In an effort to find solutions for reducing waste and increasing recycling, Hennepin County, Minn., launched a Zero Waste Challenge last September. As part of the challenge, the county followed 35 households for a year, tracking the items bought and waste created.
Each week during the challenge, members of the participating households attended several workshops and weighed their waste. In addition, county staffers frequently met with the participants to assess waste patterns and develop waste reduction plans.
Over the past year, participants cut the amount of waste they produced by 20 percent and they recycled or composted about 62 percent of their waste stream, which is about 20 percent higher than the countywide diversion rate.
Star Tribune has more details:
Ali DeCamillis and her young St. Louis Park family were already thoughtful about how they reduced household trash. The plan included recycling and backyard composting.
But a hands-on, nearly yearlong “Zero Waste Challenge” initiative in Hennepin County — modeled after a successful program by a city in France — became a real eye opener for how much they could do.
“We are such a consumer-based society,” said DeCamillis. “It’s easy to bring things into your home and not think about how it gets disposed. We couldn’t have tackled this without the county’s help.”