Back-to-School News You Can Use

Having trouble viewing this email? Read the online version.

NYCU New Logo

The State of Texas has unveiled online resource for Deepwater Horizon recovery efforts. features links and background information on the three funding sources available, RESTORE (Resources & Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States), NFWF/GEBP (Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund) and NRDA (Natural Resource Damage Assessment).  The site also includes details associated with the state’s efforts to implement the RESTORE Act in Texas.  Use of these funds will facilitate efforts to sustain a coordinated and integrated approach to appropriately respond to various coastal needs, both environmentally and economically.

With passage of the federal RESTORE Act, funds will be made available to the five Gulf States, including Texas, from civil and administrative penalties assessed against responsible parties associated with the one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history... Continued in the TCEQ news release.  


Start Smart

back to school chalkboard

It doesn't matter whether starting school makes you excited or want to cringe, you have to get your books, paper, and pens ready. Shopping for brand new supplies can be fun, but many alternatives are better for the environment. As with any shopping, focus on how it’s made and what you do with it when you’re done.

  • Buy durable products like rechargeable batteries, reusable lunch bags, and thermoses
  • Choose items wrapped in minimal packaging or multi-packs
  • Reuse your own folders or back-sides of paper
  • Buy recycled notebooks and pens
  • Share or exchange books and games with friends

Fact: 42 notebooks made with 100 percent recycled paper save one tree.


Save files electronically and use projectors/blackboards to minimize paper. Create a school-supply exchange to encourage sharing and reusing. For more ideas, see the Texas School Recycling Guide and be sure to visit the kids’ section of the TCOT website for animated games and more resources. TCOT also offers FREE classroom resources such as activity books, posters, and bookmarks. Order these materials and the recycling guide here.


Computer Recycling

computer recycle

With spring graduations recently passed and back to school imminent for students across the state, many Texans may wonder what they can do with their older laptops and computers as they prepare to upgrade or replace older computers. Fortunately, the Texas Recycles Computers website provides options for recycling of your home computer at no charge. The easiest way to find out what you can do with your older used electronics is to search the website by brand. Have an old HP? Hewlett-Packard’s recycling program includes partnerships with Staples and FedEx Office for consumer computers to be dropped off at those store locations. Ready to upgrade your MacBook? You may be eligible for an Apple Store Gift Card if it is still in good working condition, or recycled otherwise.

The options do not stop at laptops and desktop computers – many tablet manufacturers are also listed on if you are looking to recycle your tablet computer.

Manufacturers have many options to provide consumers with resources: mail or email pre-paid shipping labels, provide drop-off locations at their stores or through partnerships with non-profits and other businesses. Check for their details.


Language of Recycling

Environmentally safe. Eco friendly. Claims like these sound great, but let’s face it: they’re too vague to be meaningful. Here are definitions to help you compare products.

reduce reuse


Recycled products are made with content that has been diverted from the trash either during the manufacturing process or after initial use. If a product says it’s made from recycled materials, look for specifics. Are the claims about the product, the packaging, or both? How much of the product or package is recycled?


A company can use the universal recycling symbol, or say a product is recyclable, if most people who buy it have the option to recycle it. However, you may not have those resources, so check your local government website for more information.

recycle bin


Something that’s biodegradable, like food or leaves, breaks down and decomposes into elements found in nature when it’s exposed to light, air, moisture, or other organisms. To claim a product is “biodegradable,” a company should have proof the product will completely break down and return to nature within a year. Because landfills shut out sunlight and moisture, paper and food can take decades to decompose, and most plastics won’t biodegrade even outside of a landfill.


Compost forms when you mix together things such as grass clippings, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and used tea bags. The mixture eventually breaks down and can be used to enrich soil and protect plants. If a product is labeled “compostable," all the materials in it should safely turn into usable compost in a home compost pile. If the product can be composted only at certain places, like a commercial facility, the advertising should say so.


Kids' Materials


Visit the Take Care of Texas website to order posters, activity books, and stickers for your classroom or neighborhood night out.


We are on Instagram!

Follow @takecareoftexas to learn environmental tips and participate in upcoming social media contests.


Be Wise When Using Water

 A majority of our water usage during the summer is outside. An average family’s water usage is 320 gallons per day but spikes up to 1,000 gallons during the summer months. Fifty percent of the water we use outdoors goes to waste though, from evaporation, wind, or runoff due to overwatering.


Do Your Part:

  • Inspect your irrigation system to make sure you’re watering the lawn, not the sidewalk or driveway. 
  • Consider using a drip irrigation system for plants and gardens, and water early in the morning to minimize evaporation.
  • Mow your lawn less often. Taller grass encourages deeper root growth, promotes a more drought-resistant lawn, and shades the soil which reduces evaporation.
  • Remember to always comply with your water system’s water-use restrictions.

Commute Solutions

Check out the cost calculator to see how much commuting costs you. Want to reduce that number? Ride a bike, carpool with friends, or commute in a more fuel-efficient car. Find more ways to Take Care of Texas while you’re out and about.

gas tank

Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive (LDPLI) Program:

A statewide program to provide financial incentives up to $2,500 for the purchase or lease of eligible new vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or electric drives (plug-in). Visit the program’s website for more info and to apply


2014 Water Quality and Stormwater Seminar

will be held September 16-17 at the DoubleTree Hotel in North Austin. The seminar will provide updates on permitting rules and upcoming regulations to an ever-changing customer base in the regulated community.

It will include presentations covering a wide range of topics including municipal wastewater permits, stormwater inspections, and Texas Surface Water Quality Standards.

Please see event website for more info and to register.


Backyard Basics

Texas A&M AgriLife extension offices host a variety of classes available to the public at no or low cost. The Backyard Basics class this month is "It’s Not Too Early to Start a Fall Garden". Different counties offer different classes, so check your local office.

Texas Master Gardener Conference

is September 25-27 in Odessa. Sessions include “Shady Natives," “Water Efficient Plants for Texas," and “Fruit Growing from A to Z."

Optional workshops teach you how to improve your drip irrigation system or build a gourd rainstick. Register now before prices go up on August 16, 2014.

"Follow Us'" or "Like Us" 


to learn about new materials and what we are doing across the state.