How to do a home waste audit (and why I think it is a good idea)
I will admit, when I started my own eco-conscious journey, I did not do a waste audit. I did a 'finger in the air' guess at what the key areas were that I could reduce waste, and dove straight in.
On reflection, I don't think this was the end of the world, but I do wish I had done an audit, for two reasons. Firstly, I think it would have helped me focus and reduced some mistakes (buying new eco-things before I had used the old) and it would be really nice to have something I could look back on to see just how far we have come as a household.
What is a Waste Audit
It is simply recording what you are throwing away (I would include donations to charities and selling/giving things away too)
After a period of time (a week or a month) you review what you’ve recorded and use this information to make actionable changes.
Why do a Waste Audit
If you want to make changes to products you buy, how much waste you are creating or maybe refocus your efforts, or are struggling to know where to start, this can - this could be the way to get you motivated.
Also, as I mentioned, it may be really good to have a reference point for the future, sometimes it is easy to forget how far we have come.
How to get started
There is no perfect way to do your audit – if you love a spreadsheet, use that. If you are a note writer – maybe pin your audit somewhere accessible – pin board in the kitchen/front of the fridge?
Structure, I would advise capturing the following:
- What you are throwing away
- Where it is going i.e. waste, recycling, composting, donating
- How much of it are you getting rid of
- Why - is it out of date, damaged, not used etc.
Review your Audit
How often you review your audit it up to you, I would suggest weekly – that way it is less overwhelming, and you may spot some super quick wins.
What to look for
- Are there repeat offenders – in both quantity and reason?
- Highlight or write down the top 3 or 5 offenders. If you plan on auditing as a continuous exercise (for a few months) I would stick to 3 a week as a manageable number, maybe even less.
Identify your changes - quick wins
This may sound like stating the obvious, but sometimes we need to step back to see what is happening for an alternative to come to mind.
- Are you buying food to through most of it away (bags of salad …😉 )
- Are you using something every day that comes in a re-usable alternative? (cotton pads/make up removal pads perhaps)
Resource, Research and Longer Term Goals
Depending on your own situation there may be changes you are not sure you can make, be that because of time, accessibility to shops or budget. Try not to let this put you off.
There are some things that are an investment. We also don't have fruit and vegetable markets on every high street, or refill shops readily available - so if you can't replace everything don't let that stop you from changing something.
Good luck! If you have done an audit, I would love to hear how you got on.