A great way to start your green living journey is to do a trash audit and see what makes up the most of your garbage. What’s in your trash? Understanding what we throw away is a big step in addressing our environmentally-harmful habits. Conduct a trash audit by doing the following:
Allow your trash to fill up and see how long it takes on average – two weeks? A month? Knowing how much you throw away and how often can help you reduce your waste.
Dump the trash on a tarp or other easily cleanable surface. Organize everything into categories. Put food scraps and compostables together (napkins, paper towels, etc.). Organize glass, metal, and plastic items into categories. Make note of what comprises the most of your trash.
Are there any food items, napkins, paper towels, tissues, or other items that would break down and decompose? These can be composted. If you don’t already have a compost bin, consider getting one. If you live in an area with limited outdoor space like an apartment building, consider one of these indoor compost bins.
Are there any plastic bottles, milk jugs, cans, or other recyclable items? These should go in a recycling bin and not the regular trash. Look up your local recycling services and see what they can and cannot accept. Separate the recyclable items from the rest of the trash and start sending these items to the recycling center. Some residential areas offer recycling bins while others expect you to bring your own recyclables to the center.
Look for single-use plastic waste. How many single-use disposable items can be found in your garbage? These items include disposable cutlery, plates, plastic straws, to-go boxes, plastic wrap, plastic bags, water bottles, etc. If you make the right swaps, you won’t have to throw these away anymore. Consider replacing your single-use products with reusable ones to reduce the amount of trash you throw away.
Make any other assessments and consider if there are items that could be given away for free or donated? Don’t donate stained, torn, or broken products. However, some people will take these items for free because they know how to repair or use them. Assess your trash habits and consider what could be reused or given away.
What else do you notice about your trash habits? What changes do you think can be made?