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On a Mission to Create Our Zero Waste Nation and Globe

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About Trash On Your Back

1208987_10201696946402556_63773646_nWho: Many have been part of the Trash On Your Back 5-Day Challenge and even more will be participating in 2016. Just to name a few:

  • MIT Climate Interactive Executive Director, Drew Jones
  • United States EPA Senior Counsel at the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Matt Bogoshian
  • Atlanta Falcons Stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins
  • Green Schools National Network President/CEO Jim McGrath
  • University of New Hampshire Climatologist, Cameron Wake
  • United States Navy Retired Admiral Len Hering
  • City of Huntington Beach City Council Member and Former Mayor Joe Carchio
  • Aloha Grill Restaurateur & General Manager, Bobbie Kneeland
  • Ideas for Us Executive Director, Chris Castro
  • Waste Management Vice President, Tom Carpenter
  • Randolph Elementary School 5th Graders

Our participants see the big picture impact of trash on the planet, and now you and everyone across the globe can join in too!

What: A fun, high visibility 5-day campaign driving awareness and education on our own personal trash impact. Carry the Trash on Your Back wherever you go and feel just how much trash you really produce. Enable us to create a zero waste nation and globe.

Zero Waste Defined

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

Zero Waste International Alliance

When: Take the Trash On Your Back 5-Day Challenge on Earth Day Week: Mon-Fri, April 18th–22nd, 2016 or anytime during the year! Just e-mail us at and we will come and see you and your organization. What’s your trash impact?

Where: All around the world – We are all in this together.

Girl in pink - TOYB
The Problem: Our two greatest landfills our Earth and our oceans.
The Solution: A trash-free planet for our kids, with opportunities to create new products through innovation that will sell and reduce our trash impact on the planet!

“It’s kind of archaic if we stop and really think about it, that all of our non-recycled and compost trash ends up in a hole that we cover up on the earth, or floating in our oceans. We as a global nation are smarter than this, right? And we have choices to push manufacturing towards building sustainable products that are compostable and recyclable. Really all we have to do is choose what we buy so eventually we get out of landfill products and can support our next generations with clean oceans and no holes in the ground full of trash.”
— Diana Dehm, Founder of Trash On Your Back

  • The U.S. generates 1.3 billion pounds of trash per day and spends $12 billion dollars per year on waste management alone. Just a 50% reduction is a $6 billion dollar opportunity for the United States.
  • We cracked the code: the average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash per day. But last year, participants in the Trash On Your Back 5-Day Challenge knocked down their average to only 0.8 lbs per day. Do the math: we reduced our trash by 82% in less than a week through making good choices and not wanting to carry a heavy bag of trash!
  • After recycling, about 80% of our nation’s garbage goes to landfills.
  • The National Academy of Sciences estimated 14 billion pounds of trash is being dumped in the ocean every year from boats and ships, a third coming from the United States.
  • By reducing our trash impact, we reduce the pressure on our natural environment, and increase the vitality of our communities

How It All Began: Back in 1989, Andrew Jones (Co-Director Climate Interactive, MIT) and a bunch of his college buddies at Dartmouth College, decided to carry their trash with them for a week. This experience gave them perspective on what their personal trash impact was on the planet. At the time, the environmental movement was just gaining steam and recycling was still a new concept. They began to make choices to buy differently, consume differently so as to not have to lug their trash around. If by carrying your trash for one week, you change your behavior everyday – that creates real change for all of us! One of their biggest learning opportunities was to opt for the draft or keg beer, because bottles are heavy to carry with your for a week, not to mention more trash!

Diana Dehm learned about this from Drew on her radio program Sustainability News & Entertainment Radio, and exclaimed “that sounds like that idea needs to be recycled!” From that point on, it was game on. She came up with the name, and the Trash On Your Back 5-Day Challenge was born.