Garbage Auditing 101

Welcome back friends! Today, I want to talk to you about something important.

Getting started!

Beginning a new project or forming new habits can be challenging. It can definitely be overwhelming when we don’t know how to start. It’s the same from getting in shape, to cutting out screen time, to… you guessed it, going Zero Waste. Since you’re presently reading this post, I’m assuming you have your reasons “why” to commit to this lifestyle, but what about the “how”. Yes, shopping with jars and making changes from single use to reusable is a great way to go (and has an immense impact), but you don’t want to show up at your favorite bulk place and not know what to get. Or end up with a whole bunch of food you’ve never tried and don’t know if you’ll like it, then be stuck with it, defeating the purpose of avoiding food waste!   

This is where a garbage audit comes into play. When anybody is interested in the Zero Waste lifestyle, I always mention to them to start by a week of auditing their trash. This is incredibly simple and easy to do. The concept behind this is to know exactly what you are throwing away. Once you acknowledge that you are throwing away specific items, you are able to find the alternatives you need and you know you already like!

How To:

At the beginning, I found it to be a bit much to remember everything that I tossed. So, I decided to keep a notepad by the trash and recycling bins. Each time I went and threw away something, I wrote it down. Whether it was fresh fruit peels or tissues, it went on the list. I did this for about a week in order to give myself a wide range of what I was getting rid of.

Once you have your grand list, you’re able to break it down into categories. Some categories I had on mine were:

  • Food scraps (peels or tiny bits of leftovers)
  • Food that I forgot to eat and had died in my fridge
  • Food packaging
  • Product bottles (household cleaning and personal hygiene)
  • Take away trays or Single Use products from eating out/ordering in
  • Other (dryer lint and fabric softener sheets, vacuum dust, dead pens)

I decided on categories because the master list was too scary, whereas a smaller, more specified list (like the one above) simplified the process. Some things on the list were easy fixes and taken care of right away and others took a bit more time to find solutions. Here’s how I was able to break it all down:

CategoryMy Solution
Food scrapsPut less food on my plate to avoid excessive waste.Eat only
when actually hungry.Cook sensible portions OR large batches to freeze/store for later.Save leftovers/Freeze leftovers.Call the city for a compost bin to participate in the curbside pick up
that was offered.Freeze leftover veggie scraps to make veggie broth before sending them to compost.
Food scraps from
food that I let go bad (unintentionally)
Buy less produce.Make grocery lists to shop with more intention.Make sure to eat/cook what will expire as soon as possible.Have a flexible meal plan to include the extra veggies that may die.Freeze leftover veggies to make veggie broth.
Food PackagingBegin buying food items using my own containers, from bulk stores that allow it.For items that I cannot find in bulk, look for less wasteful alternatives (glass, cardboard, anything that is not plastic).For food that I cannot find without packaging, I attempted to learn to make myself (I like to cook though, so this solution may not be for everyone).
Product bottles (household cleaning and personal hygiene)Buy in bulk with my own containers or learn to make my own.
Take away or Single Use from eating outCarry my ZW kit with me for eating out. This includes a wrap I made to hold all my utensils and a cloth napkin and (depending where I am going) a container to bring home leftovers.Try my best to remember to bring a reusable coffee cup, or avoid buying coffee while out.
OtherSee what the items were and try my best to find an alternative (ie: change from dryer sheets to dryer balls that will last a long time and are compostable afterwards).

This above was my jump off point to getting into the lifestyle. I find that knowing exactly where I struggled was the best way to think of solutions. Also, breaking things down into smaller, more manageable tasks is always easier for any new goal. Keep this up and try your best to find alternatives that you need. Always keeping in mind that perfection is not the goal and incredibly hard to obtain. Every bit that you can do, definitely helps! Try this out for a week and see how you do!

I hope you enjoyed my take on Garbage Auditing and that you give it a try! For more tips, tricks and even recipes to help live a Zero Waste lifestyle, head over and like my page on Facebook Live Waste Free. Where you’ll get daily ideas to keep you going on the Zero-Waste path.

Or follow me on Instagram @livewastefree for random pics and funnies.

Until next time!

---- Dawn Francom ---- 2019-03-07 19:09:32