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Zero Waste Challenge

Get personalized help to live a lower waste lifestyle

Many people are interested in taking steps to prevent waste, declutter, 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 a personalized, eight-month Zero Waste Challenge with limited participation once per year, and multiple rounds of the online Zero Waste Challenge with unlimited participation throughout the year.

Join the Stop Food Waste Challenge

We love food, which leaves us wondering: why do we let so much of it go to waste? About 40% of food is wasted somewhere along the supply chain, and you may be surprised to learn that much of that food waste happens at home.

Learning how to create a meal plan, buy just what you need at the grocery store, cook creatively, and properly store food can have a big impact on reducing the amount of food in your home that goes to waste. Join Hennepin County’s online Stop Food Waste Challenge to learn easy, practical skills that will help you stop wasting food, put more money in your pocket, and take action on climate change.

The challenge runs October 13 through November 10.

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

Get involved

Applications are accepted once per year, typically in August. Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2021–22 challenge. Sign up below to be notified of future opportunities to participate in the Zero Waste Challenge.

What participants receive

Participating households:

  • Receive hands-on, personalized coaching from a county waste reduction and recycling specialist or certified Master Recycler/Composter 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 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 virtual workshops 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 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 from mid-September 2021 through early May 2022.

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.

Spread the word

Encourage others to join! Download the Zero Waste Challenge media kit (DOCX) with articles, social media posts, and graphics that can be customized and used to promote the challenge.

Opportunities to participate in the online Zero Waste Challenge

Join the Stop Food Waste Challenge

We love food, which leaves us wondering: why do we let so much of it go to waste? About 40% of food is wasted somewhere along the supply chain, and you may be surprised to learn that much of that food waste happens at home.

Learning skills like creating a meal plan, buying just what you need at the grocery store, cooking creatively, and properly storing food can have a big impact on reducing the amount of food in your home that goes to waste.

Join Hennepin County’s online Stop Food Waste Challenge to learn easy, practical skills that will help you stop wasting food, put more money in your pocket, and create a healthier environment. Even better, taking steps to reduce food waste is one of the most important actions we can take to address climate change.

The challenge runs October 13 - November 10, 2021. Join now, then be sure to check out the tips for getting started (PDF) and other tools and tutorials on the resources section of the challenge website.

Spread the word and encourage others to join the Stop Food Waste Challenge

You can start or join a team to take the challenge along with your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. The resources section of the Stop Food Waste Challenge includes many tools you can use to spread the word and include others to join, including:

Upcoming online challenges

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

The Stop Food Waste Challenge is being offered in October, and the Plastic-Free Challenge will be offered in early 2022.

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.

About the workshops

The Stop Food Waste Challenge goes October 13 through November 10. Throughout the challenge, Hennepin County is offering offering four workshops presented by Cooking Matters. Each workshop will feature basic food safety and knife skills as well as focused content and a cooking demonstration.

Participants can choose attending a workshop as one of their one-time actions in each weekly focus area during the challenge, and they will receive points that contribute to their overall impact when they report they completing the action by attending the workshops.

RSVP

All workshops will be held online. You must RSVP to receive a link to join the workshop. RSVP for all workshops here.

Workshop schedule and topics

Focus: Planning

Wednesday, October 20, from 6 to 7 p.m.

Practice planning meals in advance, shopping with a list, and learn to make frittatas.

Couldn't catch the workshop live? Watch a recording of the week 1 workshop (YouTube)

Focus: Shopping

Friday, October 29, from noon to 1 p.m.

Take a virtual grocery store tour, compare pricing and labeling, and talk about local shopping. Learn to make turkey tacos.

Focus: Kids in the kitchen

Saturday, November 6, from 10 to 11 a.m.

Discuss age-appropriate kitchen tasks for kids, ways to help develop healthy eating habits, and learn to cook mini pizzas.

Focus: Storage

Tuesday, November 9, from 6 to 7 p.m.

Discuss safe handling and storing perishable foods as well as using ingredients in multiple meals and how to be flexible with recipes. Learn to cook a veggie and rice stir fry.

Personalized eight-month Zero Waste Challenge

Applications are accepted once per year, typically in August. Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2021–22 challenge. Sign up below to be notified of future opportunities to participate in the Zero Waste Challenge.

Online Zero Waste Challenge

Join the online Stop Food Waste Challenge to learn easy, practical skills that will help you stop wasting food, put more money in your pocket, and take action on climate change. The challenge runs October 13 through November 10, 2021.

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