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Before you can begin to make sustainable changes in your home you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.
To do this you need to know what changes you need to make. Rethinking is the first step in living a more sustainable lifestyle.
A great place to start is by doing a waste audit for your home.
What Is A Waste Audit?
Although it may sound scary doing a waste audit for your home is actually really easy. All you are doing is recording what you are putting into your bin for a set amount of time.
We often throw things into our bin and then don’t give it a second thought. Out of sight, out of mind. But do you know what actually happens to the items you are throwing away?
Sadly the majority of it goes to landfill. Which in case you don’t know is basically a big hole in the ground. The three main problems with landfill other than the fact that they look horrible are..
- Toxins (leach into our soil and water)
- Leachate (The liquid that is formed when waste breaks down)
- Greenhouse gases (Contribute to climate change)
All of which are bad for the environment.
Some waste does get burnt but that has it’s own environmental impacts too.
Why Do A Waste Audit?
The answer to that is pretty simple. If you don’t know what you are throwing away to start with how can you start to reedcue your waste.
The average UK household throws away more than a tonne of waste every year. That’s a total of 31 million tonnes per year.
Here are some more Stats for you…
- The average UK family throws away 6 trees worth of paper in their bin a year
- We get through 5 billion drinks cans every year
- People in the UK throw away between £250 and £400 of potentially edible food every year.
By becoming aware of what you’re throwing away you can then start to look into more sustainable alternatives for those items.
“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”
How To Do A Waste Audit?
There are quite a few articles online about how to complete a waste audit for your home. A lot of them are pretty complicated and go into a lot of detail but it really doesn’t have to be like that.
Here’s my really simple waste audit advise broken down into 5 steps…
What You’ll Need…
- A pen
- A piece of paper
Or if you fancy going digital and reducing your waste, then use the notes on your phone. If you really want to get into it you could even go as far as creating a spreadsheet on your computer for recording the data.
What To Do
Step One: Set A Time Frame
The first thing to do is decide how long you want to do your waste audit for. Some people opt for a week so people like to do a month. Choose whatever is going to work for you. I wouldn’t recommend any less than a week otherwise you won’t get a true picture of what you’re throwing away.
Step Two: Record Everything!
Every time you put something into your bin write down what it was either on your paper list or on your notes on your phone. When you start to have more than one of the same thing just tally up the amount next to that item.
To remind yourself to record every item stick a sign on the top of the bin.
If you live with other people then it can be slightly trickier as they might not be as enthusiastic as you about recording their waste.
To get around this you could consider buying a few of those clear plastic rubbish bags (yes I said plastic) and then when it’s full you should be able to see what’s inside in case anything has been missed off the list. Not ideal but it could be a way around it.
Step Three: Analyse your Results
Again sounds a bit scary but all that means is looking at your list and working out what you throw away the most of.
Step Four: Do Your Research
When you know what you are throwing away you can then start to research more sustainable alternative for those items.
So for example say you are throwing away lots of cling film research sustainable alternatives for cling film.
If it’s lots of crisp packets that are going into your bin look up crisp packet recycling schemes in your area. Or you could even consider making your own.
Is food waste the main thing going into your bin? Start looking into ways to reduce your food waste including using up your leftovers and storing your food correctly to keep it fresher for longer. Then perhaps consider setting up a composter in your garden.
Step Five: Make The Switch
The last thing to do is to put your new ideas into place. This may be a slow process depending on whether you need to buy sustainable alternatives or not. As this can initially cost you money although switching to reusables will save you money in the long run.
I have managed to save £84 every year just by switching to reusable pads. That’s only one thing!
Don’t just stop there. As your waste will generally change from month to month it’s worth repeating the whole process at some point in the future to see if you can make some new changes.
The will always be something that you simply cannot find a sustainable alternative for. Don’t focus your energy on those things, focus on what you can change.
Need More Help?
Download my FREE waste audit printable kit
About Gina Caro
Gina is a content creator and award-winning blogger. Her aim is to help you live a more sustainable & simple life. Her blog covers zero waste, minimalism, wellbeing & thrift. She currently lives in Cornwall with her partner, two kids and Charles the dog.