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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Intensive Zero Waste Challenge

About the intensive Zero Waste Challenge

In addition to the online Zero Waste Challenge, Hennepin County offers a more intensive Zero Waste Challenge where participating households are teamed up with a staff liaison who offers personalized support and coaching throughout the challenge. 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.

Households in the intensive challenge weigh their waste for a month at the beginning of the challenge and submit their data to the county. They then focus on making changes on the actions they've identified for six months. At the end of the challenge, they weigh their waste for a month and submit their data to the county to track the impact of their changes.

Participating households are expected to attend an in-person orientation and at least one in-person training or online webinar during the challenge.

Watch the video to learn more about the Zero Waste Challenge

Why 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 participants receive

Participants receive:

  • Hands-on, personalized coaching to assess the waste generated in their homes and develop a customized waste reduction plan
  • Opportunities to attend workshops on a variety of waste reduction topics
  • Supplies and educational materials as needed, including a scale to weigh waste, compostable bags, a backyard compost bin, and a zero-waste guide
  • Ongoing assistance from staff and volunteers in making low-waste lifestyle changes

Expectation of participants

Participants are expected to:

  • Attend an introductory workshop
  • Attend one workshop to learn more about ways they can reduce waste. Workshops will cover a variety of topics and will be offered at many locations, dates, and times throughout the challenge
  • 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 for four weeks at the beginning and end of the challenge
  • Commit to the entire eight-month challenge

Online Zero Waste Challenge

Opportunities to participate

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

The first online Zero Waste Challenge focused on low-waste actions in general was help in May and June, 2020.

The county will offer a Zero Waste Challenge focused on reducing food waste in September 2020, and a plastic-free Zero Waste Challenge in early 2021.

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 will be accepted in late summer.

Online Zero Waste Challenge

 Registration for the next online Zero Waste Challenge, focused on reducing food waste,will be open in August 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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