Want a New Year’s Resolution? Start a trash diary.

I find most green-focused promises to ourselves tend to come around April, in time for Earth Day rather than in time for the new year. By now you’ve probably switched out all your incandescents for CFLs, you’re buying some organic/local stuff, you turn off the tap when you brush your teeth, and you already recycle. So what additional green things could you possibly resolve to do?

Start a trash diary.

When people want to lose weight they keep a food diary. When people want to save money they track their spending. When you want to waste less keep a trash diary!

It doesn’t have to gross or yucky. Just take note of what you’re getting rid of. Keep it just for yourself or keep a log of the entire family’s trash. Over time you’ll be able to see what exactly you’re throwing away and identify ways to reduce your waste.

I’m keeping track of everything I either recycle or throw away, on-the-go or at work, and what my husband and I throw away or recycle at home. I’m also keeping track of what I saved, or rather, the ‘waste less’ options I made in the day that could have otherwise been disposable.

I started my trash diary today.

What I discarded in the trash:
1 Plastic salad container and lid (lunch at work, #1 plastic but not bottle shaped, trash.)
5 tissues (getting over a cold, trash.)
2 napkins (lunch, trash.)

What I recycled:
50 sheets of paper (at work, cleaning out some files, all recycled.)
1 AM Metro (small free newspaper I picked up for reading on the commute, recycled.)

What I saved (on-the-go):
1 coffee cup (used reusable mug for morning coffee.)
1 plastic fork (used my real flatware at work.)

If starting a trash diary makes it to your New Year’s Resolutions, tell me about it.


About Amy Marpman

Director of Recycling Services at Great Forest, Inc. in NYC. Continually finding the balance of idealism with the practical realities that make or break recycling programs.
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9 Responses to Want a New Year’s Resolution? Start a trash diary.

  1. Stacey Sarnicola says:

    With a household of allergies, we use old t-shirts that we use and wash instead of tissues; we did it to save money, not the environment, but usually those two go hand in hand.

  2. Amy Marpman says:

    Great tip Stacey! Thanks!

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  8. I like your blog. We started something very similar with the new year. Our blog is http://wastefreehome.wordpress.com/ Come and check it out sometime. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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