A waste stream audit reviews how much waste is currently produced within your household, and can bring awareness to how much and what kind of waste you produce. The results can help your family to make smarter use of resources by measuring which materials account for the majority of your waste and identifying items that could be reduced, reused, recycled, or composted.
You can conduct a waste audit at home in a few simple steps. The audit can serve as an excellent educational activity for your family. Ask your kids to help you sort and weigh the trash and brainstorm to find solutions for reducing waste.
The basic steps to performing a home waste stream audit are:
- Plan to collect waste for a set period of time. A few days to one week is generally suggested for a home. If applicable, sort bags by day and location.
- Observe and record what materials your household is currently disposing of and in what quantities. When going through trash, be sure to sort it in a well ventilated area, using tongs, gloves, and masks.
- Determine the weight and volume of disposed items that could be recycled. A kitchen and bathroom scale is recommended for weighing the bags of trash.
- Record your results and analyze where the waste is generated and see if the material can be reduced, reused, or recycled. Sample audit forms can be found here.
- Based on what you discover from your waste audit, take action to reduce landfill waste. This may mean placing clearly labeled recycling containers in more convenient spaces, starting a compost pile, or reusing old containers.
- Track your progress by conducting a second waste audit again after several weeks.