yellow, blue, red and green waste bins lined up against a wall
Copy of Waste check (1)
Green food waste bin standing outside against a fence

Welcome to the Ailuna waste check action!

Not sure what a waste check is or how to do one? You’re not alone! The main goal with performing a waste check is to raise your awareness of what types of rubbish and recyclables you produce in your everyday life. Sometimes called a “waste audit,” it is the first step to understanding how you can create a sustainable, waste-free lifestyle that works for you!

That said, there are different ways to conduct a waste check. This page will walk you through one of those ways. 

Table of Contents

Why do a waste check?

These are some of the reasons why doing a waste check can benefit you:

  • If you want to reduce your waste, you have to start by knowing how much waste you normally produce. Doing a waste check helps you set reasonable goals as you continue working on reducing your waste.
  • The first step to doing better is to educate yourself!
  • It provides extra motivation to continue reducing your waste. Once you start, you probably won’t want to revert back to your old habits.
  • The norm now is to throw your rubbish in the bin and forget about it. Holding onto your rubbish can help you realise the impact of your current habits.


How to do your own waste check

Here’s what you need to know in order to start your own waste check:


  • 2 separate bins for collecting rubbish and recyclables (or, if you have a way to compost food waste, then 3 separate bins!)
  • Place to record data. This could be a piece of paper, an online document, or a spreadsheet.
  • Rubber gloves, to keep your hands clean and safe.


Get our FREE waste check tracker

To help get you started, we’ve created a FREE waste check sheet for you to copy. It has two tabs – one to record your waste, and one to analyse any repeat items (see below for details on this).

To use it, click the button below to go to our sheet. Then either hit “File” then “download as Microsoft Excel”, or “make a copy” to copy into your own Google Drive. Now, you’re ready to go. You could print it out but it’s better online and saves paper that way, too!

Step 1: Collect all your rubbish and recyclables every day for a week

Every day, hold onto everything that you are throwing away.

Tossing food scraps? A bottle? A wrapper? A box? Hold on to all of it for the day! It helps to carry a small container or bag with you to remember to store your waste.

Remember, it’s important that you don’t change your usual habits during your waste check! You want an honest list of the amount of waste you usually make so that you can identify ways to produce less waste.

Step 2: Record what you collected for the day

At the very end of each day, spend 5 minutes writing or recording in your spreadsheet what your waste was. It’s also helpful to take a photo of the day’s waste. Make sure to separate each day’s list into rubbish and recyclables (and compost if you have a compost pile).

Here’s an example of a list from Day 1:

Step 3: Keep it up for the rest of the week!

Keep doing this every day for the whole week. It’s usually easiest to record each day’s list on one sheet or notepad so it’s all together.

Step 4: Review the week’s log

Woohoo! You successfully recorded all the waste you produced for the past week. Now what should you do with all that data?

Try reorganising your list into repeat items (see the second tab on our spreadsheet if you’re using it!). 

To reorganise the list just stick it into a table that lists the waste item and the quantity for the week. I found that I threw away disposable coffee cups and sleeves 3 times, a gum wrapper twice, paper 10 times and much more.

Step 5: Start reducing your waste!

Notice any patterns in your list? I know for me, I didn’t realise I was getting through so many disposable cups in a week! Performing the waste check helped me understand my habits better, and now I know what areas I want to focus on for reducing my waste.

Tips & Tricks

Here are some handy hints and tips to help you on your way.

Recording your waste

There’s no “right way” to record your waste so if the above method doesn’t work for you, try a different way. Some options include taking a photo every day, weighing it all at the end of the week, or a combination. Do whatever works best for you!

Remembering to hold onto rubbish and recyclables

It can be hard to break the habit of throwing things in the bin, especially when you’re out and about. Try some of these solutions:

  • Carry a jar or bag with you specifically for holding onto the day’s waste. Clean it at the end of each day so it doesn’t get smelly.
  • Move your home dustbin to a different location to remind you to hang onto your waste, or leave a note above the bin.
  • Invite some friends or family members to take on this action with you! Starting a group chat or having some sort of accountability system makes it more motivating.

Sorting through waste at the end of the day

Yes, it can feel gross to sort through your rubbish and recyclables at the end of each day. Here are some tips on how to make it feel less icky:

  • Use a piece of cardboard or plastic to protect your floor.
  • If your bag or jar starts to smell from holding onto waste, try sprinkling some bicarbonate of soda (baking soda if you’re in the US) into it, letting it sit, then washing and air drying.
  • Instead of storing your waste in a long cylindrical bin, use a short and wide bin. Then, as you toss things throughout the day, make sure you can see all of your rubbish. When it comes time to make a list or snap a photo, you won’t have to touch anything!

Maybe recognising the unpleasantness of waste isn’t such a bad thing! One goal of this action is to better understand the amount of rubbish you’re sending to landfill. A lot of the time, our waste is “out of sight out of mind” once it’s in the bin. So sorting through rubbish and reminding ourselves of what we’re introducing into the environment is one way to come to terms with the amount of waste we’re producing.

Knowing what can be recycled

Sometimes it can be hard to tell what’s recyclable and what isn’t. It gets even more complicated when different areas recycle different things! Here are some ways to tell what is recyclable and what isn’t:

  • Check your local authority’s waste management website.Usually they list what’s kerbside recyclable and address commonly questioned pieces of waste.
  • Use the Recycle Now website.
  • Ask the Ailuna Community in your Ailuna app – don’t be shy! It’s full of like-minded people who may have once sought the answers to the questions you have.


Let’s get started!

The Ailuna team is always available to help you out if you have any questions. Feel free to also hop onto the Community page to see how other users have handled the action. Good luck, you’ve got this!