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Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson
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“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.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life
“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: • Amazon.com • Antiques shops • Auction houses • Churches • Consignment shops (quality items) • Craigslist.org (large items, moving boxes, free items) • Crossroads Trading Co. (trendy clothes) • Diggerslist.com (home improvement) • Dress for Success (workplace attire) • Ebay.com (small items of value) • Flea markets • Food banks (food) • Freecycle.org (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”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. —Aldo Leopold, in his book A Sand County Almanac”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“We all yearn to save time, at any cost (including the environment), so we buy into time-saving tricks that marketing campaigns promise. But who is disposability really benefiting in the end? Take a pack of disposable cups, for example: How does (1) ripping open its packaging, (2) carrying packaging and cups out to the curb with your recycling (or trash), (3) bringing that container back from the curb, (4) going to the store for more, and (5) transporting them from the store, on multiple occasions, save time compared to (1) grabbing reusable cups from the cupboard, (2) throwing them in the dishwasher, and (3) putting them away? It seems that we have been duped into thinking that multiple shopping and recycling trips required by disposability save more time than reusing a durable product.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“I prefer French canning jars, not because I am French, but because the parts are integral and therefore easy to handle and wash (my favorite brand also uses an all-natural rubber gasket).”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Pen: Today, the most reusable pen is a fountain model fitted with a piston or converter and refilled with bottled ink. The most sustainable pen is the one that already exists. Search eBay for secondhand pieces.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Each family member uses a monogrammed ring to identify and reuse his napkin between washes.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Pencil: The most durable and reusable pencil alternative is that of a refillable mechanical pencil in stainless steel, but the leads are sold in plastic cartridges. Until manufacturers sell leads in a recycled cardboard box, newspaper pencils (versus wood) are the most Zero Waste alternative. Make sure to pick an eraser-free model (purchase a natural rubber eraser separately) so you can compost it when it is too small to write with.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Reusability is not only about eliminating disposables, it’s also about buying durable quality when replacements are needed. Buy secondhand professional gear, such as used chef’s tools, when possible; alternatively, visit your local restaurant-supply store to locate products designed to withstand heavy use.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Highlighters: Not only can their felted tips lose their integrity and dry out, when highlighters no longer work, they are designed for the landfill. Colored pencils can serve the same purpose and last longer. As mentioned earlier, they also have the advantage of being erasable and their leftovers and shavings compostable.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“request recyclable material from your shippers. Reject bubble wrapping, Styrofoam, and plastic bags, and propose alternatives such as paper or cloth.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Reuse packing material. Dedicate a space for some of the boxes and envelopes that you receive and reuse them instead of using new ones. If you must buy new, choose newspaper-padded envelopes in lieu of bubble mailers. Shredded paper is also a wonderful alternative to bubble wrap.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Use paper tape (alternatively string) to fasten your parcels.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Organic material smells bad only when mixed with nonbiodegradable items, as they are in a landfill, because the latter prohibit the former from decomposing properly. Since the preliminary stages of decomposition do not smell, you do not need to purchase a bin with a carbon filter—which needs to be replaced periodically. Your money can be better spent elsewhere.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“have a small container to collect cork corks, for taking to my grocery store, which upcycles them.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Plastics: Most curbside recycling pickups do not accept plastic bags, plastic sleeves, or Tyvek envelopes. Proactively requesting your senders not to mail any is the best way to avoid them. However, when your request is ignored, you can set the materials aside for reuse or check the list of items accepted in plastic bag collection bins such as those offered at grocery stores, as many accept more than grocery bags. Alternatively, you can send Tyvek envelopes for recycling (see “Resources”). Such parcel stuffers as bubble wrap (no tape attached), packing peanuts, or Styrofoam (entire pads only) are accepted at participating UPS stores for reuse. Alternatively, you can call the Plastic Loose Fill Council’s Peanut Hotline (1-800-828-2214) for the names of local businesses that also accept them for reuse.