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Jodi Bart Holzband looks forward to trash day all week.
"I love that feeling, that it's leaving my house," the Austin public relations consultant said.
Never more than right now, perhaps, because Holzband says her family is generating more trash and recycling at the home than they ever did in the days before the stay-at-home order kept the family of four home all day.
"I'm taking out the kitchen trash twice as often," she said. "I'm so grateful that the trash and recycling are still being picked up."
The Holzbands certainly aren't alone.
Residents across the city, who are staying home to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, are disposing of 11% more trash and 15% more recycling from their homes than they were at this time last year, according to Austin Resource Recovery, which manages waste in the city.
The increase prompted the Austin City Council on Thursday to waive fees typically charged for overflowing residential trash cans, an estimated $8,000 per week, until the city lifts the social-distancing requirements and waste levels go back to average rates.
The ordinance is retroactive to March 23, the same week the stay-at-home orders went into effect, and is expected to cost some $96,000 in revenue from fees charged for extra trash for the next few months. The agency had projected $427,930 in revenue for the 2019-20 fiscal year from extra trash.
"Due to the unprecedented situation, we understand most households will be generating extra trash," said Austin Resource Recovery Director Ken Snipes. "We want to do our part to make these uncertain times easier for all."
Austin Resource Recovery had, in mid-March, already stopped charging $9.60 per extra bag or requiring residents to buy the "extra trash" stickers for $4, said public information specialist Memi Cardenas.
They have also halted all bulk and brush pickups after April 20 until further notice.
Residents have never been charged for extra recycling.
It's not just sheer time at home that's causing the increase, residents say. Every restaurant in town is required to serve their food only to go—meaning a lot more take-out and delivery containers landing in trash and recycling bins.
More home shopping also means more cardboard boxes and, in some cases, non-recyclable packing material.
According to the resolution, the fees were being waived not only to save Austinites some money, but also to discourage trips out of the house to other locations to drop off extra trash. The city's recycling center is currently closed.
The extra waste and pandemic circumstances increase the risks for sanitation workers, who Cardenas said are now all given sanitizer and disinfectant spray to use on their shifts. The city also has given them rubber gloves to wear beneath their current gear and has ordered masks, although the supply is currently going to hospitals and medical staff, she said.
Summertime sure does fly by, doesn't it? It's time to jam-pack as many summer activities as you can while there is still about a month left before school starts up again and the grind gets going. Luckily, Austin is full of places to visit that will fill your season full of memories.
To get you started, check out some of these seasonably-fit museums, galleries and snacks.
Beyond Van Gogh, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.
Like the name suggests, Beyond Van Gogh Austin takes visitors deeper into the Dutch painter's work by surrounding them in his post-impressionist world. Aptly taking place at the Starry Night Pavilion at the Circuit of the Americas, this immersive exhibit allows Vincent Van Gogh's masterpieces to be "freed from frames" as they are projected onto the walls and floors for guests to explore. Van Gogh's thoughts, dreams and words are set to a symphonic score to drive the narrative as you walk through the rooms, giving visitors insight into the tortured artist's swirly world. Adult tickets start at $46.99, children at $28.99 and it offers student and military discounts while the museum runs through Sept. 5.
Museum of Ice Cream, 11506 Century Oaks Terrace
The runaway hit from New York City has made its way to Austin, complete with a rainbow sprinkle pool, banana forest and bright-pink-everything exterior. The Museum of Ice Cream is a favorite of major celebrities—Beyoncé, Ryan Reynolds and the Kardashian Krew have all been spotted at the New York Location. The whimsical museum promises an undisclosed "Texas twist" at its new Austin location, which also has an on-brand café that serves Museum of Ice Cream original treats. You didn't think you'd leave without ice cream, did you? Tickets run $39 per person.
The Selfie Galleries, 3220 Amy Donovan Plaza
Looking for a place to get that perfect summer selfie? Look no further, because the newly-opened Selfie Galleries has 20 wildly decorated different rooms to roam through, capturing an unforgettable photo of yourself and your faves in each one. The backdrops were made so you can flex your creative muscle and make some documented memories at the same time. The gallery also hosts mixers for all age groups so you can meet local Austinites in a safe setting. Tickets start at $20 for an hour, $40 for two, depending on how many people you bring along.
Wonderspaces, 1205 Sheldon Cove
The self-proclaimed "new home for extraordinary art," Wonderspaces is an interactive art gallery like you've never experienced before. With rotating exhibits that you can touch, Instagram and ogle, the artwork is designed for everyone to create their own unique experience when visiting. Virtual reality, a house of mirrors, anonymous conversations and a dragon made of teabags are just a few of the wild installations that make this museum what it is—plus, you can enjoy some local brews at the Wonderspaces Bar. Adults can visit for $24, kids for $15 or you can get an annual pass for $99 and visit each new piece.
Milk Bar Bakery, delivery only
Maybe you want an experience without the outing. Thanks to ghost kitchens, the brainchild of Christina Tosi came all the way from The Big Apple to the Lone Star State. The well-celebrated Milk Bar Bakery is now available in Austin through third-party delivery only, meaning you can get the full line of milk bar cookies, bar pie, truffle crumb cakes and its famous layered birthday cakes through UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash and Postmates only. If you haven't had these rich cookies yet, it's time to fire up that delivery app and get to ordering!
Soak up the rest of summer while you can!