valid I.D. with a local address and unloading is your responsibility, so you might consider bringing a friend. Organizing a neighborhood or school collection may also ease the burden and make it a little more fun.
From the website, here is a list of what is and what is not recyclable:
- Ad inserts
- Aerosol Cans
- Aluminum Cans
- Cartons – shelf stable and refrigerated
- Clothing and Shoes – Three (3) locations only:
º Neighborhood Depository & Recycling Center – 2240 Central
º Neighborhood Depository & Recycling Center – 9003 N. Main
º Westpark Recycling Center – 5900 Westpark
- Glass bottles and Jars
- Plastics #1-#5 and #7 (toys, packing materials, flower pots, styrofoam, or plastic furniture are not accepted)
- Steel cans
- Telephone Books
- Tin cans
- Up to five (5) automobile tires (Rims Not Accepted) per month, per household
Non-Acceptable Items include • Garbage • Dead Animals • Rocks, Dirt (inert Materials) and bricks • TVs and other electronics • Truck or Industrial tires • Paint and other household hazardous waste such as household chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides • Infectious Waste • Gasoline and other flammable materials/liquids • Acid Waste • Hazardous or Toxic waste • Explosives • Ashes or charcoal • LIQUIDS and other materials denied by the E.P.A. As hazardous • Burned wood • Pallets.
Large junk or tree waste may be taken to neighborhood depositories up to 4 times per month. Again, a valid I.D. with local address is required. Additionally, for depositories, you must have a current utility bill (electronic bills ok) with the same address as the one listed on I.D., or lease/rental agreement. Centers warn that you should plan ahead, as there could be long wait times.
You may choose to put off trimming trees and shrubbery unless it is absolutely necessary and you have the means of transport to one of the depositories. Wood piles attract mold, insects, and even snakes, and at this time no one can say for sure how long they will sit there.
The city is working hard to complete the flood cleanup and get these other services restored, but it may take a while. Until then, we can each do our part to help keep our city clean and green.
And let’s not forget that the first two tenets of recycling are reducing and reusing. I see a lot of Pinterest worthy ideas for decorating with wine bottles in our future.
For more Good Works