As of this week, the City of Houston will only pick up yard waste bagged in biodegradable bags. Those who continue to use plastic bags will be fined, up to $2,000!
The goal? Reducing landfill fees. Yard waste in the new bags will be sold to a private company for $5 a pound and turned into compost. The city will realize, it hopes, at least a $1.5M reduction in landfill costs every year.
At the same time, the Mayor has announced likely increases in water and sewer rates. The increase could mean 12.5% hikes for residential users, and perhaps as much as 50% for apartment-dwellers.
I know that the water rate increases have the potential to be burdensome for people living at the margins, so I wish there were a way to reduce the impact and not have water and sewer fees hit those people so hard. I’m not sure what that mechanism would look like.
I do know that at our humble abode, we’re fortunate that neither the expensive bags nor a water rate increase will hit us very hard. I just paid my water bill. If it had been subjected to a 12% increase, I would have paid a whopping $8.40 instead of the $7.50 I did pay.
I have to say, I’d be glad to pay more just to make certain that the toilet flushes every morning!
Are we really that low-flow at Casa Grill?
We shower, almost every day, and we run the washing machine and dishwasher regularly. But we have no grass, and therefore no sprinkler system. In fact, with the exception of hose-watering when we put in new citrus trees, you can count on one hand the number of times we water anything in our yard.
Because we’ve landscaped with natives and drought-tolerant plants, and, truthfully, because we have a pretty high threshold for just letting the yard be, we don’t have much use for the expensive biodegradable bags, either. Several times a year, we bag the leaves from the oaks and other trees, but for the most part, we let things be to compost in place.
At times, it doesn’t look so pretty. The freezing temperature this year really tore up the place. But now, as the wildflowers are opening and our butterfly-attracting vines are starting to bloom, our yard is much more likely to draw fascinated ooohs and aaaahs from the various kiddos who stroll by than the censure of our neighbors.
I have great sympathy for people living on fixed incomes who will be hit hard by water rates increase. I have no sympathy for people whose homes are surrounded by a moat of St. Augustine grass that requires regular watering, frequent clipping and bagging, and periodic chemical baths. At least rates are tied to usage, so I know they’ll be paying more to maintain their green badges of prosperity.