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“We keep two shopping lists: one for groceries, one for errands. Both lists are conveniently located adjacent to our pantry and are made of strips of used paper (typically homework printed on a single side). I’ve clipped them together and attached a pencil. We fill the sheets from bottom up, so we can tear off the bottom and bring it to the store. Cell phones are good paperless alternatives but not as suitable for the participation of the whole family or on-a-whim jotting.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Electronics: Spend money on upgrading your system instead of buying a new one. Donate computers, printers, or monitors (any brand) to a nonprofit or participating Goodwill location for refurbishing (some charities repair them and give them to schools and nonprofit organizations). For unrepairable cell phones and miscellaneous electronics, locate a nearby e-waste recycling facility or participate in a local e-waste recycling drive, or make a profit by selling them on eBay for parts. Best Buy collects remote controllers, wires, cords, cables, ink and toner cartridges, rechargeable batteries, plastic bags, gift cards, CDs and DVDs (including their cases), depending on store locations.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“The grocery list is dedicated to items available at the grocery store that I visit on a weekly basis and that I have carefully chosen based on its bulk selection, location, and on-premise bakery. When we want to get something from another store, we write it on the errands list. By the time I leave for my weekly shopping, I have typically found alternatives, or simply eliminated the need to buy many items on the list. I also use the errands list to jot down such things as donation drop-offs or “specialty bulk” items.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“commonsensemedia.org”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Where we spend the fruit of our hard labor should more than meet our basic need of filling a pantry shelf; it should also reflect our values. Because ultimately, giving someone your business implicitly articulates this message: “Your store satisfies all my needs and I want you to flourish.” We can vote with our pocketbooks by avoiding wasteful packaging and privileging local and organic products.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“There is such a thing as being too connected. Overusing digital devices is not only environmentally draining (requiring the latest electronics and massive server farms running nonstop to keep trivial pieces of information available), it can also be detrimental on a human level. It distracts us from living in the moment, from enjoying real life; it discourages person-to-person contact and face-to-face connections; it can expose our every move and steal our privacy. Notably, nonstop entertainment robs us of alone time, crucial for independent thinking, appreciation, and gratitude—and maybe even happiness.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“When we took steps to simplify our lifestyle, we not only evaluated belongings and screen times, we also evaluated friendships. We identified and focused on those that brought positivity, happiness, and strength to our life and allowed the others to fade away. This streamlining exercise made us appreciate the quality of the true friends we had. What was the point of spending precious time tending digital acquaintances to the detriment of our real-world ones? I realized that life was too short to fret about unsatisfying, meaningless online relationships. Reinforcing the bonds that we cherish and living in the moment with the people we love have since become family priorities. I no longer feel pressured to belong to social networks; those that I really care about know how to get in touch with me.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Do you remember the last vacation where you deliberately restricted your use of electronics or were forced to do so for lack of Internet access? You came back rested, marveled at how easy it was to disconnect. You can retain that vacation feel year-round by restraining your electronics use!”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Activity pouch on airplanes Buttons and pins Crayons and coloring place mats from restaurants Disposable sample cup from the grocery store Erasers and pencils with eraser tops Fireman hat from a visit to the fire station Goodie bags from county fairs and festivals Hair comb from picture day at school Infant goods from the maternity ward Junior ranger badge from the ranger station and Smokey the Bear Kids’ meal toys Lollipops and candy from various locations, such as the bank Medals and trophies for simply participating in (versus winning) a sporting activity Noisemakers to celebrate New Year’s Eve OTC samples from the doctor’s office Party favors and balloons from birthday parties Queen’s Jubilee freebies (for overseas travelers) Reusable plastic “souvenir” cup and straw from a diner Stickers from the doctor’s office Toothbrushes and floss from the dentist’s office United States flags on national holidays Viewing glasses for a 3-D movie (why not keep one pair and reuse them instead?) Water bottles at sporting events XYZ, etc.: The big foam hand at a football or baseball game or Band-Aids after a vaccination or various newspapers, prospectuses, and booklets from school, museums, national parks . . .”