Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
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Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  532 ratings  ·  141 reviews
In Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson shares the story of how she simplified her life by reducing her waste. Today, Bea, her husband, Scott, and their two young sons produce just one quart of garbage a year, and their overall quality of life has changed for the better: they now have more time together, they’ve cut their annual spending by a remarkable 40 percent, and t...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Scribner (first published April 1st 2013)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,553)
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Katie
I started following Bea Johnson's blog http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/ a few years ago when I really started to rethink the amount of waste that my household produced and the kind of environmental impact I was making. I did make quite a few changes in my life as a result of her influence, and I find her lifestyle (and this book) to be compelling, challenging, and totally brilliant. Now almost all of my household cleaners are homemade (almost--Arizona's brutally hard water makes powdered dishw...more
Stacia
Nov 03, 2013 Stacia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Earthlings
I love this book. I read various simplifying/decluttering type books every now & then; this book is not quite that category, but similar in that Johnson has simplified her family's life extensively by trying to avoid creating any trash (zero waste). I think her choices are entirely commendable & she shows that it can actually work for a suburban family of four.

Rather than the recycle mantra we all know, Johnson urges much more proactivity with these 5 Rs:

* Refuse (stop stuff from coming...more
Jenn
Jun 23, 2013 Jenn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
I learned so much from this book and will be implementing many of her suggestions.

My most significant takeaways from the book:
1) Reduce junk mail. Top 4 ways to stop receiving junk mail are dmachoice.org, optoutprescreen.com, catalogchoice.org, yellowpagesoptout.com. Bam - I just cut out half my paper mail.
2) Composting can considerably reduce what you send to the landfill, since 1/3 of household waste is organic. I'm still deciding on a method, but my goal is to get a compost set up by the end...more
Elizabeth
So pretentious and illogical.
The author, Bea Johnson spends much of the intro discussing how much time she saved now that she no longer spends weekends shopping for furniture for her massive house.
Okay, that's reasonable but then she goes on and on about how much time you will save by eliminating possessions and becoming zero-waste. But when you actually read her account of her activities in her new lifestyle you realize she has only reallocated her time. She doesn't seem to have any more free...more
Emma
I first learned about the Johnsons and their Zero Waste lifestyle through a Yahoo! video clip called SecondAct, highlighting their life that involves extremely little trash (Bea herself said that they do have a little bit of trash, unavoidable given today's manufacturing processes). Ever looking for ways to save a little bit of cash (college student alert!), I picked up this book in order to pick up a few tips. While I think this lifestyle can be a little extreme for some, there are tons of very...more
Jennifer
3.5 Stars
I obviously love reading, and one of the reasons that is so is that I discover new things about myself. For instance, this year alone I've discovered that I'm way ahead of the hipster crowd, that I was an early fan of the flavor of grass-fed beef (early as in from the high chair) and now I discover that I must live in California!?!

OK, a little background - I first learned about Johnson and her Zero Waste efforts when she was featured a few years ago in Sunset magazine. I admired her bea...more
Gina
The author says at the top of the book that people won't necessarily try all of her suggestions, and that some of them are more extreme than others. Still, it's really hard to take a book seriously when it suggests cutting down on make-up waste by getting eyeliner permanently tattooed on - or make your own by burning almonds. Perhaps, just don't use eyeliner instead?

As Johnson predicted, I certainly won't be adopting all of her techniques, but this book is a good reminder that even if you don't...more
Debbie
I wish I had time to make my own mustard and my own makeup. The author seems sincere in her desire to keep her footprint to a minimum, but she is not living in my reality. I did find some tips for how to cut back on junk mail and gift giving, but mostly I just wondered how the author had any friends left.
Cherie In the Dooryard
I read the author's blog and find that she constantly challenges my thinking regarding waste. Is she extreme? Yes. Oh yes. And she knows it and admits it, declaring that she sees herself as the experimenter in order to save everyone else the time of figuring it out. So I was pre-disposed to be interested in this book. And...no. Just no. She's a blogger, not a writer or researcher, and it shows. There was a lot more that could have been done here in terms of making the waste reduction argument an...more
Tabitha
I think this is a brilliant book! I never feel like Bea is preaching or suggesting that everyone follow her lifestyle to the letter, but that she is just sharing all the techniques she has discovered over many years of exploration. How you implement her ideas is up to you.
After listening to the audiobook of "The Story of Stuff" I was looking for practical ideas to cut back on my disposables, and Zero Waste Home is full of ideas and recipes. As a visual artist, I appreciate Bea's focus on creati...more
Julie
I definitely admire a woman on a mission. And it's always nice to read a missive by someone with even more crazy-out-there ideas than my own.

