The Austin Chronicle

Eco Currents

Environmental Directory, Earth Day, and Trees. Oh My!

By Nora Ankrum, April 23, 2010, News

The seventh edition of the Austin Envi­ron­ment­al Direc­tory, four years in the making, hits shelves this week at more than 100 local businesses and agencies. Written and published by one-man eco-wonder Paul Rob­bins, the free guidebook covers environmental issues in Central Texas (including articles on synthetic fuels, alternative transportation, and zero-energy suburbs) and provides info on local products, services, and organizations. See

The city has been doing some spring greening this month: A recently passed resolution directs City Manager Marc Ott to develop an Invasive Species Management Plan for city-owned land, energy code amendments will increase energy-efficiency requirements for newly constructed homes beginning this summer, Solid Waste Services announced the launch of an "easier to navigate" website with "easier to find" info on recycling, and the mayor has announced a citywide composting program (see "City Announces Composting Program"). Let's see if the momentum continues through Earth Day (today, April 22) as council considers passage of Austin Energy's 2020 generation plan (see "Generation Plan's Day at the Dais").

Austin ISD got in on the composting action recently with the launch of a pilot composting program at four elementary schools, where students are learning to turn lunch scraps into healthy soil used for planting new trees on school grounds.

The Hornsby Bend Biosolids Manage­ment Plant received accolades this month from the Water Environment Association of Texas for its work transforming wastewater dregs into Dillo Dirt; the Davis Water Treatment Plant also received recognition for "exceptional systems operations."

Local enviro groups will join Friends of Barton Springs today (Thursday) for the sacred ritual of cleaning Barton Springs Pool; volunteers will work in shifts throughout the day.

Thanks to a piece of legislation passed last year, the state comptroller's office is studying strategies for reducing greenhouse gases while saving money. Christened "No Regrets" by Sen. Kirk Watson, who proposed the bill, the effort requires some help from you – send your cost-and-carbon-cutting ideas to so that the state has something to study in the first place.

Ready, set, go: The Films for the Forest challenge kicks off today, April 22, which means you have one week to concoct a short narrative, documentary, or public-service announcement related somehow to the theme "The Tree and I" – and then get it in the can by April 29 so the judges (including director Richard Linklater and Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith) can pick their favorites. See

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