Population 5,501-9,000     Landscape Award: $130,000

Whitehouse is a community unconcerned with recognition. Founded as a largely agricultural town in the mid-1890s, its citizens didn’t actually incorporate as a recognized town until the 1950s. Whitehouse Independent School District existed long before the city did, and was one of the driving forces behind incorporation. Now a cozy, but growing East Texas bedroom community, Whitehouse is still comprised of residents whose hard work has the power to change the community.

In 2010, members of Keep Whitehouse Beautiful, together with local citizens, volunteered a total of 3,747 hours to community projects, a value of more than $55,000. KWB participated in 15 community events over the course of last year, reaching over 5,000 citizens. They also had direct contact with approximately 2,000 elementary students. Every school in Whitehouse participated in a recycling program last year, collecting everything from paper, cardboard and aluminum to ink jet and toner cartridges. KWB is active on five of six WISD campuses, and has taken the lead in working with educators to teach environmental, litter prevention and recycling lessons to all grades. Examples include: more than 350 first graders participating in a litter abatement and nature appreciation day, during which they completed booklets about littering and received a litter bag and a pencil; more than 330 third graders discussing why we recycle and creating Christmas ornaments from homemade paper embedded with phlox seeds; and nearly 370 sixth graders researching the advantages and disadvantages of various energy sources and testing objects at home to gauge their energy use. The local YMCA joined the action in 2010 as well, offering for the first time a six-week gardener program for their upper elementary summer campers. It was a huge success!

When the 2010 Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off rolled around, Whitehouse residents were ready to dive right in. Over 300 citizens – from Boy Scouts and school groups to church members, business people and city leaders – cleared 43.25 miles of roadway, collecting more than 7,000 pounds of litter in the process. The semi-annual Whitehouse’s Large Item Roundup was equally successful, netting 80 appliances, 27,000 pounds of scrap metal and 75 tires.

The local recycling center worked overtime as well last year. Staffed by only a city supervisor, community service workers served as the center’s workforce. They provided 1,108 hours of labor at no cost to the city, accepting and processing more than 255,000 pounds of recyclables, including 78,000 pounds of cardboard, more than 18,500 pounds of plastic, nearly 6,000 pounds of steel cans and over 150,000 pounds of paper. In a time of statewide budget cuts, Whitehouse pocketed more than $8,500 thanks to its efforts. With its environmental achievements acting as a beacon for the entire region, the city of Whitehouse is most certainly delivering on its goal of creating a healthier, more modern city.