When I started my journey with sustainability, I jumped directly into making the swaps that were “trendy” at the moment without taking the time to examine what aspects of my lifestyle created the most waste. It wasn’t until the past summer that I finally sat down and dug through my trash can to learn more about my habits. I had delayed this process mostly because I was nervous I would feel disheartened, but I ended up feeling motivated and inspired.
I chose to do my waste audit by going through one room at a time. I started with my kitchen and took a look at my trash, recycle, and compost bins. As I made my way through my trash cans I found the best strategy was to write down and tally up all of the items in the can and organize them in to categories (ex. food packaging, personal care products, and food waste). I went back through this list, looked at which categories contained the most waste, and thought about which would be the easiest to reduce or eliminate. I created the worksheet below to help you get started with your waste audit, you can download the PDF at the bottom of the page!
In the kitchen I found that most of my waste was food packaging - tofu containers, chip bags, and the occasional to-go coffee cup and takeout container. Prior to COVID-19 I always carried my reusable coffee cup and brought glass containers to most restaurants when I ordered takeout and I look forward to the days where I can eliminate this waste from my trash can again! When I examined the food in my compost bin I realized most of it was vegetable scraps that could be used in creative new ways. Carrot greens make a great addition to a chimichurri sauce, broccoli stems are delicious when chopped up in a stir fry, and almost any hearty greens can be turned into pesto. I set goals for myself based on these realizations - for example, look for new ways to use food scraps I would otherwise compost. Setting clear, attainable goals for myself helped me avoid feeling overwhelmed and gives me a great sense of accomplishment when I’m able to reduce waste in a new area.
This waste audit helped re-inspire me to find creative, low-cost ways I can reduce waste in my daily life as I get ready to move. While doing a waste audit it’s important to remember to be kind to yourself. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and waste happens. Waste audits aren’t about shaming yourself or setting goals of perfectionism, and you should let the process should be fun and creative!
Once you've set a few goals for how you want to reduce the waste ending up in your garbage cans, check out the GLM website and use the code 2021_WasteAudit_20 at checkout for 20% off your order during the month of February!*
*Can't be combined with other coupon codes