Living in a Zero-Waste Home [Video]

The Johnsons, a four-person family in Mill Valley, California, have been called “extreme,” “austere,” and “OCD,” by some onlookers. But I appreciate what they’re trying to do. The family has been on a trash diet to completely eliminate garbage and waste. In fact, they only produced two handfuls of trash in a year, according to Sunset Magazine!

The Johnsons started their endeavor when they moved out of a 3,000 square-foot home and into one that’s only 1,400 square feet. The home has an interior living wall, abundant storage, and functional transformer furniture.

Later, in December 2009, Béa Johnson announced her zero-waste diary in a blog called The Zero Waste Home. The #1 rule: refuse, refuse, refuse. Don’t let people give you stuff and don’t take it.

The rest is basically “reduce, reuse, recycle” in order. Reduce first, reuse what can’t be reduced, and recycle the rest. Recycling is a last resort option because only some of what is sent out as recycling actually gets recycled. It may be recycled, downcycled, or trashed.

Béa also explains how to go zero waste for activities such as dining, entertaining, and shopping, as well as in the home in areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, home office, and garden. These articles are quite insightful.

All in all, I think perhaps The Zero Waste Home is as much about control, thrift, and minimalism as it is about waste reduction and living lightly — things worth practicing and cultivating at home. What do you think?


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  • Joel

    I was inspired watching this. Unfortunately, this only shows what is possible if we set our minds to it and doesn’t represent the millions of Americans who fail to see the problem with consuption and over consumption. Small steps lead to bigger ones, one family making a difference hopefully inspires another, and another. Thanks for sharing. As much as I try, I know I can do better. Seeing others lead the way is always an inspiration.

  • Shawn (from AL)

    A fantastic role model for those of us who would strive to do the same. As Joel said, it’s not us who need a paradigm shift, though. It is the bulk of our neighbors that need to join in the efforts to minimize waste.

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  • Josephine

    I’m really grateful for this family’s efforts and willingness to share their how to’s.  While I won’t subscribe to the full blown life they have chosen, there is so much that I can implement that will really be good for my family.  Awesome stuff.

  • http://www.yourECOfriend.com/ your ECO friend

    Congratulations to this family. Maybe we can’t all go to a zero waste lifestyle but it is people like this that inspire people to at least reduce and reuse when possible.

    It is disappointing that manufacturers continue to over package merchandice. We have to start requesting it.

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