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A trash audit is an environmentalists best friend

trash audit zero waste challenge
A trash audit is an environmentalists best friend 5

It is the last day of our 31 days to Zero waste challenge, and If you have been following along with all of the tasks, then I congratulate you on being a new zerowasteman/woman.

You can go and brag about it in your neighborhood and start getting angry at supermarkets for individually wrapping the fruit and veggies. Just kidding, but seriously it drives me nuts!

Have you ever tried to change an old habit in your life but didn’t know where to start?

Bear with me here, I will explain why I have taken you down this path.

As Tony Robbins says, you need to look yourself deep in the eye and make; ‘wanting to change’ link to so much pain, and the outcome to so much pleasure that you will change immediately.

The same goes for our trash. If you don’t know the problem, how can you change it? Hence why we are going to do a trash audit. This is an easy one, and I am sure after all the zero waste challenges you have done so far, I don’t need to point out the problem of our trash anymore, or do I?

Perhaps just a quick reminder.

These numbers are for the US, the country that creates the most waste in the world. Sorry, America. Oh, and Mega-City New York is the most wasteful city on earth. In fact, the US’s biggest export is trash.

New York
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Every year, we dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste. If all this waste were put on trucks, they would go around the world 24 times.

This astounding amount of waste is partly because 99 percent of the stuff we buy is trashed within 6 months.

By 2021, only 15 years of landfill capacity will remain, in the US.

That’s the ugly side.

Now, what can we do?

Let’s start a trash audit.

1. We have to get our own trash sorted.

Grab your self pen and paper and turn your garbage bin upside down. Yep, I am not kidding.

If you have anything wet in there, you might want to do it in the garage on top of a tarp or a place that you can easily clean up.

You might make your wife/husband angry if you do it in the living room 🙂

Once you have your waste all spread out, we can start with the trash audit.

Start writing down the items you see.

  • Milk container
  • Paper towel
  • Salad packaging
  • Toothpaste


Replace the biggest offenders

Once you have done your trash audit, see which items you throw away most.

For us, the biggest problem was general packaging, like muesli bars or chips bags.

Once you have this roadmap visualized for yourself, it is much easier to tackle your home’s waste problem.

Start with the biggest offender and replace it with a zero-waste alternative. For example, if you bought one of those fancy coffee pod machines, you are not ready to throw it out. Get some reusable pods for your device.

The amount of Coffepods that have been trashed can circle the world 10 times

If paper towels are your biggest offender, swap them for reusable paper towels. You can get some really nice ones on Etsy.

Globally, discarded paper towels result in 254 million tons of trash every year.~2017

If it is Q-tips, swap them for bamboo Q-tips or paper once made entirely from

Toilet paper cores, use them to light the fire or to put seedlings in.

Toothbrush and toothpaste can be recycled via TerraCycle, and for your next one, buy a bamboo toothbrush. For toothpaste, you can refill it at the bulk food store, or you purchase tooth tablets.

Food scraps are another easy one. You can start a compost, or if you live in an apartment, try the bokashi option. Read more in the ultimate short guide to composting.

Keep repeating it

You can also be proud of yourself by the amount of trash you have saved from going to a landfill.

If you have been following the 31 days to zero waste challenge initially, you may not have a lot of waste left in your bin. That is sooo awesome.

Doesn’t it make you feel like you are in harmony with the earth? You are in peace with yourself. You will also notice that your health will improve. Eating better food and perhaps even practicing mindfulness can have a substantial positive impact on your life. So you see, just by doing a trash audit, you almost did a life audit, and you can see things more clearly.

Thank you so much for supporting the zerowasteman by reading this content, and hopefully, you take a few things out of this and apply them to your own life.

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