Whether your family is already recycling at home, or would like to get started, you can make a big difference by completing a family waste audit. This is an organized way to sort through the trash and make decisions about how to get rid of it in the most responsible way.
First, do some thinking about trash. Is everything you throw away really trash? Is there something else you can do with stuff beside throw it away? What choices can you make so that you throw away less trash each week?
Next, get organized for a waste audit.
You will need three plastic bags and a pen. Label the bags as follows:
- Stuff we can reuse, sell or give away
Next, go to each room in the house and look in the trashcan. Pull out anything that can be reused, sold or given away, as well as what can be recycled. Put everything in its proper bag. Empty what's left into the trash bag. (Hint: Stay safe! Put on some rubber gloves or cover your hands with a plastic bag before reaching into the trash can.)
Divide the trash into these categories: reusable at home (if you would really reuse it), reusable by someone else (to sell or donate), recyclable in your municipality, compostable in your backyard (non-meat food and food soiled paper), and trash. Do the same thing in all the rooms in the house.
Gather everyone in your home together to look at the results of your waste audit and talk about what you see. Which bag has the most stuff in it? Which bag has the least stuff in it? Did you find stuff in the trash that could be recycled or reused? Could there be a way to recycle more and throw away less trash at your house?
Volunteer to be the "waste manager" at your home. Place containers in the appropriate rooms to collect recycling, reusable items, compostable food, and trash. Some rooms may not even need trashcans (just recycling containers).
Wait a week or so and do a follow-up waste audit. You should have a much smaller bag of trash this time. Bring your family together to see the results and congratulate them on making less trash!