woman standing next to a trash bag and writing in a notebook

How to Conduct a Trash Audit

Week 0

Conducting a trash audit is a simple, but effective way to see what you're sending to the landfill. Here is a step by step guide, as well as a look at how my own trash audit went.

Set a time frame

We've really settled into a routine since we've been staying home so much, so I thought a week would give us a pretty good idea of our typical waste output. You can set a specific amount of time or keep an ongoing tally.

Grab a pen and paper

I did a very basic notebook tally, but you could opt for a spreadsheet if you prefer. I made a few categories like plastic packaging, food waste, paper and so on.

Go through the trash

Yep, all that waste you produced has to be gone through, piece by piece. Don't forget to include garbage from every room in the house. You could probably write down each item before you throw it away, but I found that having to dig through stinky trash bags really helped drive home the ick factor.

three notebook pages containg trash audit notes
This is what my final list looked like.

Analyze the results

I only had one milk jug, but since we typically go throuh one gallon per week, it's safe to say I throw away around 52 milk jugs per year. Plastic wrapping, cardboard and food waste, are an even bigger problem since they took up most of the space in my trash bags.

Use your findings to shrink your waste

Did you notice any big problem areas? Use your results to be more mindful of your waste output this year.

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