Ecology Action, Austin, TX

Origins and Brief Summary of Ecology Actions

Ecology Action of Texas was founded in 1970 as an all-volunteer group that sought to promote a variety of environmental issues, most notably recycling. Today our mission is to educate and empower people to create a healthier environment through waste prevention and accessibility to recycling.

In 2000 we became a worker-run cooperative operated by a democratic decision making process. This horizontal structure has allowed for equal pay and sharing of the work loads, as well as for all of the employees voices to be heard in actively deciding what is best for Ecology Action. We are currently a union IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) job shop: Local Industrial Union 650. We believe that the way we operate our business , where our materials end up, and education are crucial to creating a sustainable and just world for all. We hope that the models we create will inspire other non-profits and businesses to re-evaluate their practices for the future.

What We Do Today

ecology action

Ecology Action of Texas is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) membership organization dedicated to public education and community service.

Our mission is to educate and empower people to create a healthier environment through waste prevention, accessibility to recycling and cooperation.

We operate recycling drop-off centers across Central Texas and maintain a recycling drop-off and processing center in downtown Austin.

Besides recycling and composting our work includes:

  • Conducting educational tours
  • Customer service
  • Providing hands-on volunteer opportunities
  • Facilitating training programs and partnerships for traditionally marginalized and differently-abled communities.
  • Staffing public events throughout the year
  • Providing educational talks at classroom and community spaces
  • Consultations and waste audits to small businesses
  • Providing mutual aid and support to other workers in labor disputes
  • Providing services to members of the homeless population.
  • Incubating and supporting other cooperatives
  • Interfacing with policy makers about environmental issues in Central Texas
  • Serving as a clearinghouse for information about recycling and waste prevention through the City’s 311 information service.


Landfills aren’t the only thing we impact. By using recycled instead of virgin materials, manufacturers are able to conserve resources and reduce pollution. The waste we diverted last year made a big difference to the quality of our air, water, and land. We recycled enough aluminum to save 232,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. The glass we recycled saved an equivalent of 4,432 gallons of fuel oil. The paper we recycled saved 16,924 trees and 6.9 million gallons of water as well as 3,285 cubic yards of landfill space and 4 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

Cooperative organizational structure

Ecology Action of Texas is a non-profit, worker-run, recycling/compost and sustainable agriculture operation founded in 1970. Worker self-management was won via an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor strike in July of 2001, and Ecology Action is currently organized horizontally and operates on consensus. Our guiding principles emphasize consideration of the social and environmental consequences inherent in every decision that we make, and we strive to promote and participate in a Solidarity Economy wherever possible.

Photos by Ann Harkness

Ecology Action

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