Green Living Inspiration: The Zero Waste Home

Green Living Inspiration: The Zero Waste Home

Landis Carey
Jan 19, 2011

"The Northern California home in which Béa Johnson lives with her husband, two kids, and dog has all the trappings of a normal life—a garden, a TV, computers. What is doesn't have is garbage. That's because this family throws nothing away," writes Sunset magazine in their January article The Zero-Waste Home. This story fueled a lively discussion in our house, so I thought I'd share.

The Zero-Waste Home gives a great tour of the Johnson abode, highlighting the benefits of living with less to reduce waste:

  • The kitchen is free of all packaging—from the pantry to the refrigerator and freezer. Drawers are uncluttered while countertop space isn't consumed by bulky paper towels.
  • Closets are organized and sparse: Limiting the articles of clothing they own, Béa caps out at 6 pairs of shoes, 7 tops, 7 pants, and 2 skirts. The couple has also adopted the habit of only shopping twice a year at a thrift store to "replace items that are stained, worn, or outgrown."

"When we started getting rid of things, it was kind of addictive," she continues. "In a recession, people are inclined to keep things, but I feel the opposite. The less I have, the richer I feel. Stuff weighs you down."

How does Béa recommend readers pare down and run zero waste homes? To take an aggressive approach, consider the 80/20 rule: "You use only 20 percent of what you have in your home. Evaluate your possessions, decide which are in that 20 percent, and get rid of the rest."

On reducing your waste, Bea explains, "Refuse, refuse, refuse, and then reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. The first step is to refuse products and packaging that you'll have to dispose of later."

Re-Nest Readers, please tell us: Is living with less to reduce your waste possible? If yes, what would you refuse first?

(Images: Sunset)

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