I became interested in the Zero Waste Block Leader program because I wanted to become more knowledgeable about the City of Austin’s current initiatives and sustainability programs so that I could help to share that knowledge with my own networks and neighbors. Austin is already doing so many cool things to move towards our goal of reaching zero waste status by 2040 and I wanted to help spread the word about the steps that all of us can take to help Austin get there.
I am involved with a few young professionals groups (like the Austin Young Chamber and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network) and through these groups I’ve helped to promote opportunities to visit local recycling facilities like Balcones Recycling, Austin Goodwill’s Resource Center, and the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center to give community members a chance to go on behind-the-scenes tours to learn more about recycling and zero waste initiatives. I also post relevant information and announcements to my neighbors via Nextdoor to share tips on how they can save money by downsizing their trash bins, get a second recycle bin for free if they tend to fill up their one bin between pickups, and use some of Austin Resource Recovery’s tools and resources to help them figure out what’s recyclable and what isn't.
I support local organizations that strive to make a positive imprint on the community. I serve as a Real Goodwill Ambassador because I’m passionate about both their mission of empowering Central Texans to change their lives through work and Austin Goodwill’s commitment to keeping millions of pounds of waste out of landfills each year by recycling and reusing as much of our donated “stuff” as they can. I support young professional organizations and nonprofits like Leadership Austin because they are working to create an informed and engaged citizenry by shaping the next generation of community leaders. I support groups like Austin EcoNetwork, We Serve Austin, and the Austin Zero Waste Lifestyle meetup because they are committed to sharing sustainability knowledge and giving back to the community. I support social entrepreneurship initiatives like Philanthropitch and the Re[verse] Pitch Competition because they encourage innovation for social impact. Austin is doing a ton of great work!
All of them! I recycle whenever and wherever I can, my house is lucky to be participating in the City of Austin’s composting pilot program so I compost daily, and I purchase my clothes and household items from local thrift shops like Austin Goodwill… and then donate some back when my closet gets too cluttered.
The two main challenges that I face are informing myself on how to be more Zero Waste and then making it as easy as possible for myself to do so. It’s been wonderful to be a part of the Zero Waste Block Leaders program because it’s a supportive network of folks who are informed and passionate about sustainability. I’ve also discovered that Austin Resource Recovery’s website is chock full of information on sustainability initiatives and tools like “What Do I Do With”, an interactive website guide to help answer recycling questions. The Austin Recycles email newsletter and Facebook page are two more great resources that help teach me tips and tricks to incorporate more Zero Waste into my life.
Austin Resource Recovery has brochures and stickers available that we put on or near the recycling bins in our house to remind ourselves what can and can’t be recycled. We keep a collection box in our living room for items that are no longer wanted so that we can drop them off all at once. Also, the more time we spend outside enjoying Austin’s gorgeous natural spaces, the more motivated we are to reduce, reuse, and compost to be better stewards of our city!
With five roommates living in our house, we likely do most of our recycling in the kitchen. Keeping our recycling, trash, and a small interior compost bin bucket all centrally located really helps us to think about what we throw where – and most of the items in our kitchen are recyclable once they are rinsed clean of food.
I don’t own a pet myself, but I do a ton of pet sitting. One of the easiest (and most impactful!) things that we can all do is simply "scoop the poop". There are more than 250,000 dogs living in Austin and generating 150,000 pounds of waste throughout the city every day... that's more than 900 dogs per square mile! I buy compostable poop bags and pick up after the pups that I walk to help keep Austin's land and waterways cleaner.
Hops & Grains’ Brew Biscuits are somewhat “recycled” – they use the leftover malted grains from the brewing process to make “brew biscuits” for dogs!