A Note From A Zero Waste Block Leader

A Note From A Zero Waste Block Leader

Austinites You Should Know

About The Author

This post is sponsored by Ridwell and written by Madison Madden. Ridwell is a local subscription pickup service that makes it easy to waste less.

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This post is sponsored by Ridwell. All Austin Common sponsors are screened by The Austin Common team to ensure they’re doing good for their employees, customers, our community, and the planet.

This week I visited Balcones Resources, where my recycling goes (and if you live north of the river, yours does too). They are one of the most efficient and innovative recycling facilities in the country. In the picture above, you can see me standing next to bales of aluminum cans… A few of the 300+ tons of material they process PER DAY!


My visit inspired me to write this post, hoping that it would be helpful and inspiring to others. 


The average American

…produces 1,704 POUNDS of garbage per year.

…EATS as much as a credit card worth of plastic PER WEEK.

…and wastes about 1 pound of food PER DAY.

An estimated 1/3 of food produced globally goes to waste. Landfills are a leading cause of methane emissions, expediting climate change. 


We are literally drowning in trash. And producing more by the day. 


I know that recycling can be confusing and frustrating. Here are a few things you can do to lower your waste footprint:

  • Buy less, reuse more. Our neighborhood buy nothing groups (on Facebook or at BuyNothingProject.org) are great places to find stuff, get rid of stuff, and make new friends. 

  • Support brands and businesses that use recycled and recyclable materials and packaging, or no packaging at all. If you’re a business owner, consider how you could promote wasting less (the majority of our local landfill waste is produced by commercial and multi-family dwellings).

  • Don’t bag your recycling in a plastic bag. Instead, put it directly in the recycling bin. Plastic bags are not recycled curbside. 

  • When you have to use them, don’t put batteries, plastic bags, e-waste or styrofoam in the recycling. Use drop off centers or specialty recycling services like Ridwell for hard-to-recycle materials. 

  • Think about where your stuff goes. It’s easy to be out-of-sight out-of-mind, but it doesn’t just disappear. Educate yourself, and inspire others to think about it too! Request that your favorite restaurants, grocers, and businesses switch to more sustainable options ❤️

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions. I’d be happy to help you navigate this confusing but essential topic.

Madison Madden is the Austin Market Manager for Ridwell, a Zero Waste Block Leader for the City of Austin and the author of the best-selling book, Mind Body Food. Her passion is the intersection of Health and Sustainability. She lives in the Windsor Park neighborhood of Austin. (Zero Waste Block Leaders are Austinites trained by Austin Resource Recovery to help serve as a resource to their neighbors who have questions about recycling, compost, and all things zero waste.)


PS – Austin Common readers can get one free month of Ridwell membership if you sign up using this link

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