Earth Month Part 4: Paint!

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

By Anna Dunbar

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

Storage

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

Think before you toss and try to donate it.

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

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

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

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

Take larger quantities of paint to Household Hazardous Waste Day.

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

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


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

Earth Month Part 3: Celebrating Earth Day in Wacotown

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

By Anna Dunbar

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

Origin of Earth Day

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

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

Earth Day Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Earth Month 2017 Part 2: Litter is Ugly!

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

By Anna Dunbar

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

Litter is ugly

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

We have met the enemy and he is us.

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

Litter and Its Impact on Our Water

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

What Can We Do?

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

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


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

 

 

 

 

Earth Month 2017 Part 1: Spring Cleaning and Greening

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

By Anna Dunbar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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