What is Doing the Waste Bucket Challenge Like?

Monday, February 27, 2017

the waste diversion coordinator holds up a small container

Every year during RecycleMania the Waste bucket challenge is issued. What is the Waste Bucket challenge? It is trying to live waste free for a period of time during RecyleMania. This may seem impossible but Brigitte Morin, uOttawa's Waste Diversion Coordinator, has done it many times successfully. Here is what she had to say about it.

It’s all about preparation
Brigitte says the key to succeeding in this challenge is to prepare. You have to think about it all ahead of time, what you have to buy, what meals you are making etc.

Stuff you have at home already counts
If you have food in disposable containers at home you need to finish them before the challenge starts because if you finish them while on the challenge you have to count it as waste.

You don’t have to produce zero waste just less than normal
When people hear about the challenge they assume they cannot produce any waste to be successful, but that’s not the truth. The challenge is about reducing waste not eliminating it entirely. Just producing less than normal is a success.

You prepare a lot of your meals
Because you are trying to produce less waste you buy less prepared meals and by result cook your own. This carries over into your life after the challenge and is beneficial to your health.

Find places that will work with you
Brigitte found a butcher who lets her bring her own containers and get her meat that way. She has even gotten a cheese shop to do the same thing. Calling restaurants before you go to find out what type of take-out containers so you can bring your own if theirs are not recyclable/compostable. It’s all about making the effort, once you do it’s actually quite easy.

Some things are unavoidable
Some thing are just impossible to avoid. Brigitte’s child needed certain medications while she was doing the challenge and all the seals from the meds counted as waste. Things like this are hard to plan for and impossible to avoid.

A lot of stuff is compostable and recyclable (i.e. not waste)
People throw out a lot of compostable and recyclable items, these don’t count as waste so if you can figure out what is then you automatically reduce your waste.

Recycling and compost bins at the University of Ottawa

And as a little inspiration to try it out yourself, This is the amount of waste Brigitte produced during a particularly successful challenge of two months.

Ll of Brigitte's waste collected during the Waste Bucket Challenge

~ clarissa - communications intern

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