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Block Leader Profile: Christine Gutierrez

Guess who's back? Back again. — Block Leader Profiles are back! Tell a friend.

Meet Christine Gutierrez. Christine is a case of curiosity killed the...waste. She joined the Block Leaders when a social media post peaked her interest. Fast-forward a few months and she is helping her neighbors with composting questions and leading a Zero Waste lifestyle.

We sat down with Christine to see what makes this Block Leader tick.

Why did you decide to become a Zero Waste Block Leader?

I saw the orientation listing in my City of Austin utilities bill and honestly I was just curious and thought it might be a good way to be more involved in my neighborhood. The orientation was really well done and got me excited and motivated about the City's Zero Waste initiative.

What are some fun ways you introduce zero waste to your neighbors?

I was able to give away the compostable bags to neighbors — that was my favorite. It allowed me to post in my neighborhood Facebook group about our new(ish) composting bins, generate interest in the bins and then communicate and meet with neighbors when delivering the bags. That was my favorite activity. Otherwise I've just been distributing door hangers quarterly and interacting online to promote the Zero Waste initiative overall.

Which do you prefer more – recycling, composting or reuse?

Tough to pick a favorite! I am the most excited about composting because our green bins are a fairly recent addition to our neighborhood and I'm excited about how much I can put in them and save from the landfill. But reuse is coming in as a close second favorite. I don't get "excited" about recycling, I probably take it for granted.

What are some challenges you face trying to be more Zero Waste and how do you overcome them?

I recently have challenged myself to stop buying new clothes. To be fair, I wasn't much of a clothes shopper anyway but I occasionally succumbed to the convenience of online shopping. Now, I rely on thrift stores, vintage stores and clothes swaps to fill my wardrobe. I've also been directing some of my damaged clothing (stained, for example, or shoes beyond repair) to the Simple Recycling bag.

How have you made the zero waste lifestyle easier to follow in your home, for your family, or with your neighbors?

Honestly, it's a mindset change until it becomes the new normal. I grew up with no recycling available and was shocked at the idea of having to separate recyclables at home. Now I can't imagine throwing everything away. But I am really proud of the Zero Waste initiative and my excitement about it makes composting and reuse fun! Aside from that the easy to open kitchen counter compost containers are pretty awesome. =D

What do you think is the best way to reduce the materials we use every day?

Mindset, mindset, mindset! Just because it's convenient to buy new things doesn't mean we need to.

From which part of your house do you get the most recyclables?

Kitchen.

What do you do with non-recyclable material?

In this order:

  1. Donate or sell or give away if possible.
  2. Put in Simple Recycling bag if possible.
  3. See if it can be recycled at Recycle & Reuse Drop-Off Center (electronics, for example).
  4. Random wrappers are in my garbage right now. I obviously need to focus on bringing less packaging into the home with purchases.

What do you look forward to the most this coming year?

Seeing the green bins more widely used. And on a personal level generating less waste.

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About this blog

Road to Zero Waste features tips, how-to's, stories, news, and inspirational ideas on rethinking your waste. Follow our blog to learn about how you can make a difference and help Austin achieve its Zero Waste Goal by the year 2040. Together we can all help keep Austin weird, eco-friendly and beautiful.