Zero-waste California home

A family in Mill Valley, California, with an intention to live simpler and lighter on the planet, has done something virtually unheard of in American culture; by rethinking and redesigning a few things in their life, they have a zero-waste home.

It’s no secret that almost everything we purchase is over-packaged and that much of that packaging is non-recyclable, so ends up in landfills. Scott and Béa Johnson, however, have sidestepped this problem by eliminating waste before it enters their home. Béa, a mother of 2 boys, purchases bulk food from the store and puts it directly into reusable containers from home. This isn’t just for dry goods, however; produce, meat, dairy and baked goods also get the same treatment. This can sometimes be a challenge, but is a system that works well for them. Occasionally their practices are met with confusion from people accustomed to seeing packaged goods everywhere:

“Some of the kids’ friends came over recently and said, ‘You have no food here,’ ” says Béa. “They didn’t recognize this as food since there weren’t any boxes.”

The practices also apply to other areas of their lives, including childrens toys, entertainment, and clothing. In addition to being very environmentally friendly, this lifestyle change has reduced their expenses as well.

While perhaps not an option that most families could practically adopt overnight, the Johnsons set a rather extreme example for what’s possible with a little planning and redesign. Perhaps this is a trend that will catch on, as there is already at least one store in Europe that caters to zero-waste shopping.

The Zero Waste Home via

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Steve holds a degree in Environmental Engineering Technology from Humber College in Toronto, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He currently lives in Victoria BC and works as a green building consultant specializing in residential projects.


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