First U.S. Zero Waste Reality Show to Debut on Earth Day (With Video)

Four families. Five weeks. One goal: to reduce household trash to zero. Watch their progress in a new reality TV show called Dare to Go Zero produced by the City of Austin debuting on Earth Day, Friday, April 22.

Dare to Go Zero is the first Zero Waste reality show in the U.S. and is designed to educate Austin residents about how to drastically reduce waste in their homes. The City of Austin is working toward a Zero Waste goal to reduce the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040.

"Zero Waste is something that can seem daunting to accomplish," said Bob Gedert, City of Austin Solid Waste Services Director. "We decided to create a reality show so Austinites can learn how to rethink their lifestyles by watching their neighbors do it."

The four Austin families will try to go Zero Waste while documenting their progress on camera. Weekly "dares" will test the families' recycling and waste reduction knowledge and provide a chance to win eco-friendly prizes. The ultimate prize: a Sustainable Home Improvement Package worth more than $2,000. Each week, the families' trash will be weighed Biggest Loser-style, and the family with the highest percentage of "waste loss" by the end of the series will be the winner.

City of Austin Channel 6 Manager Keith Reeves promises that the show will entertain viewers and might just change people's minds about government television. "We're trying to reinvent how government television is perceived by doing programming like this," he said.

The Families

The City of Austin announced a call for families who represented Austin's diverse population in November 2010. Fifty-two households applied, eight families were called back for on-camera auditions, and four families were chosen to participate.

The Blue Team: Joe, Elisa, Kathy and Konnar

Joe and Elisa want to teach their kids to recycle for the benefit of our planet. They also want to learn new ways of reducing waste in their home.

The Green Team: Cassandra, Ashley and Martaeyah

Cassandra wants to participate in Dare to Go Zero for her daughter, who cares about the environment, but Cassandra has no idea how or what to recycle.

The Red Team: Tami and Triston

Tami applied to be on the show because her teenage son, Triston, has no interest in recycling or reducing waste and thinks recycling is "stupid."

The Black Team: Julia, Jason and Will

With a new baby and six Chihuahuas, their household produces a lot of waste. Jason is an avid recycler, while Julia is a work in progress.

"I think people will be surprised at how easy it can be," said Gedert. "It's about going beyond reducing, reusing and recycling. You must also rethink, and the contestants came up with truly innovative ideas."

The Host: Michael

Through an audition process, Michael Bocanegra was chosen to represent the Solid Waste Services Department and the City of Austin as host of Dare to Go Zero. He is a Solid Waste Services employee who works as an operator in bulk collection and has been with the City for almost five years. He's lived in Austin all his life and is married with four children. Michael said his main reason for wanting to be host was "because it was a good opportunity to get awareness out about recycling."

Beginning April 22, episodes will air Fridays at 7 p.m. Central time on the City of Austin government access channel and on