Zero Waste Week campaign Facts

Summary of history and roots of the Zero Waste Week campaign. Started originally by Rachelle Strauss, following the Bostcastle flood 2004. Now reaching a global following with millions of people, action groups, businesses and organisations taking part.

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Zero Waste week was founded by Rachelle Strauss in 2008 and began as a National UK Campaign.Campaigns last a week and take place annually during the first full week in September.

The campaign runs predominantly on social media and the website ZeroWasteWeek to reach a community of like-minded people who want to reduce residential or commercial waste, reuse materials and recycle as much as possible. The aim of the campaign is to help householders, businesses, schools and community groups increase recycling, reduce landfill waste and participate in the circular economy – in alignment with European recommendations and Directives.

Zero Waste Week was created a non-commercial grass roots campaign to demonstrate means and methods to reduce waste, foster community support and bring awareness to the increasing problem of environmental waste and pollution. The term ‘Zero Waste Week’ is now used by many organisations, groups and individuals not connected to the original campaign. (See Other campaigns for Zero Waste Week below) Local and national events are held annually where participants and communities make a concerted effort to demonstrate that household, business and industrial waste can be eliminated or reduced.


The roots of the Zero Waste Week campaign emerged from the Boscastle flood of 2004. The Strauss family were caught in the village of Boscastle when a freak rain storm swelled 2 rivers meeting an incoming tide at the estuary. The ensuing deluge washed away many of the historic buildings and shops, along with several cars and possessions. The tragic event inspired Rachelle Strauss to set-up the Gloucestershire The Freecycle Network, a non-profit worldwide charitable organisation gifting reusable goods in order to divert from the landfill.

The freak weather event was her wake up call to the real possibility that man made climate change may have contributed to the Boscastle flood. During the following years the Strauss Family developed their interests in sustainable living as a personal challenge to lessen their environmental impact. In 2008 Rachelle Strauss setup her website and blog and in September 2008 she launched the first Zero Waste Week online campaign to reduce, reuse and recycle as an public participatory Zero Waste week event with this official announcement.

The campaign continued to be held on the my zero waste website up until Zero Waste Week September 2013. The domain name was registered to host all subsequent Zero Waste Week campaigns. Whois Domain Tools (private registration no ownership details)

In 2018 the campaign reached its ten year milestone. and grown an international following of over 56 million participants worldwide.

Impact and reach

Zero Waste Week began in the UK in September 2008 with a modest following and participation. Competition Feedback The campaign has continued to grow on a regular basis and now has reached public participation from seventy-three countries (2017). Many countries run their own Zero Waste Week campaign in co-ordination with the original Zero Waste week or independently. See Zero Waste Event

Mission and Objectives

The term ‘Zero waste’ is an inaccurate Neologism that in most cases expresses an unrealistic ideal. However, the concept of Zero Waste is ethically and morally driven through a shared understanding among subscribers for the need to reduce waste as far as possible to Zero in order to maintain environmental sustainability. This concept is inspired largely by the natural eco system that efficiently reduces nearly all organic substances to reusable components to provide new life and growth. This symbiotic life cycle is both sustainable and renewable, providing a well proven model for human adoption. See Ecosystem.

Zero Waste Week recognises the need to use natural Compost from organic food waste to provide a useful plant nutrient product as opposed to putting food in landfill where it produces methane, a global warming greenhouse gas. The campaign also tackles the problem of disposal of many non-organic synthetic materials, such as plastic material packaging and non-biodegradable man-made products, that are producing a global problem to the environment in both volume and toxicity. See Plastic Pollution

Zero Waste week actively encourages people to reduce the use of synthetic materials and plastic packaging and seek alternative methods of transporting and storing food. As part of the growing trend for Sustainability many foods can now be purchased unpackaged, or loose from shop shelves. Due to the ubiquitous use of plastics that cannot be avoided, Zero Waste Week also demonstrates methods of plastic reuse, as well as conscientious recycling to reduce the burden on landfill, incineration and environmental contamination. Zero Waste week adopts the adage there’s no such place as away meaning when we throw something away, it goes somewhere else, often causing harm or toxicity to the eco-system. The campaign's main directive is to bring awareness to people that we are all individually and collectively responsible for what we consume and that the short time of usefulness is only a small part of the overall life cycle of any product.

Like many grass roots campaigns, Zero Waste Week has a high end goal working from the bottom up to influence consumer awareness and habits. In so doing the long term goal is to generate more demand for sustainable products, by creating a significant change in shopping trends. Also to lobby producers, governmental decision makers and bring awareness for the need of good custodianship to the upcoming generation.


The campaign has been featured in several local, national and international publications. It should be noted that Rachelle Strauss is often mentioned in regards to the Zero Waste Week campaign as she is the author and founder of the project. Also the website is frequently cited as this was the initial website that hosted the first Zero Waste Week campaigns from 2008 to 2013.

UK Parliament Early Day Motion

Session: 2015-16, Date tabled: 10.09.2015, Primary sponsor: Ferrier, Margaret.

“That this House celebrates Zero Waste Week 2015, which runs between 7 and 13 September 2015; notes that it is in its eighth year owing to the hard work of founder Rachelle Strauss, co-ordinating the project in her own free time; further notes that this campaign has been successful on social media in encouraging people, businesses and charities to do more to minimise their waste by promoting re-use; agrees that reusing and recycling is vital to the preservation of this planet; and calls on the House to legislate to reduce waste and promote re-use.”

The Prime Minister's Points of Light Award

Rachelle Strauss received the Points Of Light award September 2018 for her work on Zero Waste Week.

