Zero Waste for a Week Challenge

The Zero Waste for a Week Challenge is a program launched by Moreland City Council in October 2010 to coincide with National Recycling Week.

The Challenge encourages people to shift their behaviour to avoid waste, rather than simply recycling, reusing or disposing of it.

Avoiding waste is a better strategy because it leads to savings in the energy, water and resources used to extract raw materials, transport and produce food items, and for packaging.

The program was last run in November 2013, and focused on avoiding food waste to highlight the impacts this type of waste has on the planet and to provide some easy solutions to reduce it.

Although the Zero Waste for a Week Challenge is now finished, you can still use the information on this page. If you would like to be informed about when the next Challenge is taking place please contact Council.

Why run a Zero Waste for a Week Challange?

Around 30,000 tonnes of waste goes to landfill annually in Moreland - that’s around 525 kilograms per household per year and enough to fill 11 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Why focus on food waste?

Food waste is a huge problem, locally, nationally and globally. In Moreland over half the contents of the average garbage bin is made up of food waste!

Australians throw away an estimated $5.2 billion worth of food every year, or one in five bags of the food they purchase.

When food waste breaks down in landfill it produces the harmful greenhouse gas, methane. This gas is 23 times more potent than the carbon dioxide that comes out of your car exhaust.

Using a compost bin or worm farm for the food waste you do produce is a great way to reduce waste to landfill and recycle nutrients back into your garden. However, what is even better than recycling your food waste is to avoid creating it in the first place.

Food waste avoidance saves all the water, energy and non-renewable resources that went into getting that food from the farm to your plate. Food waste avoidance means only buying what you can use, being creative with what you have in the cupboards and getting your storage right to get the most out of your food.


A total of 78 households took part in the 2013 Challenge. According to those who responded to the evaluation survey the Challenge was a success with all respondents managing to reduce the amount of waste in their garbage bin at the completion of the Challenge. 

Participants changed a range of purchasing habits in order to complete the Challenge, the main one being to stop buying pre-packaged goods and takeaway drink containers. Participants also opted to use their own shopping bags and shop at smaller retailers. Some participants started using cloth nappies, trying to use up all food instead of disposing of it, planning meals, and investing in a worm farm.

Respondents felt that the most useful aspects of doing the Challenge were that it created greater awareness, made them think more about their purchasing decisions and updated their knowledge of recycling.

The most difficult aspects of the Challenge were dealing with waste from items purchased before starting the Challenge, dealing with non-compostable food waste, disposing of personal hygiene products/disposable nappies and planning ahead of time.

If you would like to receive a copy of the full evaluation report, please contact Council.

Please visit the Food page for information and resources on how to cut down your household food waste.

How you can reduce your household waste

Use the information below to reduce your household waste to zero. The first step is to compost your food waste. The next step is to think about what packaging you regularly purchase and also to refresh your knowledge about what can go in your recycling bin.

Turn food waste into food for your garden

The average household garbage bin is between 30 and 40 per cent full of food waste. If you do not already have one you can purchase a compost bin or worm farm from Council, available at wholesale prices with free delivery, or visit CERES or your local nursery or hardware store to purchase one.

Ditch the plastic bags

Most people by now have cottoned on to reusable shopping bags. This is a positive step for the environment however many people are still using single use plastic bags for their fruit and vegetables at the supermarket. Try using Fregie Sacks or other bags that  you can reuse when buying your loose items at the store.

Getting your daily caffeine hit

Cutting down on waste means cutting down on disposables, which means breaking the take away coffee habit. Try sitting in and enjoying your coffee or carry a reusable coffee cup such as the Keep Cup with you. This reusable cup is small and light so you can take it with you everywhere and never be caught out when coffee calls.

Box it don’t wrap it

If you enjoy taking your own lunch to work or school you will need to think about how you package it. Many people rely on single use cling film for sandwiches, biscuits and snacks. Try using a reusable sandwich container or lunchbox to keep your sandwiches or snacks fresh and in one piece.


There are many modern, easy-to-use alternatives to disposable nappies now available including compostable nappies.

Personal hygiene products

There are many good reasons to avoid buying disposable pads and tampons. Most women in their lifetime willl use on average 11,000 tampons or pads. In Australia and New Zealand well over 700 million tampons and 1 billion pads are disposed of in landfill every year. Both come in non-biodegradable plastic packaging and unless you are choosing organic products they will contain bleaching agents which are harmful to the user and to the environment. An alternative is to use reusable pads and menstrual cups. Both are available online and at wholefood stores.

Compostable partywares

When organising events, parties and functions if you are unable to use real crockery and cutlery consider compostables as an alternative to disposables. It is possible to find a large range of plates, cutlery, cups and other items made from bamboo, palm leaves and corn starch online that can be composted rather than landfilled. For more information on bioplastics visit World Centric, for supplies visit Green Pack or Going Green Solutions.

