How to conduct a trash audit at home

When you start your zero-waste journey, you may find the process of waste reduction extremely overwhelming. You begin feeling highly motivated, but your overflowing trash can drains out all the enthusiasm and crushes your ‘zero-waste’ dream.

You will find yourself in this situation if you have skipped one of the most important steps in a beginner’s zero-waste journey: Trash Auditing! How can one find a solution without knowing the problem? Wishing for your waste to be able to fit into a mason jar won’t be enough. You need to take a deep dive into your trash with your detective lens and find out exactly what you are throwing away.

My husband and I follow different diets and use different personal items, but we share a common trash can. Auditing our trash helped us understand what we throw away the most and inspired us to seek solutions. So here are few steps on how you can conduct a trash-audit at home:

I really hope all of you are already doing this at home as waste segregation is Zero-Waste 101. At home we segregate our waste into plastic, paper, organic and residual waste. Not only does this help in the process of recycling and composting, it also aids in assessing waste by category.

The method of analysis depends on what information you seek. If you want to know what kind of waste is mostly thrown away, then weighing the segregated bags help. A lot of plastic waste? Are you throwing away too much food?

However, if you want to take it a step further and find out the most frequently thrown out items, then you can go through each item and make a tally sheet. The items that top the list will be your culprits (Milk cartons? Plastic bottles? Take-away containers?). You don’t have to worry about touching something unpleasant or sticky if you have segregated your waste properly! This process is more time consuming and requires a lot more commitment.

Choose the method that suits you best!

At this point, the zero-waste enthusiast in you might be feeling a little disheartened. But don’t lose heart as we are a step closer to tackling the problem. No amount of waste should dampen your spirit!

Get to grips with your waste problem with one baby step at a time. Choose the easiest eco-friendly swap that you can make to reduce the usage of the wasteful item from the previous step. Too many plastic grocery bags? Start carrying your own bags to the grocery and reuse them. Something that simple can make an enormous difference in your household waste. Every baby step counts!

Waste auditing is a commitment. Doing it once is not enough. Every day is different hence, our trash contents will differ from time to time. The more frequently you analyse your consumption and waste patterns, the more solutions you seek and as a result the total waste reduces over time.

For the best outcome, include everyone in your house to take part in the auditing process. This way you learn more about your waste and it makes ‘a nearly zero-waste home’ more achievable.

Have you tried a waste-audit at home? If so, what are the items that take up most of the space in your trash can? Let me know via comments or message.

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