Going Green - There's an App for That

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Going Green -

There’s an App for That

mobile phone app


Technology is often thought of as time-saving, convenient, and sometimes just plain fun, but your smart phone is also a powerful tool for conservation and smarter choices. Digital news, books, and e-mails all cut down on paper usage, but they also reduce waste and emissions from manufacturing and transportation. New technology lets you control your thermostat or sprinkler system from your smart phone, which conserves energy and water, and popular websites have opened up a global marketplace for selling and buying used goods. These technologies, when combined with mobile applications, provide resources and knowledge that allow you to better Take Care of Texas in the palm of your hand. There are many green apps available through the EPA website, but here are a few others.

paper karma

Consumers receive almost 4 million tons of junk mail each year. Cut down on unwanted catalogs with PaperKarma. Simply take a picture of the catalog address label, submit it through the app, and they remove you from the catalog’s mailing list.

Do you ever stand in the aisle not knowing which soap or coffee to buy? Let GoodGuide help you choose the more environmentally friendly products. Use your phone to scan the barcode of an item, and see how it scores against other products of its kind. Main product categories are personal care, household chemicals, and food products, but the app also includes kids’ items and pet food.

recycle app

Each Texan generates about 6.4 pounds of garbage every day! By recycling paper, metal, plastic, and other materials, you can not only reduce waste but help conserve water and energy. Find local, convenient recycling opportunities on-the-go with iRecycle, brought to you by Earth911. iRecycle lets you sort over 350 materials and gives you the recycling center's or store’s phone number, hours, address, website, and list of accepted materials. Just click on the address and go.

Explore the great outdoors with Project Noah. This app provides a tool to explore and identify plants, birds, and mammals while outside in Texas parks and gardens. Document your findings, read local spottings, or join a mission. Project Noah is one of many smart phone apps you can find on the Texas Master Naturalist website.

road cents

Checking your tire pressure, replacing air filters, and changing oil all help reduce your car’s emissions, but they also save you money. Roadcents from Drive Clean Texas is a web app that allows drivers to calculate their per-mile driving cost based on driving habits, maintenance history, road conditions, and miles driven.

Take Care of Texas does not endorse any of these mobile or web applications and only gives them as examples of how technology can encourage recycling and conservation.


Know of a great environmental project?

teea flower

 The State of Texas is seeking applications for the Texas Environmental Excellence Awards (TEEA), the highest environmental honor in the state. The awards recognize outstanding environmental projects in nine diverse categories from all over Texas. Apply now! The deadline has been extended to Oct. 10, 2014.


Recycle Leaves to Improve Your Yard

path of leaves

Leaves, grass clippings, and other yard debris make up 20 percent of the trash sent to landfills each year, and it costs Texans over $250 million a year to collect and dispose of yard waste. Instead of throwing them out with the garbage, try recycling leaves. You can improve your lawn and save money by reducing the need for water and fertilizer.

When mowing, leave a light covering of leaves on the lawn. They can act as a slow-release fertilizer to your lawn by recycling nutrients back into the grass and improving the top soil.

Shred the leaves, and use them as mulch. Apply a three to four inch layer of mulch around your trees, shrubs, and garden plants. For flower beds, two to three inches are ideal. Mulch reduces evaporation, prevents erosion, controls weeds, and enriches soil.

Recycle leaves, grass clippings, weeds, and small prunings by composting them. Compost can serve as a soil conditioner that nourishes your yard and reduces the need for outdoor watering up to 60 percent.

Leaves may also be collected and worked directly into garden and flower beds to improve soil. Depending on the type of soil, tilled leaves can improve aeration and drainage or improve water and nutrient holding capacity.


Carve Out an Eco-friendly Halloween

pumpkin seeds
  • After carving a jack-o-lantern, use the pumpkin scraps in breads, pies, or soups. You can also roast pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack. Try them salty, spicy, or sweet. You only need 15 minutes.
  • Make your own costumes. Reuse clothing and accessories around the house, or visit thrift stores. The options are limitless!
  • Trick-or-Treat with reusable bags or pillow cases that don’t get discarded after one use. They are better for the environment plus sturdier to hold all that candy.
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How to Build a Rain Barrel

neil video edited

 With large sections of the state experiencing extreme drought, it is crucial that Texans do their part to conserve water. Homeowners and landowners can build simple or complex systems to capture, store, and use rainwater to water their landscape plants. Find detailed information in the free Rainwater Harvesting publication, and watch the NEW Take Care of Texas YouTube video to see how easy it is to build your own rain barrel.


When was the last time you saw a starry night?

stars outside

 Texas Parks and Wildlife recently launched the Dark Skies Program to raise awareness of light pollution – artificial light that is too bright, misdirected, or unwanted. Dark skies are important for health, wildlife, and quality of human life. Here in Texas, Copper Breaks State Park and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area are the best chances to see The Milky Way, Orion Nebula, or even Venus and Mars. Stargazing events in state parks will continue through the fall.  


Be on the lookout!


 Monarch butterflies, the Texas state insect, are starting to make the 2,000 mile journey from Canada to Mexico this time of year. One leg of the journey takes up to two months! Each Monarch only makes the trip once, though. They do not live long enough for more. So — no experience? And no GPS? Scientists still don’t know how the butterflies find their way. 


Event calendar:   

* Look for the Take Care of Texas booth at these events


Order FREE Take Care of Texas publications to get ready for your event, and visit the Recycles Day website for project ideas.

native plant week 2014

Celebrate the beauty of Texas during Texas Native Plant Week! You can save water and money by planting drought-tolerant native plants. Visit Texas Native Plant Week  or Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for more information.