The problem with this book for me was that the simplicity goal and the zero-waste goal are two entirely different things, and I can't quite see how to implement them without contradiction. How am I supposed to get my wardrobe down to, like, 25 pieces total, for example, without getting rid of basically everything I own and then purchasing those 25 magical...more
Tracy
I love the idea of a zero wast home, I really do. And for some people who are living in the right cities or towns this actually might be almost achievable. But know that for my family it just is not practical. But I am always searching for other ideas to try and bring us closer to a zero waste home. And I did get many tips and tricks to improve what we are currently doing, and even some new ideas to try out from this book. Which in all honesty is what I expected, and I do recommend this book if...more
Julie
Well. Zero Waste Home made me feel 40% inspired, 60% guilty! :) We are far from having zero waste (or a quart size jar of garbage per year, as her family does) come out of our home, but any steps in that direction is worth a try and Bea Johnson's book is FULL of tips, ideas, and recipes for homemade EVERYTHING. I thought I was doing a great job at recycling, but Johnson talks about what an inefficient short-term "solution" it is to the real problem of our everygrowing landfills. Her 5 R's are Re...more
Dholsten
A little put off with the "people in the French countryside possess a certain kind of craftiness that allow them to extend the life of their belongings." I conjoin this statement with the other modern-day fairytale: there are no fat French women. Some groups of people that "waste not/want not" that come to my mind--the Shakers. Native Americans. Quilt makers. The Amish. I am sure that are so many others. I know I am interested in reducing waste because I know that I can control the by products (...more
Michele
I found Bea's blog through pinterest. There was a photo of her kitchen with all of the glass jars perfectly organized and looking beautiful. I clicked through to her blog and discovered the idea of a zero waste home. Her blog was a bit overwhelming to me, but I was interested enough to check out her book from our local library. I'm so glad I did. Her book walked me through what I originally wanted to know. I love how at the very beginning of the book she not only introduces the idea of a zero wa...more
Laura Hughes
A comprehensive guide to reducing everyday waste (trash, wrappers, disposable items, etc.) in the home and also while out and about. While I think of myself as a pretty low carbon footprint person, I'd never really thought carefully about my home trash production, and this book is eye-opening in thinking about how much there is and how much can be avoided. It's a new way of looking at things and it opens a whole new world of annoying things to force your family to do! (The "simplifying" in the t...more
Lo
It was fine. I wasn't expecting it to talk about the institutional problems of waste, where government farm subsidies go, poverty... this is very clearly a woman who lives in a bubble and doesn't understand that not everyone makes six figures or that half of America constitutes "food deserts".

Would have been nice, since becoming an actual activist is the only way to enact the changes that would bring this lifestyle closer to business as usual, but it much prefers monied feel-good-isms that let t...more
anexactinglife
I originally approached this book without much enthusiasm because I thought the author would be a zealot. I have to laugh at myself. What did I expect from a book called Zero Waste Home? Obviously she wasn't going to do anything in half measures! And the world needs some zealots to inspire us. So I read on.

Believe it or not, I found the author to be on the far side of moderate, but not "holier-than-thou." So if you have avoided reading the book in case it makes you feel guilty, you should know a...more
Anna
Some may think that Bea Johnson's lifestyle is extreme, however I found reading about her zero waste home fascinating. I was drawn to the idea of simplifying my life, that maybe I don't need so many things? I know in my own life that sometimes all my things become a burden, sometimes I can't find the things I really need because they are hiding somewhere underneath all the things I don't need. So many of Bea's ideas seem to be solutions to my problems, having less stuff will save me time and mon...more
Ruth
It's good food for thought, but many of her recommendations are health hazards. The first few chapters give you enough info to rethink your lifestyle. The rest of the book, with suggestions to implement her ideals listed by rooms, just come across as comedy.
Heidi
While I did not read this entire book, it made an impact on how I view my spending, organizing and waste-making habits. The three stars reflect my enjoyment of the author's writing style and ability to share her knowledge.

However..... and this is a BIG "however"......, the religious zeal with which the author orders her life is staggering to me. I commend people who possess commitment and discipline. But, the author's entire life seems to revolve around this obsession. I just have to wonder if...more
Lisa
I really enjoyed this book. Johnson's approach is intense and idiosyncratic (read: not for everyone), but I appreciate her commitment, and see my own sometimes all-or-nothing attitude in her amusing stories about taking dedication to the extreme (foraging moss to replace toilet paper?!). The book offers useful hands-on advice and recipes, as well as primer-type info about just where our garbage and recycling go, and why therefore we should care about how much we generate.

I doubt I'm going to be...more
Pequete
Je pensé que j'était très soucieux de l'environnement, mais aprés lire ce livre, j'ai réalisé que j'ai encore un long chemin à parcourir pour être en mesure de me sentir vraiment fier de mes efforts sur l'environnement...

Contrairement à certains lecteurs qui ont trouvé les suggestions de l'auteur et le ton radical de son écriture snob, j'ai trouvé le livre une lecture très agréable et inspirante. L'auteur reconnaît que dans le début, l'enthousiasme l'a amenée à tester des choses un peu radicales...more
Linda
While I will never get to the extreme that Bea lives, I appreciate her tips and ideas. The book does make you more aware of where you can reduce, refuse, etc. I won't be making homemade mascara, but I do wash my hair with baking soda. Take what works, leave the rest and don't feel guilty!
Amy
I've waited so long for this book. Bea is my Zero Waste hero. Too extreme?!?! Pffffft. People just need to try harder.
Jeannie
Johnson discusses the problem of conspicuous consumption and trying to reverse this trend by having her family by live more simple. At first it seemed a little preachy, but she does offer very concrete, doable ways of paring down your life style. Some suggestions may seem a little far fetched such as making your own paper or composting animal waste; however, she emphasizes that a a family or person must do what is in their comfort zone to be successful in cutting waste. this is a book well worth...more
Maggie
This is not a good book unless you're ready for it. She is extreme, yes, and there are a lot of recommendations that will just not work for most people. That said, I admire her determination and resourcefulness, and have already found ways to incorporate some of her suggestions into my life without too much fuss.

Going zero waste is a spectrum, not a mandate - her point is that you have to decide for yourself what is "worth it" (time, money, peace of mind). I find that I am consuming more conscio...more
Florence Millo
She has wonderful ideas which I know I will not implement.
Laura
I'm down with the cause but this is one big OMG.
Meredith
Loved this book. (But then I loved her blog as well.)
I don't think I'd ever be able to get to her level of "zero waste" but I think she makes a lot of great points and her writing style is engaging. I even learned some new things from the book I hadn't known before. My new favorite tip is to have just one container of "grains" in the pantry at a time and use it up, then replace it with a new grain. (As opposed to the sixteen different grains I have right now in my cabinet, many of which I comple...more
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