The Solid Waste Services Department’s reality-based show, ‘Dare to Go Zero’ recently aired its final episode. The featured families competed in challenges over a five-week period to learn how to reduce the waste they generate.
As part of the Department’s Zero Waste Strategic Plan to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by 20 percent in 2012 and 90 percent by 2040, Michael Bocanegra hosted the show. Bocanegra is a Solid Waste Services employee who works as an operator in bulk collection and has been with the City for almost five years.
As the show progressed, eliminations were done according to the total amount of waste the families had reduced. Each family ‘weighed-in’ at the end of the episode and the one with the most non-recyclable waste were eliminated. While all families that participated did a fantastic job of reducing waste and recycling, only two were chosen to compete for a sustainable household package worth more than $2,000.
The Zimmerman/Brian family and the Johnson/Tompkins family competed in the final show. Both families said reducing their waste was a challenge in the beginning of the show but after five weeks, it became second nature. “Now when we shop, we pay more attention to what things are packaged in,” Julia Zimmerman said. “That was where our biggest potential for building waste was.” Cassandra Johnson said, “It’s definitely a lifestyle change. It was hard in the beginning but it got easier. Now that we know what to do with our waste, it’s not a chore.”
Weighing in at ‘Zero’ waste, the Johnson/Tompkins family was announced at the end of the show as the winners. The Zimmerman/Brian family started the final episode with .33 pounds of waste. “Even if you don’t get it down to a pound or less, every choice you make helps our environment and our city reach its goal,” host Bocagnera said.
The grand prize is a sustainable household package that included up to $2,000 in energy saving improvements for the Johnson/Tomkins home. All episodes can be viewed on You Tube (www.youtube.com/austintexasgov). For more information, visit austinrecycles.com.
By Michelle Keller