Austin Families Go Zero Waste on Reality TV


Four Austin families competed to reduce their household’s trash to zero in the first zero waste reality show in the U.S. Photo: City of Austin

Reality TV shows already challenge contestants to lose weight in front of millions of viewers. But a different kind of reality show recently aired in Austin, where families competed to drop pounds from their household’s waste – not cut inches from their waists.

Produced by the city of Austin’s waste management program, “Dare to Go Zero” challenged four local families to reduce their household’s trash to zero in five weeks. Each week, the families’ trash was weighed in the style of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” and the family with the highest percentage of “waste loss” by the end of the series won a $2,000 sustainable home improvement package.

READ: Meet the Zero Waste Family

The show debuted this Earth Day on Austin’s government access channel, and now all five episodes are available for viewing on YouTube.

The city decided to create the nation’s first zero waste reality show, so Austin residents could learn to recycle and reduce their waste by watching their neighbors adopt zero waste habits.

“’Dare to Go Zero’ will allow people to see how to put zero waste ideas into practice and truly reduce their waste stream. It’s also a fun way for us to help educate people about going beyond reducing, reusing and recycling,” said Bob Gedert, Austin’s solid waste services director. “The three Rs aren’t enough anymore. People must also rethink, and ‘Dare to Go Zero’ will be a great way to highlight innovative ideas.”

READ: First Zero Waste Grocery Store to Open in Austin

The city of Austin adopted a zero waste plan in 2009 and aims to reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfills by 90 percent by 2040.


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