Zero Waste Challenge Waterloo Region

Take the Zero Waste Challenge

zero waste challenge participants with mason jars

The 2017 Zero Waste Challenge is over!

Both the 7 day and 30 day challenges ended on October 22.

Thank you to the 89 people and 25 pets in 52 households for participating!

You can still take the challenge any time that you like! Let us know by using #ZeroWasteWR.

What is the Zero Waste Challenge?

There is a lot of waste in our lives. The idea of this challenge is to try to reduce your waste as much as possible. Everything destined to be buried in the landfill gets put in a mason jar.

Your goal is to fit it all into your jar. Strive to keep it as empty as possible.

You are encouraged to embrace the 5 Rs of Zero Waste: Refuse / Reduce / Reuse / Recycle / Rot –and in that order!–to reduce the waste you generate.

Pick your challenge

7 Days: October 16 – 22

30 Days: September 23 – October 22

Live in an apartment, condo or townhouse without green bins?  Use our drop off locations. We also take empty cereal bags.

What to do

  1. Accept the challenge. Register as an individual, family or household.
  2. Get a 1 litre mason jar to track how you do.
  3. Personalize the challenge to help it be more achievable or to increase the challenge.
  4. Prepare. Learn how to think and act differently using resources such as our Zero Waste 101 page. Start figuring out what can help you meet the challenge such as how to shop.
  5. When your challenge starts, put all your waste destined for the landfill into your mason jar. Everything that can be composted or recycled should go in the green bin or blue box.
  6. Connect with the community of participants in our Facebook group or at events. Learn from and support each other.
  7. Share photos of how you or your home is doing on social media using #zerowasteWR
  8. Let us know how you did. Respond to our survey to let us know about your experience and how we can improve.


Thank you for sponsoring the challenge!

Sustainable Societies Consulting Group

2017 Prizes

Why take the challenge?

Reducing the waste you create is an important part of living sustainably.

Less waste in the landfill means less greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change. Different choices and behaviours can also mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions in the production and/or transport of goods and packaging. It even lowers the impact required to recycle materials.

Less waste in our life reduces litter in our communities and natural areas. More than just being an eyesore, litter harms the environment. Think for example of all the plastic in our lakes and oceans.

Personalize your challenge

We encourage you to consider some of the following options to personalize the challenge.

  • Use 1 mason jar for everyone in your home (only 1 registration required) or use a jar per person (register individually).
  • Live in an apartment, townhouse or condo without a green bin option? Use one of our drop off locations:(Reep House for Sustainable Living) near downtown Kitchener, 7 Shores Cafe in Uptown Waterloo or those available to University of Waterloo students and staff.
  • If anyone in your home uses disposable diapers, they can be exempted from the challenge since it is a difficult change for a short period. We encourage you though to consider trying an alternative such as cloth diapers.
  • While feminine hygiene products are also exempt from the challenge, you could use this opportunity to try a sustainable alternative.
  • Meat packaging including butcher paper is garbage that can’t be recycled or composted. If you normally eat meat, we encourage you to consider reducing or eliminating the meat in your diet. An alternative is to ask a butcher to put your meat directly into a container you bring from home. We’ll let you decide if you want to exempt meat packaging or figure out how best to track it.
  • Cereal bags can be dropped off into a box on the front porch of the Reep House for Sustainable Living . We’ll give them to our friends at the rare Charitable Reserve who sell them to an organization that is able to reuse them as a fundraiser.
  • Increase the challenge! Stop using single-use plastic, such as plastic water bottles/grocery bags/to-go containers, that you only use once before it is recycled).
  • If you are the only one taking the challenge in your home, consider using a smaller jar.
  • If including your work life is too difficult, take the challenge for your personal life.

Use Zero Waste 101 to help you

Use our Zero Waste 101 page for information and strategies that can help you be successful.

Have any questions?

For questions about what waste goes where, use the Region of Waterloo’s Waste Whiz to find out if something can be recycled or put in your green bin. Or better yet, download My Waste app offered by the Region for Blackberry, Android and Apple devices.

For questions about the challenge, see if it has been answered by our Facebook group or on the Challenge’s Twitter page.

Still have questions? Ask us!

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