A new Shop Zero Waste campaign that launched April 25 will help the city of Austin in achieving goals for its zero waste program.

The campaign encourages residents to reduce waste by purchasing items from local businesses that use reused or recycled items or repair items so they do not end up in a landfill. This includes shoe or bike repair shops and businesses like Blue Avocado, which designs products such as lunch bags using items that normally would have been thrown away.

In March, North Austin–based BuildASign.com and Blue Avocado launched a line of reusable bags created from scrap vinyl that BuildASign normally throws away because vinyl cannot be recycled. Bags are handmade by local manufacturing company Open Arms, which employs refugee women who now live in Austin.

“This is our dream to have a locally made line,” said Amy George, found and chief ozone officer at Blue Avocado. ” All of our products share the vision to reduce waste so they’re made from recycled fabric or they’re truly designed to reduce your waste.”

Shop Zero Waste is a joint effort by the city’s Economic Development Department and Austin Resource Recovery, which handles trash and recycling collection. Resource Recovery also manages the zero waste program, which aims to divert 90 percent of the city’s waste from landfills by 2040. City Council adopted a resolution in 2009 to embrace the concept of zero waste and approved the plan in December 2012.

Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert said the goal of the Shop Zero Waste campaign is to merge the concepts of zero waste and economic development.

“This opportunity is an excellent example of how we can achieve zero waste through job creation and economic development,” he said. “Achieving our zero waste goals requires new thinking. Not only recycling and composting at home and at work but also how we buy, use and dispose of everyday items.”

Gedert said Resource Recovery would like to divert 50 percent of waste from the landfills by 2015, However, he is concerned about meeting that deadline unless more businesses like BuildASign, Blue Avocado and Open Arms step in and help divert waste from landfills, he said.

“This is an innovation here; this helps us out a lot,” he said of the new campaign.

To further promote businesses that reuse and recycle, the city added a Shop Zero Waste category to its online small business directory, LocallyAustin.org. The category lists more than 120 businesses that use recycled or reused items or repair items.

For more information, visit www.locallyaustin.org or www.blueavocado.com.


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