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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

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  6,220 ratings  ·  894 reviews
Part inspirational story of Bea Johnson (the “Priestess of Waste-Free Living”) and how she transformed her family’s life for the better by reducing their waste to an astonishing one liter per year; part practical, step-by-step guide that gives readers tools and tips to diminish their footprint and simplify their lives.Many of us have the gnawing feeling that we could and s ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Scribner (first published April 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  6,220 ratings  ·  894 reviews


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Katie
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Elizabeth
Oct 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Joanna
Sep 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pretentious, snobbish and awfully written. And snobbish, did I mention snobbish? "We wanted a dog that would be small enough to not only fit in our small house but also accompany us everywhere we go (..) — we also chose his coat color to match the floor so that his shedding hair would not show." Seriously?? Is that how she picked her husband? Just the right shade of Caucasian to match her neutral-colored wardrobe, and bold, so there's less hair to compost?
Carolina
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm a hardcore hippie, but the sanctimonious and highly elitist tone of this book made me want to shred it into bedding for my chicken coop. So many of the methods for reducing waste were convoluted to the point of ridiculousness (makeup chapter, I'm looking at you) that it wouldn't surprise me if this book actually turned people AWAY from striving for ecologically sustainable living.
Debbie
May 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Jenn
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, non-fiction
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
Ondřej Mička
Sep 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
What did I learned from this book? If you live your American Dream(TM) in a giant house, making crap loads of money while having almost unlimited free time, then you can significantly reduce your waste output and as by byproduct reduce your expenses and gain some free time. Otherwise... Perhaps it's because I don't live in USA and my budget is tight, but the small-but-high-impact changes (like not using disposable dishes) have been always part of my life, so the other changes (like make everythi ...more
Amy
Nov 05, 2013 marked it as abandoned
I feel as though I must first earn some street cred before I go any further:
*I cloth diaper
*I use vinegar when I clean
*I only use cloth napkins
*I haven't purchased paper towels in years
*I shop at thrift stores

I am the target audience for this book. However when the author suggested saving energy by not preheating your oven I almost put the book back into my library bag unfinished. I didn't though because even though as a home cook I found that to be a silly way of saving 4 cents I figured the bo
...more
Stephie
Jun 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It takes a lot of money to produce no waste. The most useful thing I took from this was to use colouring pencils instead of highlighters. I have no clue how the author thinks poor people live. Whatever floats your boat I guess, but most normal and most cash strapped people could not afford to live like this regardless of how much money she thinks you save.
Panda Incognito
Earlier this summer, some friends and I talked about cults. One friend told another, "You'd be in the zero-waste cult," and we all thought this was hilarious. Now that I've read this book, I no longer find it facetious to conflate zero-waste living with cult membership.

In fact, according to Goodreads, Bea Johnson is the "Priestess of Waste-Free Living." I don't think this is an exaggeration. It requires a level of religious devotion to take the zero-waste lifestyle as far as this lady does, and
...more
Stacia
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 in your
...more
Nicole
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone trying to live a little bit more sustainably
((Addendum 26/09/2016: It's probably worth mentioning that this book functions best as a general guide and starting point for people who really have no idea where to *start* with reducing waste and minimising in their lives or as a refresher and recipe guide for DIY products. Investigation is required to check whether some of this stuff should be tried…(i.e. Ask your dentist if it's OK to use DIY toothpaste and, IF so, how to go about it and what ingredients are advised. etc… I've noticed that m ...more
Julie
Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
KDV
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I like reading books like this and usually find them motivating even if not all of the advice applies to me. There are some good ideas in this one. But, yes, like other reviewers have pointed out, the author is kind of insufferable. Most of her personal stories are thinly-veiled humblebrags. Like the time she got a short hair cut to reduce her shampoo use, but it did nothing for her face and a magazine camera crew came to photograph her and her family! Oh no! (Is this story supposed to convey hu ...more
Erin
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book walks the line between useful advice and things that are incorrect or completely ridiculous. The author seems to think that previous civilizations didn't have waste (not true, what do you think archeologists find?) and also notes items that she believes can be composted which cannot if you are intending to actually use the compost in your edible garden. She also notes using a glass container in the shower for shampoo which seems to me to be a rather significant safety hazard.

My bigges
...more
Aubrey
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This past half a year or so we've been living full-time on the road in a house on wheels. We've seen such beautiful places with landscapes varying from mountainous depths filled with elk and reindeer, the unique colors of the desert to a flatter place here in Florida covered in lakes and a wide array of birds. I love nature. I love this planet and I want to keep it beautiful.

