October is Zero Waste Month. Dark green background, white and orange text.

#ZeroWasteMonth FAQ

Jump to your question:

What is zero waste?

As an affiliate of the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), we hold to this peer-reviewed internationally accepted definition of Zero Waste: 

“Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.” – ZWIA

As we see, by following zero waste principles, companies design products so that they are used according to the principle of highest and best use. This is so that resources are conserved and nothing is sent to landfill or for incineration.

Additionally, Race to Zero Waste recognizes that zero waste lifestyles and policies can not be implemented without special regard to social equity and environmental justice issues. Our zero waste movement has compassion and understanding that we are often bound by circumstances in our ability to participate. Whatever your circumstances, know that taking any action that is accessible to you is a step forward to show that we, as a society, are ready for systemic change.

The hierarchy of zero waste

We reference the TRUE Certification and ZWIA for a holistic zero waste hierarchy.

↓ REDUCE – the most important choice of all is to REDUCE consumption and therefore the potential waste of valuable resources. Reducing our consumption helps the environment the most, both from a consumer standpoint and from manufacturing source-reduction. Let’s all vow to USE LESS. If you do not need it, REFUSE it.

Zero Waste International Alliance approved hierarchy of zero waste. a rainbow coloured inverted triangle with good at the top = blue and red at the bottom = bad. From the top: Rethink/Redesign, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle/Compost, Materials recovery, residual waste management, waste to energy (unacceptable).

↓REDESIGN (RETHINK) – this incorporates both an individual and a business perspective for how we can reduce the materials needed and the waste involved in the production process. We can train ourselves to think through what we need in our personal lives and in our professional lives. Question the status quo!

↓ REUSE – Reusing keeps materials in circulation and saves energy from the extraction of raw materials and the manufacturing process. For instance, reusable water bottles, cutlery, bags, containers are all important steps to reduce personal consumption and reduce dependence on single-use disposable items.

↓RE-EARTH (COMPOST) – Composting food scraps and yard trimmings significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, helps replenish soils, and revitalizes healthy ecosystems.

↓RECYCLE – Recycling  greatly increases the amount of recyclable materials available to make new products, reducing the need to extract virgin and finite resources. Unfortunately, not everything can be recycled efficiently, nor is there a market for all kinds of materials. This is why recycling is a last resort rather than a primary option.

Zero waste, accessibility, and equity 

It is without a doubt a privilege to have a choice of what to buy, how to spend your money, and where to live. Despite the image of “zero waste” as an affluent, mostly white movement that includes an aesthetic photo of a tiny amount of trash in a mason jar, R20W believes that zero waste is about doing what we can within our capacities to minimize our waste. Simultaneously, we affirm that the world needs systemic change to really make zero waste an automatic, accessible, convenient lifestyle for all.

Race to Zero Waste supports communities and governments in both individual action and in the policy work needed to move towards a just and equitable circular economy. We know that the problematic habits of the most affluent are those that need urgent change! However, we can all continue to engage in reducing consumption, reusing items we have, repairing those items when they tear or break, promoting industries and companies that are participating in circular economies, and supporting policies that accomplish these goals.

Research shows that those most affected by climate change and environmental degradation are marginalized communities of color. For this reason, we subscribe to the principles of intersectional environmentalism, an inclusive form of environmental protection that fights for the preservation of all people and the planet, learning from and ensuring that marginalized and indigenous communities have a seat at the table of all environmental discussions and decisions. The zero waste movement is not exempt from these critical social considerations. Race to Zero Waste is committed to environmental justice as we raise awareness of the link between our day-to-day actions and environmental impacts.

What is #ZeroWasteMonth?

#ZeroWasteMonth, previously called #ZeroWasteActionMonth, is an annual campaign put on by Race to Zero Waste. During Zero Waste Month, we turn the Race to Zero Waste into a SPRINT! Join in and make an extra effort, try something new in your journey toward zero waste, and share on social media! 


Zero Waste Action Month Oct 2021. Join the SPRINT by sharing your actions on social media #ZeroWasteActionMonth and @racetozerowaste. Weekly themes include Textiles, Durables, Compost, and Zero Waste Policies. #SprinttoZeroWaste!

Throughout #ZeroWasteMonth, we highlight expert voices and advocacy groups that are advancing the zero waste mission. We also discuss equity and accessibility concerns within the zero waste movement.

Each week during Zero Waste Month, we focus on a theme to guide the conversation and provide some ideas. During each weekly theme (see below ‘What are the weekly themes?’) we share educational content and starter tips, we dive a little deeper with expert interviews, and we ask participants to share their experiences and get involved in their community!

To participate in this social campaign, share your zero waste actions on social media using the hashtag #ZeroWasteMonth! Invite your friends and community to join in!

Why did R20W start Zero Waste Month?

The metaphorical Race to Zero Waste is an ultra marathon. During Zero Waste Month, we turn the race into a SPRINT! #ZeroWasteMonth is a global grassroots campaign that brings our actions together to encourage each other! We share ideas and can dig a little deeper and make an extra effort during the month! Each post inspires us with small actions and big initiatives that we can support. We may even begin to implement change in our own communities, and brings new people into the zero waste movement. Since we know there can be fluctuations in our motivation to keep going or to try out new things, #ZeroWasteMonth is for sharing your efforts and getting excited about collective action!

 What are the weekly themes?

Our 2022 themes are: Grassroots Movements, Community Empowerment, Zero Waste Policies, and Waste Colonialism. 

In 2021, our four weekly themes were: Textile Reuse and Repair, Reusables and Durable Goods, Carbon Sequestration through Compost, and Environmental Justice in Zero Waste Policies.

The themes are there to offer guidance for the kinds of actions that you can take. They aren’t a rule or a law of what you must post about during the campaign! We chose these themes to be an inspirational mix of relatively easy individual actions and more community-wide advocacy actions. Take what you like, leave what you don’t, just share your actions with us using #ZeroWasteMonth!

Why should I participate?

By participating in #ZeroWasteMonth, you are helping to make it clear that the public (that’s all of us!) is shifting our perspective away from a consumer society to one that is conscientious of our resource use and how it affects other communities around the world. This shift in public opinion is what informs businesses and politicians that they need to start making changes!

How do I participate?

 It’s easy! To participate in this global social campaign, share your zero waste actions on social media using the hashtag #ZeroWasteMonth! Don’t forget to tag us @racetozerowaste on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn! Invite your friends and community to join the SPRINT!

Need some ideas? 

The weekly themes might inspire you, or you can use the 7 Rs below! You can also check out our blogs!


Did you learn something new about zero waste? Share it! We can learn, too!

Did you #refuse something with unsustainable packaging? Share it! We can celebrate those wins!

Did you #reduce your food waste by getting creative with leftovers? Share it!

Did you #re-earth by starting a compost bin or keeping a successful one? Share your technique!

Did you #reuse an old lonely sock to fix your mop head to your broken mop handle? (true story)

Did you #repair a shirt seam or a loose button on a clothing item? Share it!

Did you #repurpose an old soup pot into a drumset for your kid? Share those tunes!

Did you find a new way to #recycle materials and make them into something else? Share it!

Contact   Privacy

Copyright 2023, Race To Zero Waste, All Rights Reserved.

Developed with open source software on solar powered servers by Mobius Intelligent Systems.

Race to Zero Waste is a California Nonprofit Corporation exempt from federal tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service #83-3305529.