Happy Earth Day 2013 –

Please allow me to introduce the family that does not generate garbage. That’s right, this Johnson family has a zero-waste policy.

Approximately five years ago, Mom Bea Johnson, along with her husband and two sons, began their journey to zero waste while shopping for a new home in coastal California. The goal was to find a place that was near great schools, interesting restaurants and fun places to shop. Finding a home to meet their needs took about a year, so the family moved into a small apartment, one that only allowed for the absolute essentials and put their additional possessions into storage. This apartment living made them aware that they were not only enjoying more quality time as a family, they were able to do so without so much “stuff’ distracting them and creating clutter. Once they found a suitable house, they settled on one that was approximately half the size of what they thought they needed and they ended up selling most of what they were holding on to in storage.

Bea Johnson began to realize that their were ways she and her family could reduce waste and began researching zero-waste strategies, as this was something she and the family decided on several years ago, when not much information was available on the internet, they began to experiment to discover which ideas would work best for them. Through trial and error, the Johnson family developed their own “Five R’s” for their zero-waste lifestyle:

  1. REFUSE anything that is not needed – junk mail and freebies

  2. REDUCE whatever is not necessary for comfortable living by selling or donating it

  3. REUSE – buy secondhand, get reusable items instead of disposables, try shopping with reusable packaging

  4. RECYCLE – most municipalities offer consumer recycling

  5. ROT – compost whatever you can

When grocery shopping, Bea Johnson has a system whereby she uses her reusable totes, pillow cases, glass jars, cloth and mesh bags. She shops in bulk so she can fill her jars with the necessities of unpackaged meats, fish, cheeses, oils, honey, cereals…her essentials for her family. The totes and pillow cases serve her well when transporting produce and breads. The Johnsons soon found that their decision to grocery shop in bulk was a huge money saver, as evidenced by their bank statements showing how much their decision paid off. Turns out, buying in bulk is less expensive because you are not paying for all that packaging which also ends of generating more waste.

Even in our time of email being so prevalent, junk mail is still a problem, but not for the Johnsons. If you are bothered by too much unwanted mail visit one of the following sites and have your information removed from their lists:

  1. https://www.dmachoice.org/ – helps you stop getting the mail you don’t want

  2. https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t – opt out of credit card offers

  3. https://www.catalogchoice.org/ – say goodbye to those catalogs that no longer interest you

Also, keep in mind that if your problem id too much, unwanted  first class mail, you can write “return to sender” on the envelope and return it or if third class mail is a problem you will have to open the mail and contact the sender directly.

When it comes to housecleaning supplies and detergents there lots of products that can be made at home – http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm – a great resource I found and have used for the upkeep of my bathroom and kitchen, as well as keeping my home clean and smelling fresh.

Being knowledgeable of our environmental impact starts with baby steps, just start small by remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room, bring your own bags to the grocery store, or using less disposable goods. Small things can lead to big impacts and, therefore, more opportunities for others to enjoy the beauty of the world once we leave it to others.








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