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Zero Waste Challenge

Get help to live a lower waste lifestyle

Many people are interested in taking steps to prevent waste, recycle, and compost more but aren’t sure where to start.

Hennepin County’s Zero Waste Challenge programs will help you learn more, connect you with resources to help you reach your goals, and provide support and motivation along the way. There are three opportunities to get involved:

  • A personalized, eight-month Zero Waste Challenge is open to approximately 50 households per round. This challenge offers one-on-one support and accountability from trained waste experts.
  • A fully online, month-long Plastic-Free Challenge has unlimited participation and directs households to focus on actions to reduce single-use plastics.
  • A fully online, month-long Stop Food Waste Challenge has unlimited participation and directs households to focus on actions to prevent wasting food.

Registration for the Stop Food Waste Challenge is open in July, and the challenge will take place August 1–31, 2022.

Learn more about each challenge in the drawers below.

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

Get involved

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 or in-person 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 newsletters with 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 an introductory workshop and at least four additional workshops, as well as track their waste during the challenge.

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 programs.

Watch the video to learn more about the Zero Waste Challenge

Expectation of participants

Participants are expected to:

  • Attend an introductory workshop.
  • Attend at least four 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 initial home visit or 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 participate in the entire eight-month challenge.

Participation in the challenge 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 track your waste.

About the online Plastic-Free Challenge

The online Plastic-Free Challenge will help you increase your understanding of plastics and plastic waste, uncover opportunities to cut back on the amount of plastic you bring into your home, and provide support and motivation to make lasting change at home and in your community. The challenge has more than 70 actions to choose from in seven categories. 

The Plastic-Free Challenge typically runs during the month of February with registration open in January.

About the Stop Food Waste Challenge

The online Stop Food Waste Challenge will help you learn more about food waste and improve your skills in cooking, planning, shopping, and storage to prevent wasting food. The challenge has more than 40 actions to choose from in five categories.

The Stop Food Waste Challenge typically runs during the month of August with registration open in July.

Personalized eight-month Zero Waste Challenge

The 2022 round of the Zero Waste Challenge is completed. Applications for the 2023 cohort will be accepted in spring 2023. Sign up below to be notified when registration opens.

Online month-long challenges

The Stop Food Waste Challenge will be offered in August 2022, with registration opening in July. Sign up below to be notified when registration opens, or visit the website hennepinfoodwaste.ecochallenge.org in July to sign up.

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