Zero waste challenge

Slash your trash 

Ever wonder how you create so much trash at home?

Reducing waste is a great way to lower your impact on the environment and reduce the amount of stuff you have to deal with, but it can be hard to figure out what actions to take and how to fit them into your life. 

If you’ve ever wanted to reduce the amount of waste you create, Hennepin County’s new Zero Waste Challenge is a great opportunity to learn more and get hands-on help. Households participating in the challenge commit to taking a year-long look at the goods we buy and waste we create to uncover the opportunities and challenges to increasing recycling and reducing waste.

The first pilot group of families are in the middle of their year-long challenge. The county will likely be accepting applications for the challenge again in late summer or fall 2017.

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About the program

With the assistance of staff and trained volunteers, participating households identify low-waste lifestyle changes they would like to make and track and report the amount of recycling and trash generated in their homes.

Why should I participate?

Many of us intend to take action on issues we care about but struggle to figure out the best changes to make or how to fit new habits into our busy lives. If you’ve ever wanted to reduce the amount of waste you create, this program is a great opportunity to learn more and get hands-on help. 

Additionally, your participation provides the county valuable insights into the opportunities, challenges and priorities to reach our recycling and waste reduction goals. The results and lessons learned will be used to develop future waste reduction programs.

What do I get if I participate?

Participants receive:

  • Hands-on, personalized coaching to assess the waste generated in their homes and develop a customized waste reduction plan.
  • Opportunities to attend classes and workshops on a variety of waste reduction topics.
  • Supplies and educational materials as needed including a scale to weigh waste, a bag to collect recycling, compostable bags, a backyard compost bin, and a zero-waste guide.
  • Template for tracking, recording, and submitting waste information to Hennepin County.
  • A $350 stipend.
  • Ongoing assistance from staff and volunteers in tracking and reporting waste and making low-waste lifestyle changes.

What is expected of participants?

Participants are expected to:

  • Attend an introductory workshop (see dates and locations below).
  • Attend three workshops to learn more about ways they can reduce waste. Workshops will cover a wide variety of topics and will be offered at many locations, dates, and times throughout the 12-month study period.
  • Make time for consultations with a Hennepin County staff or trained volunteer every two weeks for the first two months of the study.
  • Make their best attempt to adopt actions suggested by staff or volunteers to reduce the amount of waste created in their households. 
  • Track and report the trash, recycling, and food waste their household generates weekly. 
  • Commit to the entire 12-month study period (September 15, 2016 - September 15, 2017).

Sign up

Registration for the zero waste challenge is currently closed. We will likely be taking applications for the next round of the zero waste challenge in late summer or fall 2017.

If you would like to be notified of future opportunities to participate in the zero waste challenge, contact Carolyn Collopy at or 612-596-0993.

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