4 colorful garbage cans in a line on a sidewalk next to a building on a cobbled street (with logo overlay)

How to do a Home Trash Audit

Performing a Home Trash Audit is a great way to see where you currently are in the amount of waste produced in your kitchen.

The trash audit is a way for you and your family to identify exactly what is being wasted in the kitchen. By waste, we’re counting everything that is not consumed. This includes items going into the trash, down the disposal, in the recycle, and out to compost.

We did this a few years ago when I started being more conscious of our waste. I was amazed at the numbers. Some things weren’t surprising while others were. I knew we didn’t use a lot of paper towels and paper products as that was something I had already cut out. But I didn’t realize we were still wasting so much food.

We used this information to change how we do a few things in the kitchen. We started to compost more consistently. I also save veggie scraps to make homemade vegetable broth. Then they are reused at least once more before becoming compost.

Originally Published On: September 19, 2018

Last Updated On: December 17, 2019

What is a Trash Audit?

A Trash Audit is exactly what it sounds like. You are taking an audit of all of the trash that is made in the kitchen. There are a few ways to do this. Some involve taking the garbage bag and emptying it to take account. 

That sounds way too messy for me, not to mention gross. Emptying the garbage was not going to happen for me. So I found a better way. 

Rather than going through the garbage after it’s thrown out, make a list of items as they are wasted. Then you can tally the results after a set amount of time.

Close up of a pile of trash

Why should I do an Audit of my Trash?

An Audit will give you a clear picture of what you are wasting in your kitchen. It can be eye-opening to realize just how much is being thrown in the trash, recycle, and down the sink. 

Even with the efforts we have been making in this, we still had a lot more waste than I was hoping. Once you know what you are throwing away, you can work on a plan to cut down on that waste. 

4 trash cans lined up on the side of a cobbled street

How to do a Trash Audit

Using this method, an audit of your trash isn’t too hard, or gross. If you haven’t yet, sign up for the email list and Welcome Kit. There will be a printable file for your Home Trash Audit. 

Print this out and put it near your kitchen trash can. We put ours on a clipboard with a pen attached and left it on the counter. Because it was right over the trash can, it was easy to remember to mark things down as we threw them in the garbage. 

Results

After you do the audit for one month, then add all of your tally marks up to see what you threw away the most. This will give you a clear vision of exactly what produces the most waste in your kitchen. 

Two pens on top of a blank lined notepad ready to do a trash audit

Your Turn

If you haven’t already signed up for the newsletter and to get your Welcome Kit, then make sure to do right now. You’ll receive an email with your kit to get started reducing the waste in your kitchen. In this kit, there is an audit form that you can print and keep near your kitchen trash can to mark off as you throw out anything.

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38 thoughts on “How to do a Home Trash Audit”

  1. Thank goodness that we really don’t throw away much trash. A large majority of the waste is recyclable or compostable. We have been able to drastically reduce our waste. Its important for everyone to do a trash audit for their home to see how much waste they produce.

  2. I have to admit that I’m ashamed that I never thought of this. Food waste is such a big problem these days. I will make sure to share your article with all my friends, and we will start reducing waste!

  3. This is such an important step in trying to reduce waste. I have an idea of what are our big items, but I’m going to do this and see if I’m right!

  4. I love this idea & want to try it! My husband and I purposely keep a smaller than average trash can to help us be more conscious of what we throw out and waste. I feel like it’s made us more likely to recycle and use our compost bin.

    1. I’ve heard of either having a smaller can or removing it from the kitchen completely to make you really think about everything you throw out.

  5. This is a great idea! I am really wanting to decrease our waste so this is a great place to start. I don’t live anywhere near the ocean but I see the videos of the sea life suffering from plastic bags and straws and it breaks my heart. It made me wonder if the wildlife in my area are effected as well and I just can not stand the thought of that. So I want to decrease or eliminate disposable plastics in my home, which leads me to want to decrease our waste all around.

    1. I’m sure wildlife everywhere is affected. If not in the ocean then some of that trash will still end up in the forest and wherever they live.

    1. It’s an easy way to see where you are at and what can be improved. This one is aimed at the kitchen, but you could do a similar one anywhere you have a trash can.

    1. You could easily adapt the list and make one for everywhere you have a trash can. The kitchen is the biggest waste producer, and the bathrooms are usually second in any home.

  6. A trash audit sounds like a great idea! I should totally do this. Sadly, with 2 young kids who like some food one day and hate it the next, I know food would be a huge section of our garbage!

  7. I have never heard of this idea and it sounds really great. This could save a lot of if things wasted. I like this idea and I might dicuss it with the family, thank you for sharing!

    1. It’s a great and clean way to see how much you are really tossing in the trash can and how you can make changes to lower the amount of waste.

  8. What a good idea – I’d never have thought of doing this! I think we’re pretty good though – we never waste food and we recycle everything that we can.

    1. We did pretty well when I started this the first time, too. We also recycle everything we can and have a compost bin so most food waste goes in there.

  9. There’s a lot out there we don’t know much about and I boldly this is one I do not know about. I do recycle but i’m not sure I have done it 100%.
    This seems to be an eye opener and I’ll strive to do better.

    1. It’s so true, it’s amazing how much there is to learn. Doing the trash audit is a great way to see where you’re at if you want to start the journey.

  10. Great tips for auditing one’s trash. Here in Japan, we have to sort our trash in more than ten different categories. And they are very strict on how to dispose of trash too.

  11. Melanie williams

    Haha love this because we actually do this too. We keep an eye on our waste and recycle as much as we can as a family x

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