The last few weeks have been, to put it lightly, wacky. We’re all feeling unsure, nervous, stir-crazy, [insert every other emotion here]. I know that I am personally seeking out anything that can stop me from constantly checking the news and feeling hopeless for a minute. People have been figuring out some great ways to use this time at home in a positive way. Folks are creating art, reading books, doing yoga. At Imago, we’ve been sharing daily Imago Rangers activities to get kids and their families outside. All of those are awesome ways to feel a little more grounded during these strange times. Another way to use this time in a positive way is to take a deep dive into a topic that you might not have had time for before.
This spring at Imago we are going to focus our sustainability efforts on reducing waste. Is this topic something you’ve been interested in but felt too overwhelmed or unwelcome to investigate? Us too! Now that we have some extra time on our hands, we’re going to use it to take a deeper dive into this whole “zero waste” thing. That “zero waste” term is thrown around a lot these days. The concept behind that movement is awesome, but we worry that the trendiness of the movement may make it seem inaccessible. Zero waste swaps don’t need to be Instagram worthy to be effective. During this reducing waste sustainability focus, we are going to learn about real, easily accessible ways we can all reduce the amount of waste we produce. This is going to take real change and dedication, but once we start making the small changes, the bigger ones will come more naturally. And we promise not to try and sell you a bamboo toothbrush or a $40 set of reusable cutlery.
We’re starting with a trash audit and we think you should too!
The best way to figure out how to reduce the amount of waste you produce is to know what kind of waste is in your trash can. The basic idea behind a trash audit is that you start your week with an empty bin, go about your week as usual, throwing away what you throw away. At the end of the week, you open up the bin and see what trash you created. This helps to categorize the types of things we’re throwing away, hopefully leading us to investigate ways to alternatively consume or dispose of those items.
Our top trash audit tips:
- If you can’t or currently don’t compost at home, put produce scraps in a separate container for this audit week. You’re not going to want to dig through rotting produce when you’re looking at all your trash. But, don’t forget about the produce just because it’s in a separate bag. If it’s veggies, consider turning it into veggie broth and throwing it in your freezer until you need it. Food scraps account for a huge percentage of trash produced in the home, but that can easily be avoided by composting it. We have resources coming that will provide some options from composting at home or taking those food scraps elsewhere to be composted.
- Count or weigh your trash. At the very least, take a picture or take note of what you produced. Doing this will give you a starting point for what reducing waste alternatives you’ll want to be on the lookout for.
- Don’t force your family or roommates to participate if they aren’t interested. In my experience, forcing people into lifestyle changes is one of the best ways to ensure that they’ll resent you and not want to participate. Audit the trash you produce and if your family or roommates want to participate, great, do it together. If not, let them be and get a separate bag for your trash this week.
This blog has some great tips for conducting a trash audit, I definitely recommend the read! Her other articles are also great, approachable starting points to check out before we go on this reducing waste journey.
We’ll see you in a week! I’m going to be keeping a “waste audit week” journal that I’ll share that will include difficulties I experienced and alternatives I’ve reflected on. We’re also putting together some resources to share about easy swaps that can be made for things we commonly throw away. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with this reducing waste journey and please tag us and share how your waste audit goes!
Are you going to help people distinguish between trash and recyclables? Most people don’t really know what can be recycled and how to do it. Hamiltoncountyrecycles.org has a lot of info on this and they have printed flyers on how to store and use perishables. Also magnets or the kitchen.
Hey Marilyn! Great question. We definitely are going to do some posts about responsible recycling and share Hamilton County Recycling’s resources. We want to make sure people are recycling correctly, but we are emphasizing reducing all the waste we produce–recycling included.