I am not a fan of “challenges” – you know, when a group or person says “I am issuing a challenge for you to do XYZ!” rather than saying “You should do XYZ because of these reasons”. Challenges strike me as a cheap way to make a point of view seem more noble or important than it really is.

But I’m going to publicize one anyway: The Conservation Law Foundation is having a Zero Waste Challenge that has an interesting twist:

For one week, November 3–9, we are challenging you to reduce your trash (and recycling) in your home, your office, and your community. By joining our Challenge, you’ll discover tricks of the trade to living a zero-waste lifestyle, while also learning about long-term solutions for creating a more sustainable, zero-waste future across New England. 

You can read about it here. What’s important, however, is that they acknowledge that this is NOT the solution, or even a big part of the solution, to all our waste and pollution issues:

The reality is, individual change alone cannot solve our trash crisis. Yes, we can all recycle more, switch to reusable bottles and containers, and start composting. And we should.

Ultimately, though, creating a zero-waste future requires action by lawmakers, manufacturers, and retailers, among others. That means changing the way products are made and packaged, rethinking what gets thrown away and what gets reused, and reforming our recycling system.

The best way for you to help create this future is as a constituent, putting pressure on your state legislators to pass plastic bag bans and other zero-waste laws; as a consumer, pushing manufacturers to change their polluting products; and as a customer, asking your local store to stock items with less wasteful packaging.

But we know from experience that, when you’re entangled in a dysfunctional system, it can be hard to see the paths to change from the inside. That’s why we are challenging you to make your life zero waste for just one week – so you can get a view of our current waste system from the outside and find the cracks in it that will help us tear it down.

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