We have all heard of audits in our lives… compliance audits, financial audits and this and that audit… If you’ve noticed the restrooms in corporate offices have a daily audit. These audits usually bring with them a lot of anxiety and urgency. Everything else stops when there is a major audit going on. Isn’t it?

So, here’s the first idea. How about auditing our homes for sustainability? How about taking a step back and looking through our homes and our habits to analyze where we stand in terms of:

  1. consumption of natural resources
  2. hoarding of stuff
  3. generation of waste
  4. habits

We’ll look at each of the above four audit points one at a time and what you could audit in each. The best would be for you to do this activity with the whole family or at least a couple of members of your family.

Consumption of natural resources – Audit for Water

How to do it: 

a. Put down a list of all the ways in which you consume water. Example: drinking, washing clothes, washing dishes, bathing, mopping, gardening etc. 

b. Write the frequency with which you each of the activities and the quantity consumed each time or put an average for the day against each activity. 

c. Multiply the frequency with the amount and 30 (number of days). This will give you the total amount of water consumed for each activity and the whole month.

Now, look at the total quantity of water. How does it make you feel?

2. Hoarding stuff – Audit for essentials vs. non-essentials

Now this will be a tough one as there is stuff everywhere in a home. Let’s try not to overwhelm ourselves 🙂

How to do it:

a. Make a list of all the rooms, cabinets and other storage units in the house. 

b. Keeping bathrooms and kitchens in the list for sure, identify two or three other spaces/cabinets/corners you would like to audit.

c. Go to each of the identified areas and look around closely. Make a list of all the stuff there is in that space. Against each item mention:

-Number of the same item (example: number of shampoo bottles in the bathroom)

-Number of non-essential from the total numbers. A good way to tell is whether the item is a need or a want (example: 2 shampoo bottles out of the 3 are not used and can be given away)

-Items that contain toxins that could be harmful to self and waterways (example: the shampoo has parabens, so is generating toxins)

-Number of items that are non-bio-degradable once they enter waterways or soil (example: the shampoo has ingredients that are bio-degrade but only after a few months)

-All items packaged in recyclable material (example: the shampoo bottle is category 5 plastic, so not recyclable)

You can use this checklist for any number of items, spaces, areas, rooms in the house. It can be overwhelming at first, but the idea is to get a general understanding of where one stands on the hoarding of the ‘non-essential, non-degradable, toxic’ items scale. 🙂

3. Generation of Waste – Audit for organic and in-organic waste

How to do it:

  1. Answer if you are segregating wet waste from dry everyday
  2. For a couple of days, continuously, look into the waste basket at the end of the day before going to bed or early next morning and check the quantity of waste generated from your household. Note the dry vs wet waste ratio as well.
    1. Check how much of the waste is plastic, paper and other materials in the dry basket. Note the ratio.
    1. Check how much of the wet waste is cooked food vs. uncooked (peels/uneaten fruit/cut vegetables etc.). Note the ratio.
  3. Also notice the amount of packaging waste from the overall waste generated.

4. Habits – Audit for the 5 R’s

  1. Refuse – are you able to distinguish between essential and non-essential purchases and refuse the non-essential?
  2. Reduce – have you consistently tried to reduce your waste and consumption of non-essential commodities?
  3. Reuse – Do you use single-use items in your home (things which can be used only once and then discarded like plastic straws/plastic takeaway boxes)
  4. Repurpose – How often do you recreate something from an item that would otherwise be discarded (like dusters from used T’s or dispensers from used bottles)
  5. Recycle – Do you ensure your discarded, recyclable items are thrown in the bin but sent to the recycling center or the kabadiwala (scrap dealer) for recycling?
An example to do the audit

You can use this audit every now and then to assess how well you’ve progressed on your sustainability journey. 

Remember: The audit results may or may not be to your liking. Remember that this is only the first step and the audit gives us a good picture of the depth and dimension of our own lifestyle habits. The results should only be a motivator and inspiration for us to take the necessary steps for us to reduce our impact.

Hope you have fun auditing your home, just like I did… From the next post, we’ll start exploring solutions that’ll help us fair better on the next audits ;).

Have more auditing ideas? Do share them in the comments section… we are all in it together 

For more, visit Swadhaarani

Love and Grace.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Raman

    Hey Anu…this is a great thought. You’ve mentioned about paraben in shampoos that is toxic. Could u also share more info on such house hold stuff that we are unknowingly using and causing pollution.. A list of such common items would act as an eye opener for us..

    1. Anu

      Sure, Raman. Will be doing that shortly with one of the segments… keep following 🙂

  2. Saurab

    These are very sensible ideas, Anu. Although I feel it’s a bit difficult to audit water because “quantifying” our water use for each activity becomes very abstract (at least, it did when I tried it!). But I completely agree that some form of audit is necessary to keep a track of how we live. I’ve been auditing the amount of waste I generate and I actively try to reduce that amount each year.

    So glad to have run into your blog!

    1. Anu

      I guess the intent is also to get a sense of where we are… even though absolute audits can be difficult but it does bring in a certain mindfulness 🙂 What do you think?

      1. Saurab Babu

        Yes, if the intent is mindfulness and not accuracy, this will certainly help 🙂 And its much needed. We might be heading into a harsh summer…

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