Conduct a Waste Audit to start your journey towards Zero Waste

January 15, 2021

Conduct a Waste Audit to start your journey towards Zero Waste

Is your goal for 2021 to reduce the amount of waste you create? 


If you're reading this post, I assume you are, or at least you're interested in doing better, congratulations!

You may wonder where to start? I'd answer with a management quote from Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Meaning if you can't measure the waste you throw away, you can't possibly know how and what to reduce. 

To measure your trash, you need to conduct a waste audit. Don't be intimidated by the word audit, it's pretty simple. Here are the steps to follow:

- Define your audit timeline, a week, 2 weeks, a month. Make sure it's long enough to be representative of your waste.
- Write down every single item you throw in your trash and check where they belong: recycling / landfill / compost / hazardous waste (see example below). You can also grab gloves and sort through your waste at the end. If you have bored kids at home, they'll probably love the experiment (and the mess)!


- Learn about your city recycling system, make sure you don't #wishcycle. Did you know that we cannot recycle wide mouth plastic containers in Mecklenburg county?
- Now that you know what you're dealing with. Think if that waste is really necessary? Do I really need plastic water bottles, bread bags...? 
- Think about the way you could avoid waste from entering your home. Example: plastic bags -> bring my reusable bags to the store, plastic water bottle -> reusable bottle...
- Set up some goals and make the swap for a couple of items, start small, see how it goes. When they become a habit, add another swap and repeat.
- Conduct another audit a few months later to track improvements and challenge your household to do better.

We all consume differently and that's the reason why it's so important to be aware of what trash we create. You'll find alternatives that work for you but may not work for someone else... Zero Waste is a journey and everybody makes its own.

Have you done a trash audit before? Share your findings below. What waste are you struggling with?





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