Week 1: Conduct a Trash Audit
BONUS: teach a friend or neighbor how to do one too!
You have learned about the Five R’s and are ready to push forward with your low-impact living journey; but knowing where to begin can feel uncertain and overwhelming, right? Don’t fret! We can help!
Doing a trash audit will show you exactly what is in your trash bin and shine a spotlight on where to focus your efforts first.
- several pages of scrap paper
- pen or pencil
- towel or floor covering
- 1 pair of rubber gloves (optional)
- 4 bins/boxes for sorting (trash, curbside recycling, compost, drop-off recycling)
- 1-3 days worth of household trash (don’t forget about those little waste baskets in the bathroom, home office, etc.)
- Local curbside recycling guidelines
- Gather trash audit supplies using the suggested supply list above.
- Review local curbside recycling guidelines
- Prepare your audit space by laying down a towel or floor covering.
- Suit up with a pair of rubber gloves (optional), and take one item out at a time. Group the items by category:
- food scraps
- cotton swabs
- snack packaging
- paper towels
- grooming items
- Track / tally your findings as you go on a piece of paper, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I refuse this item next time?
- Is there a more sustainable swap available that would allow me to reduce my waste?
- Can I or someone else reuse/repurpose/repair this?
- Can it be recycled curbside or via a local drop-off/collection?
- Can this item rot in compost instead?
- Assess the tally sheet with all of the items, and see which items you throw away the most. Rank in order of highest number on your paper. The items with the highest count are the items to start thinking about refusing or reducing first.
- Transfer sorted items into the appropriate bag or bin.
- Label your trash bin with the date to see how often you are taking out your trash. This might motivate you and other members of your household to “think twice” about where the item you are ready to discard really belongs.
- Share your SHIFT! Post a photo or write up of your audit experience on social media to #shareyourshift and inspire others (while getting virtual high fives from all of us in the low-waste community)!
- E-mail us your observations and any photos you took during the process. We’d love to hear from you!
Your child can learn more about recycling by sorting a day’s worth of trash from your home into different categories and then graphing what percentage can be recycled vs. true trash.