Resources come in many forms – including some that are headed for a landfill. Collaborating to utilize resources can create healthy habitats, recreation opportunities, cost savings, and even mitigate storm risks! Learn more in our Treasure from Trash panel below with their presentations from the 2019 Conservation Wrangler Summit.
2019 Conservation Wrangler – Oyster Shell Recycling Program
Michael Niebuhr, Habitat Restoration Coordinator at Galveston Bay Foundation, presented on the “Treasure from Trash” Panel where he focused on the Oyster Shell Recycling Program.
Galveston Bay is the largest provider of oysters on the Texas Coast and oysters are extremely important to the bay, contributing millions to the area economy. Unfortunately, 85% of the world’s oyster reefs have been lost and 50% of Galveston Bay’s oyster reefs have been lost. To combat this issue, the Galveston Bay Foundation started the Oyster Shell Recycling Program in 2011. GBF collects shucked oyster shells from local seafood restaurants and returns them to the bay through reef enhancement and reef creation projects. In 2020 GBF has plans to expand into Houston. There will be a Houston Oyster Festival benefiting the program on April 4, 2020.
Learn more about GBF and the Oyster Shell Recycling Program here.
2019 Conservation Wrangler – Rio Grande Valley Reef Restoration
Gary Glick, President of Friends of RGV Reef, presented on the “Treasure from Trash” Panel where he focused on Rio Grande Valley Reef Restoration.
Off the Texas Coast in the Rio Grande Valley, fish populations have been decreasing for decades largely due to habitat degradation. Habitat is especially limited for guppies and younger fish, which are important to ocean ecosystems. Friends of RGV Reef, a nonprofit formed to help solve this issue, uses cinderblocks and railroad ties to create complex reef structures that young fish can thrive in. In areas where these structures have been deployed, there has been notable increase in juvenile fish, particularly red snapper. Friends of RGV Reef plans to continue reef construction using creatively and economically sourced materials until populations are stabilized.
Learn more about Friends of RGV Reef and Rio Grande Valley Reef Restoration here.
Repurpose with Purpose
Megan Lee, Senior Manager of Community Outreach at Southwest Airlines, presented on the “Treasure from Trash” Panel where she focused on their Repurpose with Purpose project.
In 2014, Southwest Airlines re-upholstered their aircraft to replace old leather with newer, lighter leather that would increase fuel efficiency. Rather than send the scrap to the landfill, Southwest then redistributed the old leather to small business or other countries where it could be repurposed into goods such as shoes, bags, and soccer balls. Southwest currently has 5 partners and has repurposed over 1 million pounds of seat covers since 2016. Future plans for Southwest are to sustain and grow the program, find additional partnerships, increase operational environmental efficiencies, create a market for the products, and address other areas of waste.
Learn more about Southwest Airlines here.
Learn more about Repurpose with Purpose here.
These speakers sat down to take questions from the audience. Watch the panel below.