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About a year ago, I read a book that opened my eyes to something completely new and thoroughly captivating: a lifestyle of producing zero waste. Bea Johnson, author of The Zero Waste Home, has produced only a mason jar’s worth of trash in the last year – and that’s including all of the trash for her family of four.
Ever since reading this book, I’ve been trying to find ways to reduce the amount of stuff I use and get rid of, as I’ve learned that being eco-friendly is more than just recycling and carpooling to work.
Reducing your waste not only helps the planet, it has health, financial, and time-saving benefits.
Whether you think this idea is intriguing or completely unachievable, I wanted to share a little bit about the book and the ways we can try to incorporate zero waste into our lifestyles.
Bea lives a zero waste lifestyle by following the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.
Refuse what you don’t need, such as single-use plastics, freebies (anyone else have way too many hotel pens?), junk mail, plastic bags, etc. This way you won’t accumulate ‘stuff’ that you didn’t really want in the first place.
Reduce what you already use, like packaging, products, your car, technology, and reduce the quantities of things you buy.
Shop with non-plastic bags, rent out your car or house (think Airbnb style), buy used, buy smart (durable, rechargeable), and extend the life of what you already own by repairing it or using it in new ways.
Because recycling uses a lot of energy to recycle and it’s confusing to know what can be recycled and what can’t (this Portlandia clip is so spot on), Bea says you should look at labels before you buy anything to make sure it can easily be recycled or reused before purchasing.
Aka composting. Instead of throwing away food scraps, you can compost your food waste, turn it into soil, and use it to grow new things. It’s nature’s way of recycling!