1. Gather Your Supplies
Before conducting your waste audit, gather or locate all of the following supplies:
2. Organize Your Audit
Decide how long you want your audit to last. Do you want to measure your daily waste production, or extend the time frame to a week? We recommend a full workweek to give you a realistic perspective of your fluctuating household waste.
Now, divide your waste into different categories. If you hope to recycle, compost, or reuse more of your waste, your audit should measure the waste that falls into each of these categories. For example, the following waste categories cover many types of reusable and recyclable materials:
- Paper and cardboard
- Plastic and rubber
- Hazardous/toxic waste
- Compostable/organic waste
After you’ve decided on your method of organization, it’s time to get started on the audit itself.
3. Sort Your Trash
You have two options for sorting and weighing your trash: measuring each item as you throw it away, or sifting through your waste bins at the end of each day. The first method is more time-consuming and may interrupt your daily activities, but the second comes with hygiene and accuracy issues. It may help to meet in the middle and ask everyone to separate their recyclable and compostable trash before throwing anything away.
4. Record Your Findings
Tally up the weights of each piece of trash, or weigh the trash from each category. Make sure you document each number in an organized spreadsheet that includes the specific categories.
5. Graph Your Results
You have the raw numbers, so now it’s time to interpret your data. Map the information visually to make sense of all those numbers, using pie graphs or charts to show the stark difference between categories. If you have children, this could be a great learning opportunity! When the data collection is complete, analysis will be the last and most important step of your waste audit.