Reduce, Reuse, and THEN Recycle

The city of Austin has introduced the Austin Recycles Games as a way to promote recycling.

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The Austin Recycles Games are a recycling competition among the 10 city council districts. The goal of the competition is to increase residential recycling and create awareness of barriers residents face.
The Austin Recycles Games will calculate pounds of recyclables collected per household in each district for the months of December 2015 through March 2016.

While the overall concept is a good idea, the goal is a bit suspect:

The goal is for every curbside customer to recycle at least 60 pounds every month.

As a zero waste advocate, I’m here to tell you that if you use fewer recyclables than that in a month, that’s fantastic! It may not count towards this contest, but I will happily give you bonus points for:

  • refusing single-use plastic beverage containers when eating out
  • making your own salsa instead of buying it in a glass jar
  • signing up for “do not mail” lists
  • eating more fresh local veggies instead of buying tinned
  • avoiding bottled water like the plague
  • not buying goods online, packed and delivered in cardboard boxes
  • not buying cheapo plastic laundry baskets that quickly fall apart

That last one I mention only because that’s one of the illustrated examples of recyclable hard plastic in the informational graphic below.

So there is a plus side to this contest at least in that they’re using it as an educational opportunity for teaching people what is and isn’t recyclable in our area. This is great because I have seen plastifoil chip bags, banana peels, used napkins, and even wooden jewelry boxes in various recycling bins and am sometimes too overwhelmed to deal with it. So for those of you in Austin, take a good look below or visit What Do I Do when you have any recycling questions like whether or not plastic straws are recyclable here. (Hint: They’re not.)

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And if you did have any of those items in the trash bin instead of the recycling, as the promotion says…

Stop trashing so many recyclables; let’s toss them all “IN THE BIN FOR THE WIN!”
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