Avoid packaging

One of the biggest challenges when cutting down on waste is avoiding plastic packaging. Everything these days seems to come wrapped in plastic of one type or another! There are several shops in Moreland that offer loose, bulk items such as rice, pasta, cereals, grains, coffee, nuts, flours and refillable options for olive oil, shampoo, laundry liquid and washing up liquid to name just a few. You can take your own containers to fill up and save on packaging. See below for details.

Refresh your recycling knowledge

Purchasing items with recyclable packaging will also help you reduce waste. Check the recycling page to refresh your knowledge of what can go in the kerbside recycling bin and chose items that come packaged in these materials. 

There are many items that can’t go in the recycling bin but can be recycled if dropped off at a collection point. Check the A-Z guide to waste and recycling to find out where you can recycle items such as batteries, CDs and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

A-Z of waste avoidance

The Rubbish Free Guide offers tips and suggestions on how to reduce or elimate waste to landfill. Presented as a comprehensive A-Z  you can search by product for waste free alternatives. 

Where to go for unpackaged bulk items in Moreland

The Brunswick Uniting Church has a monthly food co-op where you can purchase cheap, unpackaged, dry goods and green cleaning products. Where possible the co-op tries to source organic and Australian grown products.

The following shops sell goods in bulk and you can take your own containers to fill up. If you know of any other bulk buy shops in Moreland that aren’t listed here please use the feedback form to let us know.

Organic Wholefoods

483 Lygon Street, Brunswick East. Phone 9384 0288 visit Whole Foods
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 9 am - 6.30 pm / Friday 9 am - 7 pm / Saturday 9 am - 5.30 pm / Sunday 11 am -  4 pm

CERES Shoppe

Corner Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East. Phone 9387 2609 visit CERES
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 9 am – 5 pm

The Source Bulk Foods Brunswick

112 Sydney Road, Brunswick. Phone 03 9388 1005. Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.30 am - 7 pm / Saturday 9 am - 5 pm / Sunday 10 am - 5 pm. Visit the website for more details.

Where to go for unpackaged bulk items in other areas

Friends of the Earth Food Co-op

312 Smith Street, Collingwood. Phone 9417 4382 visit Friends of the Earth
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 9 am – 5 pm / Saturday 10 am – 4 pm / Sunday 11 am – 4 pm

Naturally on High

697 High Street, Thornbury. Phone 9484 7131
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday 9 am - 5 pm / Sunday 10 am - 2 pm

Grasslands Grocery and Catering

211 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone 9362 0830 visit Grasslands Organic
Opening hours: Thursday 10 am - 6 pm

Plump Organic Grocery

24 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone 9687 6422 visit Plump

Organic Wholefoods

227 Smith Street, Fitzroy. Phone 9419 5347 visit Wholefoods
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9 am - 6.30 pm / Sunday 11 am - 5 pm

The Fruit Pedallers

103 High Street, Northcote. Phone 9489 5824 
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9 am - 7.30 pm / Sunday 10 am - 7.30

Joe's Organic Markets

64 Victoria Road, Northcote. Phone 9077 2746 visit Joe's Organic
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10 am - 8 pm / Sunday 11 am - 8 pm

Melbourne University Food Co-op

1st Floor, Union House, Melbourne University, Parkville. Phone 9347 8716

Queen Victoria Market

Organic Indulgence
Stall 46-49, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne.

Organics at the Market
Stall 50-55, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne.

Vic Market Organics
Stall 58-64, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne. Visit Ripe Organics

Garden Organics
Stall 71-77, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne. Phone 9329 4228

Some other ideas to help you reduce waste

  • Grow your own fruit and vegetables – avoid packaging and produce healthy, organic food. Visit Sustainable Gardening Australia for factsheets, advice and information.
  • Buy organic produce - join a box scheme for your organic vegetables – avoid packaging and have fresh organic produce delivered to your door.
  • Use the All Recipes website to get recipe ideas for food left over in the fridge or pantry. You can type in ingredients and it will find you great recipes.
  • Join a local home grown produce exchange and swap your excess fruit and vegetables.
  • Make your own cleaning products – avoid packaging and keep your home free of toxins. Visit Back to Basics Cleaning for advice, recipes and tips.
  • Use rechargeable batteries – avoid single use batteries.
  • Buy products that last - consider what the product is made from and how well it is made rather than just what it costs.
  • Choose products with replaceable parts – you may not be able to reuse the whole product but reusing a part of it is better than nothing.
  • Drink tap water – avoid disposable plastic bottles. Learn more about the environmental impacts of water bottles at the Story of Stuff website.
  • Buy second hand – chose to reuse. Choosing second hand over newly made products saves resources, water, energy and CO2 emissions.

Zero waste blogs from home and abroad


For more information on how to reduce waste contact Council.