...your guide to a healthy Earth
Welcome to GBF's Green Thing page. The Green Thing provides weekly tips that you can use to protect Galveston Bay - at your home, in your office, or when you are out and about. Not only can you protect our local environment by using the Green Thing tips, many can save you money! For more information about the Green Thing tips, please contact Scott Jones at (281) 332-3381 x 209 or e-mail email@example.com.
GBF would like to thank wiredin.cc for helping bring you the Green Thing! Note: you can sign up at the bottom of wiredin.cc's home page to receive their free eTalk of the Bay electronic newsletter that includes the weekly Green Thing tip as well as bay area community news and events.
Green Tip for the Week of June 17, 2013
Don't Mow Too Low to Save Your Lawn and Lower Your Water Bill!
Summer officially arrives on Friday, and soon you may see your lawn exhibiting that familiar stressed, wilted look as the days get hotter and the rains decrease. You can prevent that from happening by changing how you maintain your lawn. Here are some tips that will reduce the stress on your grass and the amount of water it needs:
First, do not mow your grass too low. Grass that is mowed at the proper height has a healthier root system and uses less water than a lawn that is cut close to the ground. Set your mower to the recommended heights referred to below, or even higher.
Second, do cut off too much at each cutting. Mow often enough so that you do not cut off any more than 1/3 of the grass length to ease stress during our hot summers.
Third, don’t bag your grass clippings; leave them on the lawn. You’ll allow nature to work by recycling nutrients that are released as the clippings decay back to the earth and build healthy soil. This is much more aesthetically pleasing if you do not mow too low and easiest if you use a mulching mower.
In addition to using less water, healthy grass needs less fertilizer, insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Bottom line, you spend less money and prevent harmful pollutants from running off your lawn and into our waterways by not mowing too low! Find out how low to mow different types of grass and other helpful hints using these links:
- Texas Coastal Watershed Program's WaterSmart Landscapes for the Upper Texas Gulf Coast - Lawn.
- Texas A&M University Turfgrass Program's Turf Answers 4 You - Mowing.
If someone else maintains your yard, please have them follow these guidelines.
Green Tip for the Week of June 10, 2013
How to Dispose of Medicines in a Green Way
There is a growing problem of medications getting into our wastewater after it is flushed down the toilet or dumped into a sink drain. These drugs are not treated at our sewage treatment plants. As a result, they can affect the water quality of our rivers, bayous, and the bay. Throughout the nation, we are seeing some disturbing changes in populations of fish, amphibians, and other aquatic species. These medications can wind up in our drinking water supply as well.
You can help! Don’t dispose of your medicines in the toilet or drain unless the disposal instructions on the container direct you to do so. Most medications can be safely discarded in the trash, but there are even better ways to deal with them. Click on the FDA’s disposal guide and Dispose my meds to learn how.
Green Tip for the Week of June 3, 2013
Do You Really Need that Lid and Straw?
When you are eating at a fast food place or other establishment that places lids on cups and straws in drinks, let them know you don't need either. All the lids and straws we use sure to add up! We can save on air and water pollution and landfill space if we cut down on our collective use. Every little bit you can do helps!
Green Tip for the Week of May 27, 2013
Do You Really Need that Bag?
We are all just used to having our purchased items placed in a plastic bag when we shop. If you are just getting one or two, or more, items you can easily hold, let the sales person know that you don’t need a bag. We could use so many less bags if we all did just that one little thing.
Green Tip for the Week of May 13, 2013
Coffee Grounds in the Compost Pile?
Did you know that coffee grounds and unbleached coffee filters can be placed in a compost pile. You can put a lot of other things that might otherwise go into the trash in a compost pile! Learn more by clicking on Mulching and Composting: A Take Care of Texas Guide.
Green Tip for the Week of May 6, 2013
Help Migratory Birds!
Saturday, May 11th is International Migratory Bird Day. The Galveston Bay area and the Upper Texas Coast is home to the highest numbers of birds during the Spring Migration. These birds are stopping in our area to rest and feed during their long trip from Mexico, Central and South America to points north. The birds are not only beautiful, but they are part of the ecosystem and are the source of millions of ecotourism dollars. Help take care of them, and our year-round resident birds, by providing some habitat in your own backyard: add native plants to your landscape to provide them food and shelter. Click here for some great examples from the Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston Chapter.
Green Tip for the Week of April 29, 2013
We Really Need to Talk About...Flushable Products
Did you know that flushing “flushable” products down the toilet, including feminine hygiene products, are bad for water quality and potentially bad for your wallet? Click on Networx’ How Bad for Plumbing are Disposable Wipes? to get the facts and save yourself from a big headache!.
