Know thy enemy. In this particular case, the enemy is the mound sitting inside your trash can.
Discovering others who had successfully reduced the trash they produce to practically nothing has been incredibly inspiring for me.
It was proof that with a little effort and a few conscientious choices, we don’t have to be mindless consumers, trash producers, and unwitting contributors to the junk piling up on our soil and in our oceans.
Hopefully, you being here and reading this means you too are intent on cutting down on your waste (yayyy, friend!).
The road to reducing our trash is going to be a long, gradual one - and it all starts with knowing what our trash consists of.
The Personal Waste Audit
I first started on this trash-reducing journey in 2015. For a few months, at the end of every week, I would glance into my trash can and note the items in there. Here’s what I would typically find:
A lot of paper, plastic packaging (including plastic bottles, plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic boxes, saran wraps), glass, tin cans, and disposable utensils and chopsticks from take out food.
Some tissues, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste containers, toothbrushes, shampoo/ soap containers, and stickers.
Some organic waste from cooking.
Occasional craft waste like fabric, thread and miscellaneous art supplies.
Results of my personal waste audit
You can go a step further and quantify the amount for each category, but I was pretty happy with simply eyeballing it.
Waste Audit Worksheet. Click to download.
Once you have a list of the most frequent inhabitants of your trash can, the next step is to figure out what to do about each and every one of them.
Use the table below to go through the questions below for each item on your trash list
Zero Waste Alternatives. Click to download.