‘Zero Waste Home’: An example to living easier

The book, “Zero Waste Home” by Bea Johnson was a recommended book I found on a blog I read about living without excess. Being this type of minimalist, earth-saving book, you may think it would be written by someone who has always lived this way. On the contrast, Bea first tells her story about how she came to acquire lots of things since her and her husband had good jobs. They had a huge house they spent a lot of time cleaning and maintaining. She tells her story all the stuff her and her family had and how her family eventually learned they didn’t need that lifestyle anymore.

We all may have our own reasons for wanting a simpler lifestyle. Maybe we want to save money, reduce our carbon footprint, be an example to others, or just to simply, live simpler. Living simpler may also mean different things to different people. We may rather live simpler so we can focus on larger things that are more meaningful. Maybe we want to work less, have been diagnosed with an illness, or want to enjoy nature more.

In ‘Zero Waste Home’, Bea first tells a story of how she began incorporating a zero-waste lifestyle into her everyday living. Do you remember the 3 R’s? Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Bea advocates adding two more R’s to that acronym. A zero-waste lifestyle means first, to ‘refuse’.

The other ‘R’ Bea adds is ‘rot’, which means composting. Food waste in the home can add up, and it’s easy to compost. You don’t even need an active compost. Throw a banana peel under the bush and put some mulch over it.

Refusing means saying no to those ‘freebies’ because you don’t need them. It also means to refuse buying something new. If you don’t need it, then refuse it. Refusing also means trying to borrow or buy something secondhand. Refusing may be the hardest, but it’s the easiest way to live a zero-waste lifestyle. Just don’t have it in the first place.

Bea continues the book by covering different areas we all deal with in life and how they can lend themselves to a zero-waste lifestyle. Beauty, Kitchen, Shopping, Cleaning, Clothes, and more. There are some great tips, and it’s even more inspiring just to know what one can do to be zero-waste and how much simpler we can live so we can focus more on what matters.

Living in a zero-waste home could also be called ‘living how our ancestors did…not that long ago’.

Modern plastics and other synthetic materials weren’t even invited yet. Materials were largely made of natural things and were reused. Back then thing’s weren’t as disposable, as an incredible amount of things are today. Coffee stirrers for example are used for a second and then thrown away.

From this book, I’ve taken opportunities to create less waste in my home. Although I do shop in the bulk isle at my grocery, I’m going to be more diligent about taking my own reusable containers in lieu of getting a new one from the store each time (plastic container or plastic baggie). Most of my waste comes from food packaging, tissue, and the kitty’s litter box. I already compost, so food waste has become an asset in my home instead of a burden.

Currently, I create about one plastic grocery’s bag of waste in my kitchen per week. Other than that, I have a trashcan in two bathrooms, my office, and my sewing room. I empty these trashcans once a month or less. The only waste I create in the sewing room is fabric scraps if I sew. In my office, the trash consists of food packaging when I’m snacking while working, maybe some packaging from non edible items, receipts, tape, etc. Rarely I will have trash like a pizza box or take out boxes.

I could reduce my waste a good amount by composting tissue that’s put in the trashcan. I reuse some dryer lint by creating ‘fire starters’ which consists of filling old toilet paper tubes with the dryer lint that we use for the outside fire pit. I’ve tried composting dryer lint (and the vacuum canister), and found it decomposes slower than the food waste, so I don’t compost it. I believe it’s because it has a lot of synthetic particles and also pet hair. This could be composted in a different space from the food waste however.

Creating a zero-waste home also means reducing recyclables that come into the home.

I have a lot more recycling each month than I do trash, about twice the amount or more. I don’t have recycling pickup, so having so much recyclables is a nuisance to port somewhere else. Recycling at my house includes, food cans including the cat’s canned food, food boxes, paper, junk mail, glass bottles from juice, and sometimes litter jugs. I reuse any newsprint or paper bags I get in the compost, even though it’s rare. I don’t buy milk and rarely drink alcohol, which are items that can add to the volume of a recycling bin. I recycle my #4 and other higher numbered plastics to Whole Foods where they send them off to be recycled.

One of the best ways to simplify our lives is to declutter our homes and streamline our cleaning regiments.

Less stuff for sure means it’s easier to clean. Easier to tote around the vacuum, easier to dust, less items to maintain. Being able to store everything in the room’s closet (that’s organized), makes cleaning so much easier. What we use to clean can also be simple by creating your own cleaners and using mostly baking soda, vinegar, water, soap, microfiber cloths, and old rags. Disposable cleaning items aren’t necessarily needed. I do keep a roll of paper towels on hand to clean bathroom counters and toilets. Otherwise, cleaning is done with washable cloths and scrubber brushes that last forever. I use dryer balls in the dryer to combat static and I put a drop of essential oil on them for scent.

There are so many tips in ‘Zero Waste Home’ to create a simpler lifestyle by not having so much and creating less waste. Many make a lot of sense. If you decided to check out Bea’s book, remember that it’s always easier to take little steps by adopting one tip at a time to form a habit. It’s like trying to go to the gym everyday when you’ve never worked out before, it won’t stick. Small steps people. Maybe one day we’ll all be able to fit our family’s trash from one year into a quart canning jar!

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