Winners of the 2010 Challenge!
On November 13th, Dan Vrakas, Waukesha County Executive, was on hand at the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) to award Mary Jo Baas the grand prize in the Reduce Your Waste Stream Team Challenge: a 46” LCD television donated by the Carton Council. The Baas family won the prize for reducing the amount of garbage they threw away by an astonishing 89.8 percent, more than 32 other households in the Challenge. The Brookfield family reduced their weekly trash from 20.8 pounds to 2.1 pounds. Coming in second place and receiving a laptop computer laptop was the Beyerlein household, compiling an impressive 87.5 percent reduction in their garbage. The Town of Waukesha family reduced their weekly trash from 16 pounds to 2 pounds.
Where did it all go? Much of it was removed from their garbage cans and either reused, thrown into the recycling bin or composted in their backyard. Some of it never made it into their house because participants learned to buy in bulk or recyclable packaging to significantly reduce packaging waste.
The recycling grand prize, a desktop computer, went to the Peggy Lippe household from Elm Grove for increasing recycling from 7 pounds to 86 pounds per week, an increase of over 1100 percent. Both the laptop and the desktop computers were donated by Materials Processing Corporation.
The fun, friendly waste-reduction competition was designed to increase awareness of recycling and waste reduction strategies available to all Waukesha County residents. In all, 33 families in six Waukesha County communities participated in the Challenge. The STEaM Team, made up of five families whose children attend the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Charter School in Waukesha, were awarded a Team Grand Prize for their cumulative 71 percent waste reduction. They reduced their weekly waste from 7.7 pounds per person to 2.2 pounds per person.
Mr. Vrakas was pleasantly surprised by the results of the Challenge. “The most interesting outcome of the Challenge might be the way families came together to work toward a common goal. This competition did more than simply reduce the amount of waste people threw away. It actually gave people a sense of accomplishment. It made a difference in their lives. These families are models for the rest of us.”
It also made a difference when considering the environmental impact. Preliminary competition data showed that each household reduced the amount of garbage it produced by an average of 12.6 pounds per week. The data also showed the amount of recyclable material increased by an average of 10 pounds per household per week. By extrapolating the data collected from the participating households, if just one quarter of the households in the 25 participating communities did as well as our Challenge participants, the county would divert more than 7,200 tons of garbage every year from landfills and increase recycling by 5,700 tons. From a financial standpoint, that represents an annual savings of over $288,000 in landfill disposal fees and $572,000 worth of additional recyclables..
“Even though this is a small sample size, this competition shows what can be done to reduce our waste stream in the county and the entire state,” said Karen Fiedler, Solid Waste Supervisor for Waukesha County. “Most of the families that participated thought they were already pretty good about recycling, yet they were able to increase recycling by an average of 67%. What that tells me is that those families that don’t do a lot of recycling could post even more impressive results by simply practicing the 3Rs- reduce, reuse, recycle. The Challenge results are very encouraging and speak well to what households can accomplish in the future with just a little effort.”
Sponsors for the Challenge are: the Carton Council, leading manufacturers of carton packaging; FCR Recycling; Materials Processing Corporation (MPC), recyclers of electronics; Marcus Theatres; Veolia Environmental Services-Hartland; and Johns Disposal. To read participant blog posts and see team reduction and recycling data, or to learn what you can do to reduce your waste stream, go to www.ReduceYourWasteStream.org.