News: Zero Waste Challenge will help households slash their trash

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Media contact: Alisa Reckinger, Environment and Energy, 612-348-4788

Media contact: Carolyn Collopy, Environment and Energy, 612-596-0993

Zero Waste Challenge will help households slash their trash

Hennepin County is looking for households to participate in its Zero Waste Challenge beginning this fall, an opportunity to get hands-on help to make low-waste lifestyle changes.

The county seeks up to 50 households to participate in the eight-month-long challenge that takes an in-depth look at the goods they buy and waste they create to uncover opportunities and challenges to increase recycling and reduce waste. 

Zero Waste Challenge participants learn a

lower-waste lifestyle

The challenge will build on the success of the Zero Waste Challenge pilot that began in September 2016. The 35 households – 133 adults and children – who completed the first challenge decreased the amount of waste they produced by 20 percent.

On average, households also recycled or composted 62 percent of their waste, significantly more than the countywide diversion rate of 45 percent. About half of the households started composting their organic waste due to the challenge.

The DeCamillis family of St. Louis Park, previous challenge participants, focused on reducing food waste and diverting more waste to organics recycling.

“There are a lot of things that I’ve always intended in my life to be better at, but having a challenge like this has helped me to just start doing it,” said Joe DeCamillis.

Although many people know reducing waste lowers their impact on the environment and reduces the amount of stuff they have to deal with, taking action can be hard. The Zero Waste Challenge offers guidance to make those lifestyle changes.

DeCamillis family at a zero waste workshop
Ali DeCamillis with her children at a Zero Waste workshop.

“The challenge was a really awesome opportunity to get some support. We were assigned a coordinator who did in-home assessments and answered our questions,” said Ali DeCamillis.  

Another challenge participant, the Selton family of Crystal, went from barely recycling to maintaining a backyard composting bin and worm composting bin. They also started giving certificates for experiences rather than gifts for birthdays and holidays. 

Participate in the next Zero Waste Challenge

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, green cleaners and backyard composting and get access to supplies and educational materials.
  • Commit to tracking and reporting the waste their household generates for four weeks at the beginning and end of the challenge and make their best attempt to adopt actions to reduce the amount of waste created in their households.

The challenge will go from September 11, 2017, to April 30, 2018. The application deadline is Sunday, August 20, 2017.

Learn more and apply online at

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Note to editor: Photos and interviews available upon request. 

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