Sustainable Step – Audit your rubbish

The Sustainable Steps series provides quick and easy tips about how to make more sustainable choices in your everyday life.


It may sound a bit gross but the best way to identify where your waste is coming from is to audit your rubbish.

How many rubbish bins do you have in the house? One in the kitchen, bathroom, home office? 

To do a rubbish audit, gather up all your bins and have a look inside. What kinds of things are in there? Typical things may include:

Kitchen
  • food scraps
  • plastic packaging
  • paper
  • cardboard
  • plastic food containers
  • glass bottles or jars
  • cans
Bathroom
  • disposable face wipes
  • body wash containers
  • shampoo, conditioner moisturizer, toner & cleanser containers
  • old make-up
  • disposable razors
  • deodorant
home office
  • paper, paper & more paper
  • pens, highlighters & markers
  • printer and toner cartridges

Once you know what types of things you are throwing away, you can start to identify ways to divert these things from landfill. You can do this by adopting the R’s of sustainability – rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, repair or rot.

Things like food scraps, paper and cardboard can be composted or added to a worm farm. Paper and cardboard can also be recycled. 

Glass and aluminum are wonderful materials that can be recycled an infinite number of times without losing quality.

Plastic containers can be recycled. Also soft plastics like plastic bags and soft plastic packaging (think frozen vegetables and the plastic bags inside your cereal boxes) can be recycled at most major supermarkets in Australia. However, it is important to remember that plastic can only be recycled a small number of times before it ends up in land fill or worse in our natural environments.

To avoid plastic, try and choose products that are packaged in glass, aluminum or cardboard. Or perhaps you don’t need that product at all or can make it yourself without the plastic packaging? 

More significant change is required for products that are not easily recyclable from home. This involves actively seeking out recycling options, switching to a different product that is more sustainable or not using that product any more.

Once you have completed your rubbish audit you will be well on the way to knowing where you can reduce your waste and live more sustainably.