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

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  4,371 ratings  ·  647 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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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,371 ratings  ·  647 reviews

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Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I started following Bea Johnson's blog 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
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
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.
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?
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.
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,,, 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
Sep 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone trying to live a little bit more sustainably
Shelves: non-fiction
((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
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
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. 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
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
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
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
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.
Dar vieną puslapį
Aš niekada nebuvau išprotėjus dėl ekologijos, rūšiavimo ir panašių dalykų. Tuo nesididžiuoju, bet ir vaidinti kažko neketinu. Viskas pasikeitė, kai gimė vaikas. Tuomet tapo svarbu daug dalykų ir kokį pasaulį paliksiu po savęs - vienas jų. Knyga “Namai be atliekų” į mano akiratį pateko jau senokai, bet eilė pribrendo tik dabar. Na ir ką aš galiu pasakyti- leidykla Dvi tylos, kuri ir išleido knygą, labai taikliai apibūdino savo leidžiamas knygas - jos skirtos žengiantiems su pasauliu ir ieškantiem ...more
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
Marina Ponomaryova
Ця книга вразила мене абсолютною відданістю авторки справі. Звісно, коли вирішуєш взяти активну участь у боротьбі проти сміттєутворення, необхідно братися за це з усіх сторін. Книга містить вступну частину про перехід до zero waste авторки (власний досвід), а потім розподіляється на розділи про те як зменшити своє сміттєутворення та повторно використати/переробити речі у різних частинах дому: кухня, ванна, офіс, спальня, а також про життя за межами дому, що робити на свята і так далі. Тут ви зна ...more
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
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
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
C'est typiquement le genre de livre qu'il ne faut pas emprunter à la bibliothèque comme je l'ai fait mais qu'il faut plutôt avoir sur ses étagères personnelles pour pouvoir le consulter à tout moment. Ce livre est rempli de trucs et astuces qui apprennent à réduire ses déchets au quotidien. Tout y passe : cuisine, salle de bain, maquillage... Un livre fort utile en ces temps de prise de conscience environnementale.
Cinco estrelas para um livro inspirador.

Pode parecer radical.
As suas sugestões podem parecer idealistas ou irrealistas.

No entanto, a premissa base, que leva ao Desperdício Zero, é a simplificação da nossa vida. Na base está a ideia que muito aprecio: consumir menos, trabalhar menos, viver mais!

No fundo, quanto menos precisarmos/desejarmos, menos consumimos, menos dinheiro e TEMPO gastamos.

Recusar, Reduzir, Reutilizar, Reciclar e Compostar para sermos mais livres e mais felizes. Para Ser em vez
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.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meus-emprestados
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
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: _ecologie
Beaucoup de bonnes idées et une vision des choses qui amène à se poser pas mal de question sur la société actuelle et notre mode de consommation...

Le ton n'est pas trop moralisateur (même si c'est à la limite sur certains passages) et on ressent vraiment l'enthousiasme de l'auteur par rapport à ce mode de vie. Elle reconnaît également les limites et le caractère un peu extrême de certaines idées qu'elle a pu avoir.

Par contre, le point négatif est que, même si l'auteur nous dit le contraire, le m
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
Lai gan dažas ir foršas un vērā ņemamas metodes, ko ieviest savā ikdienā, tomēr lielākoties man ir ļoti liels skepticisms pret iespējām ieviest šeit aprakstīto pašreizējā situācijā. apsveru iespēju palasīt blogus/pieredzes no Latvijā dzīvojošiem cilvēkiem
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
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
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
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!
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.
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
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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
“refuse what you do not need; reduce what you do need; reuse what you consume; recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse; and rot (compost) the rest.” 7 likes
“OPTIONS FOR REDUCING While thrift stores such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army can be a convenient way to initially let go, many other outlets exist and are often more appropriate for usable items. Here are some examples: • • Antiques shops • Auction houses • Churches • Consignment shops (quality items) • (large items, moving boxes, free items) • Crossroads Trading Co. (trendy clothes) • (home improvement) • Dress for Success (workplace attire) • (small items of value) • Flea markets • Food banks (food) • (free items) • Friends • Garage and yard sales • Habitat for Humanity (building materials, furniture, and/or appliances) • Homeless and women’s shelters • Laundromats (magazines and laundry supplies) • Library (books, CDs and DVDs) • Local SPCA (towels and sheets) • Nurseries and preschools (blankets, toys) • Operation Christmas Child (new items in a shoe box) • Optometrists (eyeglasses) • Regifting • Rummage sales for a cause • Salvage yards (building materials) • Schools (art supplies, magazines, dishes to eliminate class party disposables) • Tool co-ops (tools) • Waiting rooms (magazines) • Your curb with a “Free” sign” 1 likes
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