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Plastic Free Challenge (Ongoing)


So much plastic is thrown away each year that putting it all together creates enough material to circle the Earth four times. Ouch. More than 99 percent of plastics come from chemicals derived from fossil fuels (petrochemicals), and only about 9 percent of plastic is recycled for reuse. Approximately 500,000 straws are thrown away each day. It is estimated that each American generates 185 pounds of plastic each year. Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Nearly 600 million pounds of plastic fill our oceans, draining from our fresh bodies of water — which we contribute to here in the Midwest! These are frightening statistics! How much of what’s listed above do you think comes from single-use plastics, or items that individuals use and throw away every day? Luckily, you came across this challenge! YOU have the power to change these statistics for the better. 


Thank you for taking the first step to living a more plastic-free lifestyle and being conscious of your plastic consumption. You are helping combat climate change by reducing the demand for fossil fuels and pollution from landfills; your actions make a difference by reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in our streets, landfills, and bodies of water.

Together, we can make a difference!

The most important step is registering to participate with our interest form. Then, you’ll receive a weekly grid to fill out with the items that you throw in the garbage each day and track your waste with our predetermined point system. While not every plastic item is included, we made the list as comprehensive as possible. We encourage you to use your best judgment and add an appropriate number of points if you throw away an unlisted item. 

The goal is to earn as few points as possible. Subtract points from your weekly total when you complete positive, waste-conscious actions. At the end of each week, upload your grid and reflection to the weekly Google Form, which you’ll receive via email.

Please note: Points are generated based on items thrown in the trash. Before choosing to throw an item away, please consider whether it can be reused or recycled (recycling does not affect points).

Click to view and download the Plastic Free Challenge Point System.

The Plastic Free Challenge is about more than points and prizes (although both of those are fun, too!). We encourage you to reflect on your waste at the end of each day and each week. Ideally, your average weekly plastic waste will decrease.

Throughout the challenge, we will send out resources to check in and provide guidance. Remember, this is a challenge! It may not be easy, but we can guarantee that by participating, you’ll become more conscious of how much plastic you throw away. Plus, you’ll be part of a fun, interactive, and sustainable community!

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