Green Tip for the Week of April 22, 2013
What You Can Do for Earth Day!
April 22nd is Earth Day! A day to reflect on all our planet provides us – air, water, food, and quality of life. It is also a day to resolve to take action to do the little things you can do to protect it. The theme of Earth Day 2013 is The Face of Climate Change. Climate change is affecting all corners of the Earth. An example is rising sea levels which will ultimately change the location of the wetlands that are so crucial to Galveston Bay. You owe it to yourselves and your children to learn as much as you can about climate change and then take steps to reduce your own contributions to the problem. After all, reducing air pollution can also improve human and environmental health. Food for thought: Climate Change presentation by Katherine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University. More useful info is here.
Learn more about Earth Day 2013 by clicking here.
Green Tip for the Week of April15, 2013
Learn About Birds, Part 2!
Fishermen and boaters can learn about the birds they are likely to encounter while out on the bay with Breeding Birds of the Texas Coast: A Fisherman’s and Boater’s Bird Guide. Remember to Fish, Swim, and Play from 50 Yards Away!”
Green Tip for the Week of April 9, 2013
Learn About Birds at FeatherFest!
We can boast that the Galveston Bay area has the highest number of migratory birds in the nation! Not only are these visitors beautiful, they and our year-round resident birds are an incredibly important part of our ecosystem. Take part in Galveston FeatherFest 2013 from Thursday, April 11 through Sunday, April 14 to learn about them and see them for yourself! FeatherFest even has free live birds of prey shows on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! There’s no better way of gaining appreciation of the great Galveston Bay birding than by seeing them up close and personal.
For more information, click on http://www.galvestonfeatherfest.com/.
Green Tip for the Week of April 1, 2013
A More Earth-Friendly Cup of Joe!
If you drink coffee, you can choose to purchase a more environmentally-friendly product. You can find coffee that is organic and/or shade grown/bird -friendly, as well as a brand certified as being grown with fair trade practices/fair labor standards.
Organically-grown coffee can result in fewer pesticides and energy use to grow the crop, and therefore less air and water pollution. Shade-grown/bird-friendly coffee is grown in the understory of forests with more sustainable practices instead of on a large sun-grown plantation where the forest canopy has been removed. Shade-grown/bird-friendly coffee results in less habitat destruction, soil erosion, and water pollution. For more info, see http://www.coffeehabitat.com/.
Green Tip for the Week of March 25, 2013
Be Informed on Galveston Bay Issues
Please visit the Galveston Bay Foundation’s Advocacy webpage to learn about important issues facing the bay, from water quality to freshwater inflows to Superfund sites. Not only do we provide the latest information, we let you know how to get involved in the discussion and solutions to challenges facing the bay, including reporting spills and dumping. Click here to go to the page.
Green Tip for the Week of March 18, 2013
Fix a Leak This Week!
It's so important that we are efficient with our water use! Why? Because Galveston Bay is an estuary that depends on fresh water to mix with the salt water from the Gulf of Mexico! Also, if we were more efficient with our water use, we would not need to build as many reservoirs that destroy extremely valuable river and bottomland habitat.
You can do something easy to help keep the water flowing in our rivers, and not down the drain. Take part in the WaterSense Program's 'Fix a Leak Week' during March 18-24. It's easy to practice water efficiency; instructions are included! Click on EPA's WaterSense website to find out how!
Green Tip for the Week of March 11, 2013
How to Deal With Dog Poop!
Please clean up after your pet! Pet waste contains bacteria that runs off of our lawns and streets during rainstorms and contributes to pollution of area waterways, making them unsuitable for swimming and other forms of contact recreation. Pet waste can also add excess nutrients to the water, causing overgrowth of algae which leads to fish kills.
It's best to pick up after your pets as soon as possible, especially when you are walking them. For your own backyard, try this: (1) buy a small galvanized waste can with a lid and a big enough diameter for your pet scooper or shovel width to fit, (2) place a layer of cat litter in the bottom and/or place a plastic liner in it (try to reuse other plastic bags before buying new ones just for this purpose), (3) pick up your pet's wastes daily and drop it into the container, and (4) weekly or every two weeks place the contents of the small container into the larger bag with your outgoing trash.
This way you can manage the pet wastes and keep from adding too much more plastic to the waste stream. If you can get by without using a liner in the small container, all the better! For more info, see H-GAC's Pet Waste webpage.
Green Tip for the Week of March 4, 2013
Have a Green Spring Break!
