What is a Trash Audit

How to do a Trash Audit

Spread the Sustainable Gospel!

After being fed dozens upon dozens of sustainable living tips, it may still seem overwhelming on even where to begin. You can’t tackle everything at once or you’ll find yourself giving up if you try. That’s where a trash audit can be very helpful at organizing the chaos.

If you have followed along with my 30 Days to Zero Waste challenge, this is the next step I recommend to put all of those tips into action.

Before you really tackle your household waste, you should start auditing what you are throwing away. What kind of trash is filling your bin?

Keeping track of what you throw away will help you better understand which key areas to tackle first to make the quickest and biggest impact on your overall trash reduction.

How to do a trash audit

The first time I did a trash audit, I excitedly dumped my entire trash can onto the kitchen floor. My partner at the time thought I was insane – but supportive.

First, you’ll notate what is being thrown away every single day. To make this simple, I’ve created a downloadable trash audit tracker for you to use to keep it organized.

This tracker keeps like-products together for easy tallying. I’ve even broken it down a little further so that you know why certain categories are making their way into your trash.

For instance, any time there is food waste getting tossed, look closely at the types of food waste options notated. Is the food waste from expired food, uneaten leftovers, wilted veggies, or for some other reason?

Trash Audit Worksheet

If you find at the end of the week that most of the food waste getting thrown away is due to spoilage, we can come up with a plan of attack to address that specific issue.

How long should a trash audit be?

It’s honestly completely up to you but a bare minimum should at least be a week. I personally audit my trash always so that I can track my growth, and see if there are more ways I can work to reduce because let’s be real here, I still produce trash from time to time.

Getting to zero waste is an impossibility that is a truth we all need to accept in order to be successful.

Once you get a week’s worth of data, count your tallies.

Whichever category had the most, is the area you should start. And if you want to do more, I’d recommend tackling no more than 3 categories at a time to make the transition to sustainable alternatives more achievable. 

If your top category was…

Food wastestart with this post: 6 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Food Packaging – start with this post: 7 Ways to Reduce Food Packaging Waste Without Access to Bulk or How to Buy Groceries Zero Waste
Bathroom Waste – start with this post: 10 Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps
Take Out Waste – start with this post: How to Reduce Your Waste While Eating Fast Food
For a HUGE list of Zero Waste swaps to get started: The Ultimate List of Zero Waste Swaps

And don’t forget to check out other helpful posts that teach you how to start reducing waste with things you already have lying around your home like:

 10 Ways to Start Zero Waste With Items You Already Have

Tell me in the comments what your top 3 categories were! Mine is always paper.

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