3 Conducting a Waste Audit at Home

Every few years I conduct a waste audit at home so we can examine exactly what we are disposing of and come up with plans to eliminate or reduce these amounts. I know it sounds like a totally nerd thing to do (and it is) but it has really helped us to figure out where we are at and where we want to go. It is also cool to compare to previous years and see how far we have come.

2011 Mini Audit
2010 Mini Audit
2009 Full Audit

Our Results


Total weight = 13.4lbs/3 weeks (up 4lbs from 2009 - attributed to diapers)

Our garbage can be broken down into diapers (1 per day for night time use), non-recyclable plastic (cereal bags, cracker bags, the seal around margarine, plastic wrap from meat, frozen vegetable bags) and cereal bar wrappers.  Diapers will be gone from our waste stream soon (fingers crossed for the Christmas holidays!) as B is fully day time trained. Bags from cereal and crackers are harder because it seems every brand has them. I am looking into buying bulk for my cereal so that would eliminate 1 bag a month or 2. I am also looking into buying corn and peas in bulk when they are fresh in the summer and freezing them myself for use throughout the year.


Total weight =  24.6lbs/3 weeks (14.4lbs of cardboard/newspaper and 10.2lbs of glass/metal/plastic)
(down 7.8lbs from 2009 - even though we added 1 person!)

A large part of our reduction from previous years was purchasing our SodaStream. Our recycling program also now accepts aerosol cans at the curb so that has added a small amount to recycling totals (previous had to take to the landfill as household hazardous waste)


Total weight =  49.2lbs/3 weeks (up 34.8lbs since 2009)

The massive increase in composting amounts is because we now have a city program so we can compost significantly more than we could in 2009 (meat, cat litter etc). We need to focus more on reducing our food waste. Over the course of the audit I was constantly throwing out uneaten food or things that had spoiled. I re-organized our fridge to make it easier to see everything so I am hoping this will help to reduce the amount of food that goes bad before we can eat it.

Overall Results

We went from 56.2lbs of waste in 3 weeks during 2009 to 87.2lbs of waste in 3 weeks in 2012. I'm pissed and confused. Each week the amount we are putting into the trash is much less...the size of the bag we put out is tiny. But I guess the weight of what we are throwing out has increased. It is obvious that the area we need to focus our most attention on is composting. Yes it is good to compost but the end goal of every household should be to have no waste (recycling, organics, trash) leaving the home.

Conducting Your Own Waste Audit
1. Empty all waste from your house on your garbage day - this gives you a fresh start
2. Don't forget to clean out your fridge for spoiled leftovers
3. Weigh your blue boxes and city compost bin to get a baseline
4. Live your life like normal!
5. Record what you throw into each bin throughout the week
6. On garbage day each week weigh your bins individually. If they are light you may have to weigh yourself with them to get the weight to register. Weigh yourself first so you can subtract your weight.
7. Record all weights (don't use paper!)
8. Continue for as long as you want. I find 3-4 weeks is a good sample size
9. Review your results and look for opportunities to reduce and reuse.

Related Posts - Check them Out
Focusing on the 3 R's
No Paper Project

photo credit: WordRidden via photopin cc


  1. Are you eating more homemade food now than in 2009? Remember that food waste, even a small amount, would weigh a lot more than a Michelina's container. Saturated night diapers are also really heavy. (We use cloth but even those weigh a ton in the mornings!) I think my goal is to try to get more recycling/composting waste than garbage waste. I've always recycled because Vancouver has been picking up at the curb since I was a kid, but my suburb has just introduced a curbside composting program too. I need to remember to use it more frequently.

  2. We have always stayed about from the processed meals so both in 2009 and now we have had the same amount of homemade foods.

    I think the root cause is that we let more food go to waste than we ever had. Leftovers get forgotten about, veggies get tucked away and I find them only after they have gone bad. The addition of cat litter in 2012 makes up a bit of the extra compost weight too.

    I like your goal! I think that makes it easier to focus on what you want your end result to be.

  3. Left over food waste is big for us too. We have a city green bin program so at least it goes to that and not in the garbage.