Are you making plans for the kids’ spring break? Are you staying close to home? Perfect. Take them to one or more of our many wonderful local nature centers, preserves, state and local parks, or wildlife refuges. Places to see and things to do:
- Armand Bayou Nature Center
- Baytown Nature Center
- Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center
- Hana & Arthur Ginzbarg Nature Discovery Center
- Harris County Precinct One Challenger Seven Memorial Park
- Harris County Precinct Four Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens
- Houston Arboretum and Nature Center
- Houston Audubon Society Sanctuaries
- SCENIC GALVESTON, Inc. Preserves
- Sims Bayou Urban Nature Center
- Galveston Island State Park
- San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Park – Marsh Restoration and Boardwalk
- Sheldon Lake State Park & Environmental Learning Center
Wildlife Refuges and Wildlife Management Areas
Green Tip for the Week of February 25, 2013
Vote Now for City of Houston's One Bin for All!
The City of Houston is one of 20 national finalists to receive a grant to help implement a program that makes it easy for you to recycle just about everything in your trash bin at the curb, called One Bin for All. Help them win by voting now! Not only is it easy on you, it create jobs, and it’s great for the environment! Click here to see to learn more and then click the link inside see City of Houston’s video about One Bin for All and to vote. It’s video number 7. Voting ends March 6th! You can also check out::
Green Tip for the Week of February 18, 2013
Don't Add Mulch Until Your Perennials Are up!
It’s a great thing to add mulch to your flower beds and around trees and shrubs. It conserves water and moderates soil temperatures. But if you are thinking of adding a new layer, wait until your perennial plants have sprouted back up. For more information, see:
- Texas Coastal Watershed Program's WaterSmart Landscapes for the Upper Texas Coast - click on Mulching.
- National Wildlife Federation's Garden in an Environmentally Friendly Way
- Do It Yourself - Mulching
- Aggie Horticulture - Mulches
Green Tip for the Week of February 11, 2013
Don't Let Water Runoff!
When watering your yard, please make sure that water is not running off of it and down the gutter. Save our precious water and lower your water bill by watering only when needed, and for only as long as needed. Click on U.S. EPA’s WaterSense Watering Tips and TCEQ’s Take Care of Texas to learn more.
Green Tip for the Week of February 4, 2013
Make Plans to Help a Local Gem! Clear Creek Clean Up!
If you aren’t already helping remove abandoned crab traps, please make to stay local on February 16th and participate in the 14th Annual Clear Creek Clean Up from 8am-4pm. Volunteers will gather at the FM 270 boat ramp on Clear Creek in League City.
Click here to learn more!
Green Tip for the Week of January 21, 2013
Did You Remember to Turn Off Your Lawn Sprinklers?
Lawns don’t need water in the winter… They are dormant. Please help save precious water by turning off your lawn irrigation system.
Green Tip for the Week of January 14, 2013
Plan to Help Rebuild Brazoria County Sand Dunes This Weekend!
This weekend, please volunteer to help rebuild sand dunes at two Brazoria County beaches: Surfside Beach and Quintana Beach. Dunes Day will be held on January 19, 2013. At 9:00AM, volunteers will meet at and Stahlman Park in Surfside and Quintana Beach County Park to rebuild, restore and strengthen the dune line by staking Christmas trees to form a sand-catching barrier. There will be a lunch following the staking of the trees. For more information about the Dunes Day, call (979) 233-1461.
Green Tip for the Week of January 7, 2013
New Year's Resolution
Make a resolution to reduce negative impacts on Galveston Bay and the natural environment in 2013 by following our weekly Green Thing tips! Or better yet, increase your positive impacts! You are sure to find things you can do to help Galveston Bay directly or indirectly.
Green Tip for the Week of December 10, 2012
Take Part in Christmas Bird Counts!
Want to do something really fun this holiday season, get outside and help the environment? Take part in one of the National Audubon Society's 113th Annual Christmas Bird Counts in our area. You do not have to be an expert, but you will be able to work with them and learn more no matter your bird identification skill level. Many of the counts are kid-friendly! In some cases, you can even do counts in your own backyard!
How do the counts help the birds and the environment? The more we know about the population of our area birds the better idea we have of the state of their habitat, water quality, and general environmental quality.
The counts take place from December 14th through January 5th. For more information, click on Houston Audubon Society's Texas Christmas Bird Counts. Click on the 2012-2013 link for info on each site, including contacts so you can see whether they are kid-friendly.
Green Tip for the Week of December 3, 2012
The Drought is Back! So Water Less and Save More!
