The Zero Waste Family

According to the EPA, the average American throws away roughly 1,000 pounds of garbage a year. A family of four in California is attempting to reduce this number by living a virtually waste-free life. They have created only a handful of trash in six months.

How do they do it?

The family in question, the Johnsons, live by the “reduce, reuse, recycle” standard. They focus mainly on the reduce aspect of the standard and try to reduce the amount of waste generated in every aspect of their life. They do this by buying items like grains, snacks, tea, lotions, shampoo, and soap in bulk. Béa Johnson, the mother, brings her own reusable containers to the store to transport these items home. She brings cloth bags for dry goods, glass jars for wet items like meat and cheese, and refillable bottles for bath products. She even takes fresh loaves of bread home from the bakery using pillowcases.  Johnson also makes her own condiments and cans her own preserves. She uses vinegar to make cleaning products and a mix of baking powder and stevia to make toothpaste.

If Johnson can’t find a zero-waste or recyclable alternative for a product, she contacts the company in question to ask if they can green their operations.

According to the Johnsons, here are three common conceptions about going zero waste:

  1. It takes too much time. Johnson says that going zero-waste isn’t as time consuming as people think. With the systems in place, it’s autopilot.
  2. It’s too expensive. The family actually saves money by buying in bulk, avoiding processed foods, and reducing their overall purchasing.
  3. They feel deprived. The Johnsons say that they don’t feel deprived at all, and in fact, their standard of living has increased. They encourage family members to give their sons gifts of experience rather than material items. The boys are allowed as many toys as they can fit in four bins.

Would you consider going zero waste?

You can read more here or check out the Johnson family blog here.

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