Pine Brook is Houston's No. 1 recycler
I can't believe my neighborhood didn't win. In fact, we didn't even come all that close.
Clear Lake City's Pine Brook subdivision has been declared the best recycler in the city of Houston, and Keep Houston Beautiful is going to write a $1,000 check to the neighborhood association. As if Pinebrook didn't already have bigger houses and shadier trees over there, they have to be the most environmentally virtuous, too?
The second-place neighborhood, Westbury over near Chimney Rock in west Houston, will get a $500 check as part of the city's recycling contest, and $250 will go to third-place Oakbrook, another Clear Lake City neighborhood. Keep Houston Beautiful got the money for the prizes from a personal donation by Houston City Council member Peter Brown.
My neighborhood association, Pineloch, was the only one of the three Clear Lake City participants to miss out on the prizes for Houston's best recyclers. Eight neighborhoods in all were chosen for the city of Houston pilot program that allows residents to throw all their recyclables into a humongous green monster of a bin they're supposed to keep in their garages or backyards. Once every other week, it's just a matter of rolling that 96-gallon bin to the curb and a garbage truck with an automated arm scoops up your recyclables. No more sorting, no more trips to Ellington Airport to get rid of glass. Hoorah!
Prizes went to the pilot-program neighborhoods with the best participation, and it turns out that 76.3 percent of Pine Brook's households were diligent during the program's first six months. Westbury had 68.2 percent participation, and Oakbrook had 68.1 percent.
The reason I'm surprised Pineloch -- that's Bay Glen and Bay Knoll combined -- didn't do better than 62.3 percent is that I stuffed the ballot box! Well, actually I stuffed my neighbors' recycling bins.
You see, my family subscribes to three newspapers a day. If we didn't recycle, that would make us environmental criminals. Wracked with guilt, we recycle not only all those papers but also pretty darn nearly everything the city will take. We even recycle plastic peanut butter jars, which believe me take forever to wash out.
Our big black garbage can usually goes to the curb two-thirds empty, but our green recycling bin often fills up so I distribute the overflow to our neighbors' bins. (Hey, it's not like depositing your dog's poop in other people's trash cans while you're out on a walk, and I see lots of people do that.)
When I heard my neighborhood wasn't a winner, I worried that the city might drop us from the program, since we'd heard that apathetic subdivisions could lose the service. Besides the three winners, Meyerland did better than us with a 67 percent partipation rate, and only Lindale Park (52.6 percent), Old Sixth Ward (50 percent) and River Wood (31.3 percent) did worse.
But this morning the city of Houston's Daniel Santamaria assured me that no one at the city's ready to make those kind of decisions just yet -- in fact the city has added 20 more neighborhoods since beginning the program in March -- and he pointed out that our numbers are still decent.
On average, recycling in the neighborhoods that got the giant green bins went from 25 percent to 60 percent of households. Moreover, recyclers doubled the amount of trash they recycled, from 15 pounds to 33 pounds. Clear Lake as a whole followed the city average, Santamaria said.
By the way, in case you missed this post last week, the city of Houston plans a recycling day at Ellington Airport for computers and other electronics, Latex paint, packing peanuts, batteries and other hard-to-recycle items. Learn more from Ultimate Clear Lake.
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