Moderate to severe drought conditions have returned to the Upper Texas Coast. Water conservation is always the right thing to do, but is now that much more important. Do your part by turning off your lawn irrigation system now. Lawns go dormant this time of year, anyway!
Green Tip for the Week of November 26, 2012
Cleaning Your Drains After the Holidays
Holiday cooking may have left you with partially clogged or foul-smelling drains. The extra grease and oils from Thanksgiving meals may be part of the cause. Try a natural approach to keeping your drains clean. Doing so may prevent headaches or costly repairs and helps keep our public sewers from overflowing.
Make a home-made drain cleaner with natural ingredients such as baking powder, vinegar, and salt. Click on the following links for the recipes and more info:
- Howstuffworks.com’s How to Unclog a Drain
- TCEQ’s Reducing Fats, Oils, and Grease in Your Home or Apartment
Green Tip for the Week of November 19, 2012
Give Thanks for the Environment with an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving!
Give thanks for Galveston Bay and the environment by celebrating an eco-friendly Thanksgiving. There are easy, sustainability-minded things you can do that will lessen your footprint on the planet as you feast! What can you do to have a green Thanksgiving? Click on About.com’s Top 10 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving.
Green Tip for the Week of November 12, 2012
Celebrate America Recycles Day!
This Wednesday, November 15th is America Recycles Day. Take part at events in the Houston-Galveston area, and celebrate everyday by practicing the Four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, and rebuy. For more information, go to the America Recycles Day webpage.
Green Tip for the Week of November 5, 2012
Heating and Cooling: How to Program Your Thermostat
Save money and energy and help the environment at the same time by heating and cooling your home efficiently. Programmable thermostats can help. Make sure you set it correctly. You can also set your manual thermostat to get these benefits. Learn more by clicking on Energy Star’s Programmable Thermostats.
Green Tip for the Week of October 29, 2012
Have a Green Halloween!
Don't play a trick on the environment this Halloween! You can have an environmentally-friendly Halloween by being choosy about items you make or buy for this holiday, following the principles of the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and rebuy.
What can you do to have a green Halloween?
- Substitute reusable cloth bags or pillow cases for children's plastic Halloween bags or reuse bags you already have on hand.
- Buy treats with as little packaging as possible; give simple treats that have paper wrappers if possible.
- Make your own costumes out of used clothing.
- Compost your pumpkin.
- Click on About.com's Green Halloween Tips to learn more! Please do your part!
Green Tip for the Week of October 22, 2012
Galveston County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event
Galveston County residents can take advantage of a FREE household hazardous waste (HHW) collection event to be held this Saturday, October 27th at Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque. HHW should never be thrown in the trash due to the toxic nature of the materials contained in it. Examples of household products that contain potentially toxic materials are kitchen and bathroom cleansers, paints and stains, automotive lubricants, electronics pesticides, and fertilizers. They should only be disposed of at an authorized event or a permanent HHW collection site.
Click here to see the event flyer!
Green Tip for the Week of October 15, 2012
Celebrate Texas Native Plant Week!
Celebrate Texas Native Plant Week by planting native varieties now! Fall is the best time to place many native plants in your garden. Native plants are beautiful and hardy, Galveston Bay- and wildlife-friendly, and can save you money! Natives are adapted to our extreme weather and insect and fungal pests. So you will not have to water them once established nor apply expensive and potentially polluting pesticides and fungicides. And native plants provide food and shelter for a host of colorful and melodic birds; beneficial insects such as butterflies, dragon flies, bees; and small animals like lizards and frogs.
Click on the links to learn more:
- Texas Native Plant Week
- Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) - Houston Chapter
- Houston NPSOT's Information Pages ...includes where to find native plants! (pdf)
- YouTube’s Planting Wildflower Seeds
- YouTube’s How to Prepare Soil for a Wildflower Garden
Green Tip for the Week of September 24, 2012
Is It Safe to Eat Fish and Shellfish from Galveston Bay?
We are often asked whether it is safe to eat fish, shrimp, crabs, and oysters caught in Galveston Bay. The short answer is yes, but with some important exceptions depending are where the seafood is harvested.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) has issued seafood consumption advisories in the Galveston Bay area due to the presence of toxic materials such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the edible portions of some fish and crabs. It can be a little confusing, but the bottom line is that speckled trout and all catfish species have advisories on them bay-wide. Once you get to Upper Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel/San Jacinto River downstream of Lynchburg Ferry, you can add blue crab to the speckled trout and catfish. Once you get upstream of Lynchburg Ferry, you can add all other species of fish to the speckled trout, catfish, and blue crab.
