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?