Photo: Check your trash

Dumpster diving can be fun. (Credit: Linda Mackie)

Anyone on your staff who loves archeology — or garbology — will love this activity.

Get a clear snapshot of what is leaving your building each week and how you can become more effective at reducing the amount of waste going to the landfills, by taking a peak in your office dumpster. This activity can be adapted to the amount of time available and staff interest at your workplace.

  1. First, secure support from management, and then announce the project at a staff meeting or via email.
  2. Purchase incentive prizes or secure donations from neighbouring businesses. Great prize ideas include movie tickets, commuter mugs, plants, gift certificates to local grocers, transit pass, packages of organic seeds and local wine.
  3. Next, appoint a team of Dumpster Divers to do the deed.
  4. Cancel garbage and recycling pick up for the week of your event, to ensure a representative sample. Conduct your dive the day before the next pick up.
  5. On the appointed day, dive in:
    • Count all the bags of garbage in your dumpster.
    • Randomly select a sample bag to examine closely.
    • Unpack the selected bag and separate it into categories: paper, glass, metals, plastics, compostables, hazardous waste, wood and textiles.
    • Weigh each pile.
    • Calculate the percentage weight of each pile against the total.
    • If neighbours get curious, use the opportunity to start a conversation about what we can all do to lower our impact. Report back to staff.
    • Share photos and stories (an excuse to talk trash!) from Divers about what they observed. Take special note of what might have been reused or repaired, recycled or composted — that's the stuff you can do something about.
  6. Ask staff for feedback, ideas and improvements.
  7. Implement those ideas.

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