Zero Waste Week Challenge (2009)

Zero Waste Week Challenge

Daily Blog

Key Resources
Household Goals
Specific Alternatives
Recipes – ‘Make your own’

Start your own Food Coop


In natural systems there is no such thing as rubbish, no such thing as waste. In reality, there is no such place as ‘away’. So in the light of this we encourage your group, household, community to join together with others and take on a “Zero Waste Week” trial, where together you attempt to reduce our household rubbish for seven days. Could you survive a week without throwing anything away?
In 2009 our group took on such a challenge. For some it meant using only things that can be reused, recycled or composed, for others it meant no packaging what-so-ever. Of course what we chuck out relates directly to what we buy. It meant that for that week we were responsible for what we used. We couldn’t pass it on to an anonymous specialists who would magically make it disappear. In the spirit of other trials we’d done, we met to decide on the specifics of our challenge and work together to inventory what we regularly threw away
We encourage your group or household to gather with others and take on a Zero Waste week Challenge of your own. It can be a really fun week of engaging with an issue. Our group came out with not only with insights into our waste but a real sense of being on a journey together – we felt like explorers discovering a new world! You’d also be building up the database of resources for reducing waste specific to your area. (Our trial was focussed in suburbs to the west and north of Melbourne due to households involved).There’s many resources about our experiment below. Please be in touch if you’re interested, and pass on your story to us and we’ll post it up.

Our Challenge: 26th July – 1st August, 2009



Who was involved?Households and individuals involved include Nick & Janet’s, Shaun & Neesh’s, Edi & Glenn’s, Cara & Scott’s, Cath & Joel’s, Monica’s, Alicia & Emma’s, and Hugh. Others are of course welcome to join in.

A preparation meeting was held on the 14th July where we had a fantastic meal together – Cara’s curry, Neesh’s homegrown green salad, Nick’s homemade baked beans, Janets roast veg and salsa sauce, Cara’s vegan orange cake. We then discussed our household audit findings and the goals we’d like to achieve. Check out the resulting brainstorm on alternatives and resources here.

We started the week with a catchup at the Yarraville Farmer’s market on the 25th, and ended the week with a celebratory afternoon tea on Saturday the 1st at Shaun & Neesh’s place in Yarraville.


The ethos

Key points from our previous “100 Mile Trial” week also apply here:
1. A Trial – It is an experiment for 1 week, so its not going to kill anyone if we don’t make it or do fall short in some way, yet at the same time given that it is only a week, we should ‘go hard’ and see what we can achieve.
2. Doing it together – Many people have tried this as an individual or household. It is quite a bit of hard work but all becomes easier when treated as a community exercise where we share discoveries together, work together, and are challenged together. We are supporting one another in learning good ways of living.
3. Preparation – Necessary if we are going to know what we throw out and not get unexpected suprises. This will include a pre-challenge audit, and systematic seeking of alternatives.
4. Sharing – In passing on our discoveries in a useful way, we decided to be ruthlessly transparent about our successes and struggles, and document these where possible.


The Process

This experiment will involve:
1. your own self-audit – Inventory your bins! looking at what our present waste is made up of.
2. setting some goals for the challenge
3. exploring together possible means of reduction and alternatives – look at things easily changed, things harder to change, things almost impossible to change. (Alternatives include alternative products with minimal packaging and alternative means such as food coops, buying groups, etc).
4. preparation leading up to the trial week (there’s that word again!)
5. reflect and comment on the experience after and/or during the week.

Use these resources to help you start the process.
.‘Waste Inventory’ audit worksheet (75kb, xls)
‘Resources’ worksheet (75kb, xls) – please add to this with your thoughts and ideas

What can do to reduce household waste?

.. some places to start…

  • Compost food scraps. wormfarms, bins, bokashi
  • Recycle. what does your council take? Buy with this in mind.
  • Disposable Nappies. 3.75 Million, each day in Aust & NZ. Eco-alternatives – biodegradable, compostable, or washable cloth
  • BYO bags. green bags, freza bags, calico.
  • Buy in bulk. Sometimes more is more..


Waste – an Artform …also check out these great links worth exploring related to waste:

Chris Jordon: Running the Numbers
Tim Gaudreaus: self-portrait in trash
Recycled art, architecture & design

We are not alone! …other waste trials and resources:

Julie Grundy in her G Challenge Blog goes no packaging – July 16 2009
Fake Plastic Fish Challenge: show us your plastic trash – posted pics of plastic used – May 2009
Plastics forever: one year on the plastics diet blog
No Impact Man – NYC
My Zero Waste – UK
No New Plastic Pledge Ditch the Disposables Challenge!
The No Plastic Holiday Challenge

Life Less Plastic
– blog
Plastic Packaging: Thirty Ways I’m Using Less and Why and The Great Plastic Packaging Reduction Update – Wisebread – US site but good!