4 simple zero waste workshops for your community - Green Indy Blog

4 simple zero waste workshops for your community

Are you a group or business in Indiana interested in zero waste workshops? Get in touch – I love holding them!

It’s all well and good to read books and blog posts describing a lifestyle and how to live it, but it’s another thing entirely to experience it for yourself.

I know personally zero waste workshops opened my mind to exciting possibilities and empowered me to make tangible differences!

Creating something themselves gives people pride of ownership. Not only will they be more likely to utilize the product itself, but they’ll be much more willing to talk about it to friends and family. One more diabolical way to spread the word of zero waste!

Workshop layout example

Each workshop I lead generally has the same format, no matter what I’m making. Why mess with what works, right?

Here’s an example of a typical workshop more fully laid out (obviously you’ll want to flesh all of this out and make it natural to you, but this is the general idea):

Introduce yourself & your zero waste background

Hi, my name is Polly Barks and I’m the founder of Green Indy, a blog dedicated to making zero waste practices more accessible to everyone. I’ve been seriously committed to zero waste since fall of 2016, but have been experimenting with the idea for almost three years. I currently live in a small house with my husband and cat; combined, we take our garbage and recycling to the curb once every two months. We do produce landfill trash, we’re not perfectly zero waste – my husband is definitely not always interested – but I’m constantly working to reduce our trash and be kinder to the environment.

Define & explain zero waste

For those who don’t know, zero waste is basically a concept in which – ideally – all resources will be reused and nothing will be sent to the landfill. Of course, that’s impossible in our current economy, so “zero waste” is really just a term for people to use when they talk about the conscious reduction of waste.

The concept of zero waste comes with five Rs which help you to understand what our relationship should be towards items:

Refuse: pretty simple. If you don’t absolutely need it, say no. Ignore the plastic packaged junk food – you don’t need it.
Reduce: try to consume less of the items that you do need.
Reuse: when, say, you buy a jar of salsa from the store, reuse the jar as storage for dry goods rather than simply recycling it.
Rot: compost! Do not send organic material to the landfill, where it will not get oxygen and therefore not break down.
Recycle: while recycling is wonderful, it’s not the best for our environment as it takes a lot of energy to recycle items. Try to avoid recycling by using the methods above.

Create your item

The most fun part – actually making your thing! Detailed instructions on how to make each product are listed at the end of each workshop section in this post.

Discuss local application of item

Make sure to create a local connection for your participants once they’ve completed the workshop. Suggest stores where they could either use what they’ve made or where they can purchase ingredients to make it in the future. This may also be helpful for securing sponsorship or collaborating with local businesses if you consider this before setting up the workshop!

You should also include time for a brief Q&A session after each workshop in order to answer people’s questions, whether specific to the workshop or not!

4 simple zero waste workshops for your community - Green Indy Blog

Workshop #1: no-sew bags

You can only move away from plastic bags when you have an alternative – why not make your own super-simple bags from old t-shirts? These bags are quick and the act of creating the bag themselves makes participants much more likely to use them in the future. This workshop is great for kids or larger groups with a limited budget as old tees can be sourced for free from friends and family.

Time: approximately 30 minutes – 1 hour
Cost: free
Supplies: old but still-presentable t-shirts, scissors

How to
  1. Cut off arms and cut a deep neckline.
  2. Cut fabric from the bottom of the t-shirt to make it the size you want (optional).
  3. At the bottom of the t-shirt, cut fringe strips about 2-3 inches long and 1 inch wide.
  4. Tie the front and back fringe pieces together (on the inside for a neater look).
Workshop #2: DIY deodorant

I’d recommend deodorant as one of your first zero waste workshops because it’s so simple, quick, and cheap! Because the baking soda can be irritating to people, it’s also nice if you offer non-baking soda recipes to try at home.

Time: approximately 5-10 minutes
Cost: $
Supplies: 2 parts baking soda, 2 parts cornstarch, 1 part coconut oil, essential oils (optional – these are what I use)

How to
  1.  Mix the baking soda, cornstarch, and essential oil.
  2. Add melted coconut oil and mix well.
  3. Put the mixture into a small container, pack it down, and you’re done!
Workshop #3: laundry detergent

This is a very quick DIY perfect for demonstrations at larger events or times when people may not want to linger for long. I’d recommend choosing one person in the group to do each step in order to get a little bit of audience participation. (If you’d like to drastically reduce the cost of this event, ask participants to BYOC.)

Time: approximately 20 -30 minutes
Cost: $-$$, depending on number of participants
Supplies (for four participants to take home one cup of detergent, you’ll need these amounts – adjust accordingly): 1 bar castile soap, 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup washing soda, essential oils (optional)

How to
  1. Grate the bar of castile soap with a grater.
  2. Add soap, baking soda, and washing soda into a large container and mix.
  3. Divide the detergent into individual jars and add 2-3 drops of essential oil if desired.
  4. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. (Vinegar as “softener” is a great add-on)

Workshop #4: zero waste lotion

Zero waste lotion isn’t often totally zero waste (many of the items come in packaging), but if you get the right kind it can be reused. Plus, if you’re working in a larger group the packaging difference become negligible. DIY lotion is great because it does reduce overall packaging plus you know exactly what’s in it.

Time: 10-15 minutes
Cost: $$$
Supplies: equal parts shea butter*, cocoa butter*, coconut oil, and a liquid oil (jojoba, sweet almond, vitamin e, etc.)

How to
  1. Add all the ingredients into a glass bowl and let melt over a double boiler.
  2. When melted, remove from heat and whip with beaters for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Let sit in fridge for approximately one hour to cool.

* Not unpackaged but they do come in resealable paper bags lined with plastic/foil which can be reused for years.

There you go – four simple zero waste workshops meant to excite and inspire local focus into learning more about the zero waste movement! Have you successfully led zero waste workshops in your community – what did you teach?

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