“Green” is everywhere these days—in the news, in the workplace, and on store shelves. So wherever I speak to audiences in this environmentally conscious climate, I get a lot of questions about recycling. I started collecting the questions that have stumped me, and then I went online to look for answers.
I live in Houston, as do many of my clients, so I started with the City of Houston recycling web site. What I found there was chaotic, inconsistent, full of confusing acronyms and ambiguities, and spread across a mind-numbing array of pages. I despaired of ever tracking down all the answers I needed. But the Clutter Fairy makes her living bringing order out of chaos, so I dug into the project of making sense of it all. My staff and I deconstructed a huge mass of information and rearranged it in what we hope you’ll find a user-friendly guide to recycling in Houston.
A special note to our readers elsewhere in Greater Houston: the City of Houston, Abitibi Consolidated, and H-E-B have created a partnership to offer recycling at 22 H‑E‑B grocery stores in the outlying areas. See the list of accepted materials and a map of participating locations (PDF).
In a previous newsletter, we promised a “comprehensive guide,” but I’ve since realized that the City of Houston is only the tip of the iceberg of recycling efforts in our region. The good news: There are more ways than ever to keep things out of our landfills and to safeguard the environment. We couldn’t cover them all here, but this is a solid start, and we plan to add more resources in the future.
I encourage you to think of recycling as one part of a larger strategy for eliminating clutter from your life, managing the waste you generate, and “greening” your lifestyle and the planet:
- Reduce: First and foremost, you can save time, storage space, and money by planning your purchases carefully. Don’t buy more than you need or more than you can store. Remember, it’s not a bargain if you have nowhere to put it when you get home. If you shop as a form of recreation, look all you want, try things on, handle them in the store, but don’t buy them!
- Reuse: Before you recycle or dispose of something that still has usefulness, consider giving it to a friend, family member, posting it on the Houston Freecycle™ Network Yahoo Group, or selling it on Craig’s List. Don’t fall into the cluttered recycler’s trap of thinking, “If it’s still useful, I have to keep it.” No, you don’t! If you want to be organized, find a way for someone else to benefit from whatever usefulness remains.
- Recycle: More materials than ever before are being accepted for recycling, and the increase in volume, along with improvements in technology, should continue to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of recycling processes. Check out our guide below for methods and facilities to recycle a wide variety of common materials.
- As a last resort, dispose of waste in a safe and appropriate fashion.
Editor’s note: We here at The Clutter Fairy are not infallible. If you discover any factual errors or important omissions, or if you find information that’s been updated since we prepared the guide, please let us know so we can update our data.
This article was featured in our December 2008 e-mail newsletter. To subscribe to our newsletter, please use the “Subscribe” form, above right.