Kanu Hawaii No Waste Challenge

Image The holidays are often a period of high waste. Through education and engagement, we worked to make December just the opposite.


Challenge participants to limit their household waste to just a single bag of trash.

  • Week 1: The State of Rubbish in Hawaii. Learn how much waste we produce and where it goes.
  • Week 2: The Dirt on Recycling. Learn how/what to recycle, and why recycling should be a last resort when it comes to plastic.
  • Week 3: Green Gold. Learn how to turn green waste into a valuable local resource.
  • Week 4: The "One Bag, One Week" Waste Challenge. A challenge to limit household waste to a single bag for the entire week.

An antidote to the throwaway society.

2011 was the first year of the Kanu Hawaii No Waste Challenge.


Based on post-challenge surveys, participants diverted 33,000 lbs during the month of December. Over 100 members rose to the "One Bag, One Week" Challenge. Over 300 members reported recycling at home during the month, and over 200 reported composting at home. 175 people recycled their holiday party waste rather than sending it to the landfill.

Kanu also piloted a new form of group action called the Carrot Mob, an innovative way to support local businesses through consumer purchasing power. The name comes from the idiom "carrot or stick" — a large group of people (the mob) spends money (the carrot) to influence positive changes within a business, as opposed to threatening a boycott (the stick). Businesses use the extra revenue generated to invest in specific changes to business practices or facilities that have positive social or environmental impact.


The No Waste Carrot Mob called people from East Honolulu to Kale's Natural Foods to support their efforts to reduce waste at Hawaii Kai Shopping Center. More than 500 people showed up to the consumer mob, generating $8,000 in cause-driven consumer spending in a single day — double the typical number of weekend sales. The Carrot Mob gave Kale’s enough capital to set up consumer and cardboard recycling for customers of the shopping center, expected to divert over 13,000 lbs of trash out of the waste stream annually.

Beyond the Challenge


Kanu members on Oahu took up the challenge to "Save the Bins" when the City declared their intent to remove the white Community Recycling Bins used by schools and residents who don't have recycling access at home. Over 400 Kanu members submitted testimony to the City Council and Mayor's office regarding the recycling bins. Read more about the campaign here.

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