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How to conduct a trash audit | Waste-free living with HarassedMom
The main reason for a trash audit is to know what you are throwing away so that you can reduce it.

How to Conduct a Trash Audit (and why you need to)

Do you know what you are throwing away? Take a minute to think about it. Do you REALLY know what is in your trash can right now? You probably think you do but I guarantee you that when you actually start your trash audit you will be shocked with what you area actually throwing away.

The main reason for a trash audit is to know what you are throwing away so that you can reduce it. Assuming you know isn’t going to help you reduce your waste. You have to get up close and personal with your trash to be able to start reducing it.

A trash audit is fun and it isn’t pretty but it has to be done if you want to start making real changes.

An average person in SA generates about 1 tonne of waste per year and about 3 kg per day. Source

How to conduct a trash audit | Waste-free living with HarassedMom

I did this years ago and I was shocked with just how much stuff we were throwing away, often stuff that we could compost, recycle or reduce. It was eye-opening and helped us to make some of the changes we have made.

How to conduct a trash audit.

Collect a proper sample. Tipping out your current trash can is fine but if you empty your trash daily, you won’t get an accurate picture if you just empty the trash once. I would aim for a week’s worth of trash. (Obviously depending on the amount of trash you have).

Take inventory of the trash. Throw your trash out – do this outside on garbage bag or something that is easy to pick up afterwards. Record everything you see – for example 3 x paper towels, 4 x meat containers, 10 x plastic bottles etc. Once you have an idea of the items in your trash you can group items – compostable, recyclable etc.

You will then easily be able to see exactly what makes up the most trash and it will make it easier to formulate a plan going forward. At this point you might realise that just by separating out the recyclable items you can reduce your waste substantially.

Make some changes. When something is easy, we are more likely to make the change and stick to it. Look through your trash audit and implement some of the easier changes.

Start composting. Buy a recycle bin to keep your plastic, tin and glass separate, making it easy to recycle. Invest in a large water container that you can refill with water instead of buying single use plastic bottles. These are all easy changes to implement and will give you some quick wins.

Repeat. Give yourself some time to adjust to the new changes and then do another trash audit to see how you are doing. Our large black wheelie bin is collected weekly, it used to be jam-packed each week, now we can skip a week and it still is not completely fill.

When I notice it filling up quicker than usual, I do an audit to see where we are getting slack. Doing this a few times is important so you can see how you are progressing.

How to conduct a trash audit | Waste-free living with HarassedMom

When you start delving into your habits, it can get a little overwhelming. You quickly realise just how big your carbon footprint is and it can seem almost impossible to change it. Don’t try to change everything immediately. It is never going to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be.

Focus on doing things that work for you and your family – it might be less than some but will be more than others. When you get things right, celebrate those wins.

How to conduct a trash audit | Waste-free living with HarassedMom

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