Slash Your Trash by Joining the Zero Waste Challenge

Many people are interested in taking steps to prevent waste and produce less trash, but aren’t sure where to start. Joining Hennepin County’s Zero Waste Challenge is a great way to learn more and get hands-on help.

The county is looking for 50 households to participate in the eight-month-long challenge that takes an in-depth look at the goods we buy and waste we create to uncover opportunities to recycle more and reduce waste.

Picture of waste

Picture of waste

Learn practical solutions to prevent waste and practice more thoughtful consumption

Picture of people learning on internet

Picture of people learning on internet

You may be surprised by the variety of actions you can take to reduce waste. Repairing items when they break, buying clothes secondhand, shopping for food with less packaging, using your smartphone for as long as possible, and eliminating junk mail are just a few waste prevention actions.

The Zero Waste Challenge will help you better understand the waste your household generates, decide the best waste-reduction actions for you to take, and provide you with support and resources to reach your goals.

Zero Waste Challenge participants learn a lower-waste lifestyle

Recently 43 households completed the third round of the Zero Waste Challenge and reported successes in reducing waste and improving recycling. Participants called the challenge eye-opening and a conversation-starter, and said it both educated them and pushed them into action.

Participants cut the amount of waste they generated per person per day by nearly one-third. On average, participating households recycled 64 percent of waste generated in their households, a big increase from 44 percent at the beginning of the challenge. Most of the participating households (95 percent) use some form of composting – curbside collection, drop-off, backyard, or a combination of methods – to achieve those high recycling rates.

Participate in the next Zero Waste Challenge

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

Participating households will:

  • Receive hands-on, personalized coaching to assess the waste generated in their homes, develop a customized waste-reduction plan, and make low-waste lifestyle changes.

  • Have opportunities to attend waste-reduction workshops on topics like low-waste shopping, preventing food waste, and backyard composting.

  • Receive bi-weekly tips on waste reduction topics and get access to supplies and educational materials.

  • Connect with other households striving to live lower waste lifestyles.

Participating households commit to tracking and reporting the waste their household generates for four weeks at the beginning and end of the challenge, scheduling time for a home visit with county staff during the challenge, and making their best attempt to adopt actions to reduce the amount of waste created in their households.

The challenge will go from September 9, 2019, to April 30, 2020. Interested households should complete the online application by Sunday, August 18 at