Today, our modern lifestyle includes so many ways to get things done faster and make life more convenient. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson helps us recognize the huge impact our way of life has on the world; it creates mounds of garbage. In her book, she shows readers how they can live a life that generates very little waste. She knows – she is a real-life example.
Zero Waste Home gives a fascinating and honest account of how Johnson went from the typical American dream life with a large home, multiple cars and a 64 gallon trash can filled weekly to living a life of such little waste that she claims to only produce a quart of trash a year. That sounds hard to believe, but from what you learn reading this book, you’ll see the many ways we can produce dramatically less waste. Johnson acknowledges that achieving absolutely “zero” waste is impossible, but still sees it as a carrot to strive for because the results are well worth it.
The 5 Rs
Johnson has simplified the process of reducing waste into five “Rs:” Refuse (things we do not need), Reduce (things we need but can have less or fewer of), Reuse (things we consume and can use again), Recycle (things we consume that can be converted to reusable material) and Rot (compost the rest). The Rs provide a straightforward set of instructions which can be applied to just about everything in life. She also includes checklists and graphs to help you determine how to follow the Rs and take a different look all the stuff around you. Her list of unnecessary items includes things you wouldn’t instinctively consider going without, such as a peeler! It’s better to leave the skins on.
While the tips, tricks and perspectives taught in Zero Waste Home can do much to change the lifestyles of those with a sincere desire to put them to use, some readers may find changes logistically challenging. Johnson herself admits that at times she has gone too “green crazy,” did things that took more time than she had to give, and learned to make compromises. Despite not being able to follow her lead completely, everyone who reads this book will identify areas where they can make changes – and many of them.
From disposable cups and food packaging on planes to the waste she sees in her travels, Johnson realizes that she lives in a bubble; the world may never follow her lead to seek zero waste, but she knows that by setting an example, she can make a meaningful difference. She even defends her use of paper printing her book instead of only going digital. Having done the math she surmised that, statistically, the outcome of what people may learn from her book and the positive changes they would make from flipping through the pages outweigh the material it took to print it.
In a nutshell, Bea Johnson shows us how to live simple and clean, for ourselves and our world. She continues her teachings with a great blog where her followers can continue to challenge themselves to strive for a Zero Waste Home. Find her at www.zerowastehome.com.