Unfortunately, we are trashing it without acknowledgment for our waste and actions. Granted, the planet will always be he
...more
Jurga
Jan 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
How to save water? To pee to your compost or water with it your citrus plants. What should I use instead of toilet paper? Your hand and some water. And how to choose your dog? - "We also chose his coat color to match the floor so that his shedding hair would not show." Seriously?
Evin Ashley
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Ok ok. I feel kind of cruel for rating this a book a two, as it's chock-full of tips to pare down on wasteful habits. But, I couldn't take it seriously: Although Bea's successful adoption of a Zero-Waste lifestyle is absolutely impressive, who the h*ll would want to live this way?

"Scott could no longer stand the 'smell of vinaigrette' in our bed." (p. 6)
Re: bathroom beauty products -- "Our insecurities clutter our lives." (p. 82)
"Dry Shampoo: I substitute cornstarch sold in bulk for dry shampoo.
...more
Andi A.
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A lot of commenters that gave this book low review said that this book came across as pretentious and snobby to them, but I thought Johnson was very reasonable with how she presented this fountain of information that she has collected after years of experimenting and living this alternative lifestyle. She understandably states that this lifestyle is most likely a gradual incorporation and people can do what is possible in their own time and depending on their means and their communities offering ...more
Linda
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!
Kristen
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
I would have thought that this book and I would get along really well. Over the last year I dove deep into the Zero Waste lifestyle and then had to let up a little to be realistic about my time and efforts. I think this book does offer some good ideas, but I really related with the more basic stuff that can be found almost anywhere now. The really detailed nitpicky things just did not speak to me as being realistic, and because they comprised the majority of the book I got really bored and frust ...more
Gina
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-editorial
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
Natalija Straiziene
Dec 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Erm... i don’t usually write reviews, but have to justify one star here. Im fully supporting the anti consumerist and sustainability culture, but this one is a prime example of an eco-radicalist. Maximising the amount of right turns when driving and sending emails with smaller files to save the energy - im sorry, but its losing the sight of forrest for the trees. One star for the efforts, zero for common sense. Im not gonna make my own paper out of my kids drawings or burn an almond for an eyeli ...more
Tatiana Kim
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eco
This is my first book related to zero wasting. Before i read lots of articles and followed more than 20 accounts to know more about the topic.
Book is great, and at the same time i know that i wouldn't do and even try many things, that Bea did:) but i am on the right side, slowly i reduce, reuse and recycle. I do my best to explain others how to do it and inspire my friends to make first steps.
It's difficult to realize how huge can be affect of one family. Even one person. Just imagine one mornin
...more
Faith
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: environment
I picked up this book because I've been reading a lot about zero waste lately and this seems to be widely considered the first big resource on the subject. I have to say I appreciate it as ground breaking, but it doesn't have much to offer that's not already known to anyone who already knows a few things about the zero waste movement. If you're already on that road, it's not likely worth it.

If you're brand new to zero waste, it might offer something more, but even then I would advise caution. Ma
...more
Wendy Wagner
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: home-life
There are lots of great tips in here on how to eliminate garbage from your life, although sorting them out of the insanity of the writer's persona is hard work. At a certain point (probably the makeup section), her absolute awfulness becomes so over the top it turns into a comedy. I might read this book again to use as a drinking game!

But well worth reading for the final chapter, which presents an inspiring and nearly magical vision of a society that's serious about living ecologically.
Loesje
Jun 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
Even one star sounds too much.
Linda
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, nonfiction, libby
I was inspired to do some small things to reduce waste. I'm going to focus on the most impactful of the mandates: Refuse. Try to bring fewer wasteful things into my home. Request less packaging. Try to get off junk mail lists. And think hard about new purchases.

I'm trying not to be unfairly judgy here, as the author indicates several times that you should do those things that fit best into *your* lifestyle. Commit wholeheartedly, or make small changes. Every little thing helps.

And still, I was p
...more
alexa
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are plenty of criticisms of this lifestyle (time, for California elites only) but the fact is that we all need and should reduce our plastic consumption. I was inspired by Bea’s effort to compost, use less & buy in bulk. I recommend to anyone who wants to simplify as it was thought provoking. Ps I love my co-op ...more
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Bea Johnson has been shattering preconceptions attached to a lifestyle of environmental consciousness through her Zero Waste lifestyle. She regularly opens her home to educational tours and the media, and she has appeared in segments on the Today show, NBC and CBS news, Global TV BC (Canada), and a mini Yahoo! documentary. Bea and her family have also been featured in print publications, including ...more

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