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Austin’s “Dare to Go Zero” gives reality TV a New Twist

As Americans, we like our games; but we love to win.
In fact, we’ll do just about anything for a prize, and a chance to beat somebody, anybody at anything. We’re competitive to the max.

So, when the City of Austin Solid Waste Services Department was brainstorming new ways to encourage Texas families to reduce waste, they looked for inspiration and found it, not-surprisingly, on reality TV.

By borrowing a few pages from the hit show Biggest Loser, they pitted four Austin families against each other to reduce household waste for a month, while dangling an impressive prize in front of them for motivation:

A sustainable home package including $2000 in energy saving devices such as appliances, ceiling fans, lighting; low flow toilets from the company’s low flow toilet program; complimentary waste collection service for a year, and a year’s supply of Dillow dirt – a compost of yard trimmings and sewage slug. (“Dillo” coming from Armadillo – this is Texas after all).

It’s not surprising they had a hit on their hands.

According to Waste Services Public Information Specialist, Lauren Hammond, “We are the first city to produce this type of programming to teach people about zero waste.” The show, designed to educate residents how to slim down their trash waste-lines is in tune with Austin’s zero waste goal of 90% reduction by the year 2040.

Check out the amazing promo:

The Dare to Go Zero series, which aired for five consecutive weeks, beginning on Earth Day 2011, is so outside the usual marketing box for waste management, it stirred interest as far away as North Carolina and Arizona after it was released on Youtube.

Waste Services added a twist as well – they included team members in the production – holding auditions for the host position for instance, which practically sky-rocketed Michael Bocanegra, one of the operators in the company’s bulk collection group, to overnight celebrity status. (Well, at least in Austin!). And even the theme song was created in-house. “We have really talented employees in our department and we just wanted to showcase them and make sure they were part of the process,” Hammond said.

You can watch all five videos on Youtube. However, follow this blog for the next five weeks and you’ll get the videos as well as up close and personal insights from the brave Austin four who courageously accepted this eco-quest.

For now, the question remains: Will it be the thrill of eco-victory, or the agony of trash defeat?

Stay tuned.

About molly wright

Freelance writer, loving and living green. Blogger for Greenopolis.com Websites: http://greenupforlife.wordpress.com and nvoke.us

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