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zero waste

How much trash do we generate?
Where does our trash go once we throw it away?
And should we care?

These are the questions that the “Zero Waste Challenge” seeks to address. Why is it socially acceptable to put as much trash as you please in the trashcan, but not in a bag you carry with you? People who take on this challenge are usually amazed at what they find.

Take part in the Challenge!

Eco-Reps with their Zero-Waste bags

Eco-Reps with their Zero-Waste bags

It’s easy – the idea is to collect everything that you don’t recycle or compost (or otherwise legitimately divert from the trash),  in a clear bag, and then carry the bag with you for a week. The bag should be prominently displayed or clipped to your backpack or bag. Try it, even for only part of the week. You will be surprised at how much you learn about how much waste you produce, your own habits, and how your decision making changes when your trash is connected to you! (Why is that?)

Read about others’ experiences with the challenge on our blog.

How to participate

If you would like to try the Zero Waste Challenge yourself or organize a Zero Waste Week for a group or organization, follow these simple rules:

  • Zero Waste Challenge LogoTake a gallon zip-loc bag (or other large, clear bag) and affix the “Zero Waste Challenge” sticker to the outside. You can either:
    • Ask your Eco-Rep for a challenge kit.
    • Make your own. Download and print your own sticker here.
  • Any waste that you do not actually recycle or compost (or otherwise legitimately divert from the trashcan) goes in the bag. One-time use water bottles go in the bag too – there’s no excuse for them!
  • Please do not put any biohazards in the bag.
  • The bag should be attached to the outside of your backpack or bag at all times.
  • If you or your group participates in this challenge, please share stories and pictures by posting on the Office of Sustainability Facebook page about your experiences!


  • RECYCLING: Unsure what item goes where and where to recycle – visit the Tufts How-To Recycle Webpage for detailed information
  • COMPOSTING: Information on composting drop-off sites can be found on the Tufts Eco-Map, and you can learn more about how to compost at Tufts here.
  • SPECIALTY RECYCLING ITEMS: Energy bar wrappers, batteries, plastic film, and other items that don’t belong in your normal recycling bin can be recycled at select locations on campus. Learn more here.

For any questions about the challenge or how to recycle at Tufts, you can also email

Get Inspired

Check out the blogs Trash is for Tossers and Zero Waste Home for tips on waste-free living!