TDSHS recommends that children under 12 and women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant should not eat any of the species listed in these areas. All other persons should eat no more than 8 ounces per month of the species listed in the areas noted above.
Also, in Clear Creek upstream of Clear Lake, TDSHS recommends that all persons not eat any amount of any species fish due to the presence of PCBs.
There are no TDSHS seafood consumption advisories on shrimp, oysters, or on fish other than those species listed in the areas noted above. However, the harvest of molluscan shellfish (oysters, clams, and mussels) is illegal in prohibited areas that are in proximity to potential sources of sewage pollution. For example, the Houston Ship Channel/San Jacinto River upstream of Morgan’s Point is a prohibited molluscan shellfish harvest area.
Be informed! See maps and complete details on our seafood consumption advisory webpage at http://galvbay.org/advocacy_seafood.html. And, you can find more info on molluscan shellfish harvest areas on the TDSHS webpage.
Green Tip for the Week of September 17, 2012
Make Plans to Attend the Adopt-a-Beach Cleanup!
The Texas General Land Office’s Fall Adopt-a-Beach Cleanup will be held on Saturday, September 22nd from 9:00am-12:00 noon at locations all along the Texas coast, including six locations in the Houston-Galveston region. You can help clean a beach, a bay shore, or a bayou shoreline. Find out more at GLO’s Adopt-a-Beach webpage.
Green Tip for the Week of September 10, 2012
Celebrate National Estruaries Day!
Galveston Bay is an estuary, a place where freshwaters from our rivers and bayous meet the salty water of the Gulf of Mexico. National Estuaries Day is last Saturday in September, so plan to celebrate Galveston Bay by volunteering to help plant marsh grass on September 29th! How else can you celebrate National Estuaries Day?
- Become a member of the Galveston Bay Foundation.
- Visit estuaries.gov where you can learn all about Estuaries Day and things you can do to help protect estuaries.
- Get out and enjoy the bay with your friends and family! Look for dolphins while you ride the Bolivar Ferry; visit a park or wildlife refuge; enjoy a Galveston Bay fresh seafood meal.
Green Tip for the Week of September 3, 2012
Free Water from Your Air Conditioner!
Collect the condensate water draining from your home air conditioner. Just place a bucket beneath the drain or hose coming from your system; you’ll see it dripping with the air conditioner is running. You may be surprised how much water is produced – anywhere from a gallon to tens of gallons a day. Use it to water your plants! Note: This water is not potable and is not for human or pet drinking purposes!
For more information, click on the following links:
- Alliance for Water Efficiency
- DIY Network Using Air Conditioner Condensation
- iVillage Garden Web Frugal Gardening Forum Recycling air conditioner condensate
Green Tip for the Week of August 27, 2012
Be Aware of Seafood Consumption Advisories!
While Galveston Bay is an outstanding place to fish, you need to be aware of seafood consumption advisories that do exist and follow them to reduce risks to your health from the presence of pollutants.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a seafood consumption advisory for all species of fish and blue crab in parts of the Houston Ship Channel and San Jacinto River. An advisory for all species of fish also exists in Clear Creek upstream of Clear Lake. Other parts of the bay system have advisories, but for a lesser number of species. This is not a ban on the possession and consumption of fish, but everyone should follow the health department’s advice, especially children and women who are pregnant, can become pregnant, or are nursing.
Be informed! See our seafood consumption advisory webpage at http://galvbay.org/advocacy_seafood.html.
Green Tip for the Week of August 20, 2012
Garbage Disposal Tip to Keep Our Bay Clean
Please minimize your use of the garbage disposal so you do not accidently contribute to sewer overflows. Instead of putting vegetables and fruits down the disposal, compost them or throw them in the trash. Place non-compostable items like meat in the trash. And never place any fats, oils or grease (FOG) in the disposal or any other drain; they can cause clogs in your plumbing or in sewer lines and lead to overflows of untreated sewage that drain to the bay.
Green Tip for the Week of August 6, 2012
Flooding and Hurricane Preparation: Recycle or Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste
Flooding due to summer storms or hurricanes can wash household hazardous wastes (HHW) into our waterways and the bay. Items such as paints and stains, automotive lubricants, pesticides, and fertilizers can ultimately harm both fish & wildlife resources and people. Please take stock of your HHW and recycle or properly dispose of those that you do not plan to use. Take them to a permanent HHW collection center or keep them in a safe, dry location until a collection day is available in your area. Check the following resources to learn more about HHW and find collection locations: