Steve’s Zero Waste Week Challenge

When first asked to do the Zero Waste Week Challenge, I was a bit overwhelmed. I didn’t know how I would be able to manage the garbage that I separate every day, but I felt that I should still give it a try.

I discovered that purchasing in bulk (which my wife does weekly) and getting rid of individual wrappers before the challenge allowed me to reduce my trips to the garbage can.


Today I ran into my first problem: How could I serve Zero Waste snacks at the Live Green! meeting Tuesday morning? My coworker, Grace,  had brought back individually wrapped treats from her holiday in Paris, and I was planning on bringing a breakfast pizza with two pieces of corrugated cardboard. We talked about having the pizza place put our order on recyclable tin foil, and then the box could be recycled as well. Grace’s treats could be unwrapped and placed on a serving plate. We also discussed how we could use the packaging from Grace’s treats to create an upcycled craft.



Today’s lunch was a challenge. I always take cheese sticks that are individually wrapped, so I had to deal with the plastic packaging around the cheese stick. I made a cognitive decision every time something was to go into the garbage. Thankfully as I made these decisions, I found that there were ways I could manage my waste. That’s really what this challenge was about – figuring out what I could do instead of filling my garbage bag.


Today was the big team meeting. Unfortunately the pizza location forgot to place tinfoil down as requested, and I ended up with another piece of cardboard to recycle. Grace did a great job with the treats and we made it through successfully without creating too much waste. I also unwrapped my cheese sticks for the week, eliminating my trash use.


Today was jam packed with meetings, lessons, and homework. It was a full day, but I managed to successfully stay away from the garbage can (which I think it is starting to miss my attention).


Earlier in the day I was offered a take out meal from a friend. Of course it was wrapped in foiled paper, so I have a couple pieces of food wrap in my bag – but I’m doing better overall than I thought!


Friday was a short work day. I only had one class, so it was a quick in and out at school. I wasn’t too hard to stay waste-free today. I ate leftovers for lunch and our family meal, so no waste was produced there. With two more days to go, my baggie has about ten items in it. It feels good knowing that I can manage my waste.


On the last day of the challenge, I added one more piece to my bag – popcorn packaging.

Overall as I’ve gone through the week, I think the most important takeaway is the realization that I can thoughtfully manage my waste and eliminate a lot of the garbage I produce from my life. It’s pretty empowering.

It is interesting how much packaging we expect from our food products and the other items we purchase. Shrink-wrapped foods and individually wrapped portions are handy, but they also create a lot of waste. It would be nice to find something that could replace these individual wrappers. For now I’ll just continue to manage my waste!