Spring Oaks Civic Association - Spring Branch, Houston, TX
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City of Houston Compostable Bag Program - And Its Alternatives

Posted by Grissett Alan (agrissett) on Mar 13 2010
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Starting April 5th, 2010, City of Houston residents who bag their yard clippings or leaves must use city-approved compostable bags. Grass clippings in the new compostable bags and other yard waste may be placed alongside your City of Houston garbage bin on our regular garbage and yard waste collection day, which is every Friday. The first date this will apply to Spring Oaks residents will be Friday, April 9th, 2010.

Please observe the following guidelines for grass clippings, leaves, and other yard waste:

  • Place compostable bags containing grass clippings or leaves 3-4 feet away from the City of Houston garbage bins.
  • Individual bags cannot weigh more than 50 lbs.
  • Use only compostable bags with City of Houston logo containing the wording, "City Approved."
  • Limbs cannot be more than 4 feet long.

The new compostable bags can be bought at many stores including Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc. Compostable bags are made from renewable resources that decompose naturally in a relatively short amount of time. Standard plastic bags can take over 100 years to completely disintegrate. Compostable bags start decomposing in as little as three (3) months and leave no harmful residue behind.

In addition to being less-harmful to the environment, the use of compostable bags will save City of Houston taxpayers $1.5 million to $2.0 million per year. By diverting this material from area landfills, the City anticipates saving at least $1.5 million dollars annually while preserving the environment and valuable landfill space. The Solid Waste Management Department will use avoided landfill costs to add more Houstonians to the Automated Recycling Program.

For residents who do not bag their grass clippings or leaves, another alternative is to mulch this material using a mulching mower. Newer models are capable of mulching grass and leaves into particles about the size of confetti. These particles are then easily broken down into soil, which then provides further nutrients for your grass. I personally mowed lawns for eight (8) years while I was in high school and college, and I used mulching mowers the entire time. I estimate that I did about 3,000 lawn mowings during that time among 20 - 25 customers. My customers almost never asked me to bag, because their lawns looked as good as the lawns of their neighbors who did bag their grass and leaves. In addition, my customers did not have to fertilize their lawns that often, because the nutrients in the grass and leaves were reabsorbed into the ground. In my opinion, it's also much easier to run the mulching mower over the lawn a few times than to repeatedly bend over to bag clippings and leaves and haul them to the curb.

Another alternative to bagging grass clippings and leaves is to start a compost pile in your backyard. A compost pile is simply a collection of organic material, such as grass clippings, leaves, or fruit and vegetable trimmings. Compost can be used to fertilize flower beds, feed vegetable gardens, and improve the composition of your soil. The compost pile should be churned frequently to ensure good airflow and move material from the outside of the pile to the inside to allow for more-even decomposition. For a good article on how to make compost, visit http://www.ehow.com/how_3541_begin-compost-pile.html

To learn more about the City of Houston Compostable Bag program, please visit http://www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/compostablebags.html

Alan Grissett
Publicity Committee Chairperson
Spring Oaks Civic Association

Last changed: Mar 14 2010 at 9:14 AM



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