One question we get over and over on our website or our telephone hot line (713-206-0558) is: “How can I get curbside recycling at my home”?  In most cases this is not something you personally can control.  In most cases it is the Home Owners Association (HOA) in your neighborhood that makes this decision.  About all you as an individual can do is go to an HOA meeting and make your wishes known.  Even then, at some point, the HOA board has decided on this matter.  They have probably signed a long term contract with a waste service provider that outlines the type of waste removal services every home in the “village” will receive.  Contracts, however, can be renegotiated.

Recycling has become a way of life in much of the world, in much of the US, and even here in much of Texas.  Do you know that all the large cities in Texas offer curbside recycling for their residents?  In some cities it is mandatory.  In most cities it is a service for which you have to pay.

Yes, just like a water bill, you get a trash bill.  The answer why recycling is spreading is simple.  Landfill space is filling up and no one wants the next landfill next door!  The other reason is that most commodities are becoming more expensive and scarce.  We simply can’t just afford to bury them in the landfill where they are lost forever. If they are recycled they can be used over and over again.  An aluminum can at the landfill is lost while one that is recycled can become part of the next airplane or Ford truck being built.

So, let’s look at what is happening in the Lake Houston area.  There are four major trash service providers in our area that specialize in residential services.  Waste Management is the giant in the industry.  Their green trucks are all over and their headquarters are in downtown Houston.  Another large giant in the industry is Republic Services.  Their trucks are generally blue.  A relatively small local company owned by a couple brothers is Best Trash.  They have chosen red as the color of their trucks.  These three are private for profit enterprises Mixed in some of our area is the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department.  Their trucks are mostly blue, too.

If you live inside the City of Houston, you have the right to have City of Houston trash and recycling services at no monthly cost to you.  Yes, that is a secret most people are not aware of. Your taxes pay for this service. Over twenty years ago when the City annexed Kingwood, they allowed each HOA to decide if they wanted City services or if they wanted to continue with their private service. At that time the City services were not as good as the private services, so most HOA’s decided to keep their existing private service.  The City agreed to subsidize those private services for $6.00 a month.  That arrangement still exists in most of the villages in Kingwood, although a few have opted now to have City of Houston service.  In most cases in addition to the six dollars the City pays your trash service provider, you also are billed another $40 to $60 a quarter by the company.  As stated earlier, if the City picks up your trash there is no charge.

The service the City does not offer is back door pick up and they pick up trash just once a week.   They do offer free large free roll out trash and recycling containers.  They also pick up green waste and send it to a composting yard while the private companies bury it at the landfill.

So, why don’t you have curbside recycling?  The simple answer is that your HOA has not contracted for it.  All service providers offer it but if you want to keep twice a week trash service and backdoor pick up, it will cost you more.  But the added cost is probably less than a bottle of wine or a few Starbucks. If you live in the City and are willing to live with less service but free recycling and free trash service you must make your wishes known to your HOA board.

Curbside recycling is easy!  We all like easy!  When an HOA decides to have it, almost everyone in the neighborhood participates.  Why not?  It is one small step you can take to save the earth! It makes you feel good! If they don’t have the service, most people choose easy again and that is the trash can!