calling all evergreens

City of Houston provides 24 recycle stations for Christmas tree drop off

Now that it's less merry and bright, do the right thing and recycle your tree with the city of Houston. Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

The holidays have come and gone, and the city of Houston is asking for you to recycle your Christmas trees.

But what to do with that live tree after the holidays celebrations are over? Tradition dictates that revelers can leave their yuletide tree up though January 6, 2023. But afterwards, dumping it with the front-yard trash is unceremonious and disrespectful. Better to recycle holiday tree — especially at one of the city's tree recycling centers that are now open.

The city of Houston's Solid Waste Management Department has opened 24 residential tree drop-off recycling locations throughout the area. Locals can take their live trees to one of these centers across the city, where they will be repurposed for mulch or other landscape materials.

This tree recycling program is part of the city of Houston for the 33rd annual tree mulching event.

Before depositing the tree or trees, be sure to remove all lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, stands, and other non-organic decorative materials. Importantly, artificial, flocked, or painted trees will not be accepted. Residents have until January 26, 2024 to donate holiday trees.

Below is a list of Christmas tree recycling locations, per ABC13 and the city of Houston.

Open daily 9 am to 6 pm

  • Memorial Park at the Softball Parking Lot: 6402 Arnot St.
  • T.C. Jester Park: 4200 T.C. Jester West
  • Ellington Airport Recycling: Hwy 3 & Brantley Road
  • Kingwood (Branch Library): Bens View Lane at Bens Branch Drive
  • Doss Park (gates close at 5 pm): 2500 Frick Rd.

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm

  • Central Neighborhood Depository: 2240 Central St.
  • Kirkpatrick Neighborhood Depository: 5565 Kirkpatrick
  • Sommermeyer Neighborhood Depository: 14400 Sommermeyer
  • N. Main Neighborhood Depository: 9003 North Main
  • Southwest Neighborhood Depository: 10785 Southwest Freeway
  • Sunbeam Neighborhood Depository: 5100 Sunbeam

Open Monday - Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm; closed Monday, Jan. 15, 2024

  • Westpark Consumer Recycling Center: 5900 Westpark

Open Monday to Friday 7 am to 5 pm and Saturday 7 am to noon; closed Monday, January 1, 2024

  • Living Earth: 5802 Crawford Rd.
  • Living Earth: 1503 Industrial Drive, Missouri City
  • Living Earth: 1700 E Highway 90Alt, Richmond
  • Living Earth: 12202 Cutten Rd.
  • Living Earth: 16138 Highway 6, Iowa Colony
  • Living Earth: 5210 S. Sam Houston Parkway E.
  • Living Earth: 27733 Katy Freeway, Katy
  • Living Earth: 10310 Beaumont Highway
  • Living Earth: 17555 I-45 South, Conroe
  • Living Earth: 20611 U.S. 59, New Caney
  • Living Earth: 9306 FM 523 Freeport

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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A View From HETI

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want. Photo courtesy of Boxes

With the help of a new conversational artificial intelligence platform, a Houston startup is ready to let brands get up close and personal with consumers while minimizing waste.

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want.

The Boxes device, about the size of a 40-inch television screen, dispenses products to consumers in a modern and sustainable spin on the old-fashioned large vending machine.

CEO Fernando Machin Gojdycz learned that business from his entrepreneur father, Carlos Daniel Machin, while growing up in Uruguay.

“That’s where my passion comes from — him,” Gojdycz says of his father. In 2016, Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay with some engineer friends

Funded by a $2,000 grant from the University of Uruguay, the company's mission was “to democratize and economize affordable and sustainable shopping,” in part by eliminating wasteful single-use plastic packaging.

“I worked for one year from my bedroom,” he tells InnovationMap.

Fernando Machin Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay before relocating the company to Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Boxes

The device, attached to a wall, offers free samples, or purchased products, in areas of high foot traffic, with a touch-screen interface. Powered by watsonx Assistant, the device asks survey questions of the customer, who can answer or not, on their mobile devices, via a QR code.

In return for completing a survey, customers can get a digital coupon, potentially generating future sales. The software and AI tech tracks sales and consumer preferences, giving valuable real-time market insight.

“This is very powerful,” he says.

Boxes partnered in Uruguay with major consumer brands like Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson and Unilever, and during COVID, pivoted and offered PPE products. Then, with plans of an expansion into the United States, Boxes in 2021 landed its first U.S. backer, with $120,000 in funding from startup accelerator Techstars.

This led to a partnership with the Minnesota Twins, where Boxes devices at Target Field dispensed brand merchandise like keychains and bottles of field dirt.

Gojdycz says while a company in the Northeast is developing a product similar in size, Boxes is not “targeting traditional spaces.” Its software and integration with AI allows Boxes to seamlessly change the device screen and interface, remotely, as well.

Boxes aims to provide the devices in smaller spaces, like restrooms, where they have a device at the company's headquarters at climate tech incubator Greentown Labs. Boxes also recently added a device at Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters in Spring, as part of HPE’s diversity startup program.

Boxes hopes to launch another sustainable innovation later this year, in universities and supermarkets. The company is also developing a device that would offer refillable detergent and personal cleaning products like shampoo and conditioner with a reusable container.

Since plastic packaging accounts for 40 percent of retail price, consumers would pay far less, making a huge difference, particularly for lower-income families, he says.

“We are working to make things happen, because we have tried to pitch this idea,” he says.

Some supermarket retailers worry they may lose money or market share, and that shoppers may forget to bring the refill bottles with them to the store, for example.

“It’s about..the U.S. customer,” he says, “….but we think that sooner or later, it will come.”

Boxes has gotten funding from the accelerator startup branch of Houston-based software company Softeq, as well as Mission Driven Finance, Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, and Right Side Capital, among others.

“Our primary challenges are scaling effectively with a small, yet compact team and maintaining control over our financial runway,” Gojdycz says.

The company has seven employees, including two on its management team.

Gojdycz says they are actively hiring, particularly in software and hardware engineering, but also in business development.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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