Screenshot taken from Twitter, September 5, 2016 showing that the #ZeroWasteWeek trended in the UK for nine hours

“Zero Waste Week is inspiring people around the world to dramatically reduce the waste they create for good. By sharing your own experiences as a family and suggesting simple ways people can recycle and reuse you are making it easy and fun for as many people as possible to get involved in your important campaign.” 'The Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Theresa May.'

Hot 100 Award

Rachelle Strauss Winner of the Resource 'Hot 100 list 2014' after being voted as the ‘brightest spark’ of the waste and resources industry.

Zero Waste Week Trended on Twitter

Trended on twitter 2016, 2017, 2018 Twitter’s API restricts static reference to historical trending data. See Screenshot.

Film appearances

Appeared in the National Geographic Documentary Naked Science Series: ‘Surviving Nature’s Fury’ 2005 IMDB: Rachelle Strauss

Appeared in The movie TRASHED starring Jeremy Irons. Segment starting 1:14:18 Rachelle Strauss talks to Jeremy irons about zero waste opportunities. segment with Rachelle Strauss discussing Zero Waste with Jeremy Irons

Appeared in the film Documentary 'One Bin Family' April 2011 Prosieben Free-to-air television Network ProSieben Discussing and demonstrating many ways to reduce household waste, reuse materials and recycle responsibly.Online documentary -Familie ohne Müll (German)

Other campaigns for Zero Waste Week

The term Zero Waste Week has been gradually adopted by other campaigns and organisations to run a week of events and activities to highlight the need to reduce waste materials and foster recycling methods and reuse. The themes and topics usually correspond with the original concepts to reduce, reuse and recycle waste materials, often with focus on specific current sustainability issues, such as reducing the use of plastics and food waste. The following list of websites is a sample of references to Zero Waste Week campaigns:

National Marine Sanctuaries

Students For Zero Waste Week Students for Zero Waste Week is a school-driven, week-long campaign to reduce waste on school campuses and within local communities with the intention of moving towards zero waste. First started in 2015-2016

Zero Waste Week London

Zero Waste London is pioneering meetup group that organises and promotes Zero Waste events taking place in London. Founded in 2016 by Maria (who started the group by hosting workshops in the living room of her flat in Shepherds Bush.

Zero Waste Scotland

Zero Waste Week Scotland Much of their activity is concerned with working directly with others on a day to day basis, they provide support, guidance and in some cases funding to a wide range of partner organisations. This includes work with businesses, the public sector, local authorities, community groups and industry bodies.

Northern California Recycling Association (NCRA)

NCRA is an association of recycling businesses, community groups, municipalities, and individuals committed to promoting, expanding, and institutionalizing recycling. Founded in 1978, NCRA is a nonprofit trade organization for recyclers with around 200 members, the majority of whom are located in Northern California. Boat rockers, we are active locally, regionally, state-wide and nationally depending on what needs to be done.

Harvard University | Sustainability

Harvard University | Sustainability For Earth Week 2014, Gutman Café tried to divert as much of its trash as possible from the landfill, by collecting everything it couldn’t recycle or compost in one trash bag. At the end of the Zero Waste week, the Green Team investigated the results to see just how close HGSE’s primary dining location could get to “zero-waste.”

Hong Kong Cleanup

ZeroWasteWeek ecozine and Hong Kong Cleanup This is a week long campaign incorporating public awareness and on-ground activities. The aim is to develop the concept of Zero Waste in Hong Kong. Anyone can be part of the solution! Simply start with a pledge to reduce your waste to landfill during Zero Waste Week – or any time of the year!

Peterborough. Creating the UK’s Environmental Capital

Peterborough Zero Waste Week UK's Environment Capital is a vision for a truly sustainable Peterborough. It is a commitment to put the environment first, to continually aspire for improvement and to be recognised as a city with an innovative approach to sustainable development. Every year there is a national ‘Zero Waste Week’ helping to reduce landfill and save money.

Zero Waste International Alliance

Zero Waste International Alliance has been established to promote positive alternatives to landfill and incineration and to raise community awareness of the social and economic benefits to be gained when waste is regarded as a resource base upon which can be built both employment and business opportunity.

The Island's Sounder

Orcas Christian School For the first week of April, Orcas Christian School invited Salmonberry, as well as some local businesses, to do a “Zero Waste Week.” The focus was on sustainability and re-usability. Inspired by documentaries filmed by OCS student Dylan D’Haeze, a Zero Waste Week spends a week bringing awareness to the amount of waste each person and institution creates.

Emory University (The Emory Wheel)

Emory University OSI/ RHA Zero Waste Week is an event joint-hosted by the Office of Sustainable Initiatives (OSI) and the Residence Hall Association (RHA) Sustainability Chairs to raise awareness and support for sustainable practices on campus. Students interested in reducing their waste signed up to participate received email reminders and tips about living waste-free.

New York University (nyulocal)

It’s Zero Waste Week At NYU, Time To Carry Your Trash This initiative is NYU’s Zero Waste Week presented by the Office of Sustainability where student and faculty are encouraged to carry around their waste to physically “feel the weight of the waste.”

The Hong Kong Economic Journal (ejinsight)

Nature lovers vow to clean up Hong Kong Waters. If you commit your energies to protecting the oceans, it helps to live close to the sea. That’s how Toronto-born Lisa Christensen found her calling growing up in a small town on the US east coast, where she developed a healthy respect for nature. Christensen has recently introduced Zero Waste Week to Hong Kong businesses to promote reduction of plastic and paper waste.

St Augustine - Flagler College ( online news and information portal)

Flagler students get a lesson in composting, recycling About 40 students participated in Zero Waste Week, a project challenging them to live sustainably by practising the four R’s: Refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle. The guiding principle of Zero Waste Week is that with enough imagination, almost any item can be re-purposed.


Kane, Annie (January 16, 2015). "Rachelle Strauss is the 'brightest spark' of the waste industry". Resource Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2018.