Take stock of your waste
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
To reduce our waste, we first need to understand where it is coming from. Coming face to face with your waste might feel overwhelming, but breaking it down into different areas and then focusing on one area at a time makes reducing it less daunting.
So let’s start identifying your waste habits, with a waste audit.
1. Collect some data
Record the number of household and recycling bags you are creating each week (you can even weigh them!),
Take a photo when you put them out and continue for the whole duration of this program - it will be useful to track the impact of this program.
Keep a diary of your household waste, monitoring the recurring items, for at least two weeks.
Here is a simple template you can use (download it here):
You will quickly gain a lot of information from this audit – even after only two weeks.
Take some time to analyse and identify the areas responsible for the majority of your waste.
Is your waste linked to food waste? What type of food waste (past due date, packaging, leftovers, …)? Amazon packaging? Cleaning products? Kids and toys? Clothing? Pets? Beauty products? Work?
Is your waste due to single use items, or the number of items you are buying?
Are you throwing away items that could be recycled?
Can you identify recurring items, with short term lives, that could be avoided?
Beyond your waste, also give some thoughts to what you bought, i.e. your future waste. What did you buy in the past few days? What did your housemates buy?
Analyse why you bought it, and find strategies to avoid buying unnecessary products next time. Was everything necessary? Why did you buy it? Consider the pathway that led you to buy it: it could be that an article in a magazine triggered your interest (could you stop reading this magazine?), or that you entered a shop with no specific intention and discovered this tempting item (could you avoid this shop or consider it as a museum that displays rather than sells items?). Were you with friends on a shopping trip? Could you advocate the waste-lite approach and also change your friends' purchasing habits?
3. Set goals
Take stock and set your goals in terms of reducing your waste and… consumption. For instance:
Aim to avoid buying clothes for a few months - at least buying new clothes (buy second hand, borrow, exchange, ...)
Consider a non-spend month, where you do not buy anything beyond the basic necessities – and see where you struggle the most
Commit to avoiding having items delivered more than once a week/month
Aim to walk, bike, use public transport instead of driving (install Citymapper on your phone).
Set your goals and write them down. The other sections of your website will help you buy and bin better, but reducing your consumption is only up to you!
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Download the format to keep track of your waste: