Zero Waste Challenge

Slash your trash and live a lower waste lifestyle

Ever wonder how you create so much trash at home? Many people are interested in taking steps to prevent waste and recycle more, but aren’t sure where to start.

Hennepin County’s Zero Waste Challenge will help you learn more, connect you with resources to help you reach your goals, and provide support and motivation along the way.

The county offers an intensive Zero Waste Challenge with limited participation once per year, and multiple rounds of the online Zero Waste Challenge with unlimited participation throughout the year.

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Zero Waste Challenge

About the Zero Waste Challenge

During the eight-month challenge, 50 households take an in-depth look at the goods we buy and waste we create to uncover opportunities to recycle more and reduce waste. 

What participants receive

Participating households:

  • Receive hands-on, personalized coaching from a county waste reduction and recycling specialist to assess the waste generated in their homes, develop a customized waste-reduction plan, and make low-waste lifestyle changes.
  • Attend a series of virtual educational workshops and discussions on waste-reduction topics such as low-waste shopping, preventing food waste, and backyard composting.
  • Evaluate their waste at the beginning, middle, and end of the challenge and submit their data to the county. 
  • Receive bi-weekly waste reduction tips and get access to supplies and educational materials.
  • Connect with other households striving to live lower waste lifestyles.
Participating households are expected to attend a virtual introductory workshop and at least four of the six monthly virtual workshops and discussions.

Why participate

Many of us intend to take action on issues we care about but struggle to figure out which changes or new habits fit 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 personalized 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 are used to develop future waste reduction programs.

Watch the video to learn more about the Zero Waste Challenge


Expectation of participants

Participants are expected to:

  • Attend a virtual introductory workshop.
  • Attend at least four of the six monthly workshops and discussions to learn more about ways they can reduce waste. Workshops will cover a variety of topics and will be offered several times per month throughout the challenge.
  • Have one home visit/one-on-one conversation with their staff liaison to check in on their progress and answer questions. Home visits will be virtual unless there is an option to be in-person while following health and safety precautions.
  • Make their best attempt to adopt actions to reduce the amount of waste created in their households
  • Track and report the trash, recycling, and food waste their household generates for two weeks at the beginning, middle, and end of the challenge
  • Commit to the entire eight-month challenge mid-September 2020 through mid-May 2021.

Participation involves about two hours of scheduled time each month for workshops and other check-ins. Additional time is spent on your own schedule to make progress on waste-reduction actions and evaluate your waste.

Sign up

Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2020 - 2021 round of the Zero waste Challenge. 

50 households will be selected to participate, and those who applied will be notified whether or not they were selected by Monday, September 14. 

The challenge will run from mid-September 2020 to mid-May 2021.

Spread the word

Encourage others to join! Download the Zero Waste Challenge flyer (PDF) or media kit (DOCX) with a sample newsletter article, social media posts, graphics, and photos.

Online Stop Food Waste Challenge

Opportunities to participate in the online Zero Waste Challenge

Hennepin County offers numerous opportunities to participate in rounds of the online Zero Waste Challenge throughout the year.

The county will offer a Zero Waste Challenge focused on going plastic-free in early 2021.

The first online Zero Waste Challenge focused on low-waste actions in general was held in May and June 2020, and an online Stop Food Waste Challenge was offered in September and October 2020..

About the online challenge

The online Zero Waste Challenge will help you take an in-depth look at the goods you buy and waste you create to uncover opportunities to recycle more and reduce waste. You may be surprised by the variety of actions you can take.

The online Zero Waste Challenge is powered by EcoChallenge.


Sign up

Sign ups for the Zero Waste Challenge are not available at this time.

Intensive Zero Waste Challenge

Applications for the 2020 - 2021 round of the intensive Zero Waste Challenge are no longer being accepted.

Online Plastic-Free Challenge

Registration for the online Plastic-Free Challenge will open at the end of December 2020.

Get notified of future challenges

Complete the Zero Waste Challenge interest form to be notified of future opportunities to participate.

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