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Give out your contact information only when absolutely necessary. Product warranty cards, for example, are not required but are used to collect data about your consumption habits and target direct mail. When you must provide personal information, write or say: “Do not rent, sell, share, or trade my name or address.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“But the experiment made me ask questions and learn a lot about the process. When we broke a couple of drinking glasses, I had to figure out how best to dispose of them: landfill or recycling? My searches on the Internet did not unanimously answer my questions and leaned toward sending them to the landfill, but I wanted to know for sure. It took visiting two different recycling centers, contacting twenty-one people, and shipping pieces of broken glassware to my glass recycler (tracking him down was not easy) to find out that my drinking glasses were recyclable after all (crystal ones are not, because they melt at a different temperature than most glass). I am not suggesting that you too put your glass in the bin (please first check with your local jurisdiction), but that you realize how complicated the system is, and reflect on the fact that for recycling to be successful, finding answers should be easy.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“Become a junk mail detective. • Commercial catalogs: Go to CatalogChoice.org (they cancel catalogs for you) or call the catalogs directly. I opted out and I have never been happier with my personal sense of decorating and celebrating. • First-class mail: Do not open the unwanted letter. Its postage includes return service; you can write “Refused—Return to sender” and “Take me off your mailing list” on the front of the unopened envelope. I keep a pen in my mailbox for that specific purpose. • Mail addressed to the previous resident: Fill out a U.S. Postal Service change-of-address card for each previous resident. In lieu of a new address, write: “Moved, no forwarding address.” In the signature area, sign your name and write “Form filled by current resident of home [your name], agent for the above.” Hand the form to your carrier or postal clerk. • For standard/ third-class presorted mail: Do not open those that mention “return service requested,” “forwarding service requested,” “change service requested,” or “address service requested.” These postages also include return service, so here, too, you can write “Refused—Return to sender” and “Take me off your mailing list” on the front of an unopened envelope. Otherwise, open the letter, look for contact info, then call/ email/ write to be taken off the mailing list. These items typically include promotional flyers, brochures, and coupon packs. Make sure to also request that your name or address not be sold, rented, shared, or traded. • Bulk mail: Inexpensive bulk mailing, used for items such as community education catalogs, allows advertisers to mail to all homes in a carrier route. It is not directly addressed to a specific name or address but to “local” or “postal customer,” and is therefore most difficult to stop. A postal supervisor told me that my carrier had to deliver them and that he could take them back when refused, but since the postage does not include return service, the mailman would simply throw the mail away with no further action. The best way to reduce the production of such mailings is to contact the senders directly and convince them to either choose a different type of postage or adopt Internet communication instead. In the case of community-born mailing, one could also persuade his/ her city council to boycott the postage preference. But ideally, the U.S. Postal Service would not even provide this wasteful option.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“And when your best efforts fail at stopping a specific mailing, you can resort to the U.S. Postal Service’s PS Form 1500: It declares that “Under the Pandering Advertisements Statute, 39 USC 3008, if you are the addressee of an advertisement, and consider the matter (product or service) that it offers for sale to be ‘erotically arousing or sexually provocative,’ you can obtain a Prohibitory Order against the mailer.” Don’t let big words intimidate or stop you; your opinion of “sexually oriented” material is at your sole discretion and will not be questioned. Today this USPS form may be our last recourse against the peskiest junk mail.”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste
“To pack a healthy lunch, my children follow simple packing guidelines. They combine, and not duplicate, ingredients from each of the following categories. All are available in either loose or unpackaged form, and when possible, we buy organic. In order of importance (i.e. amount), they pick: 1. Grain (favor whole wheat when possible): Baguette, focaccia, buns, bagels, pasta, rice, couscous 2. Vegetable: Lettuce, tomato, pickles, avocado, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, celery, snap peas 3. Protein: Deli cuts, leftover meat or fish, shrimp, eggs, tofu, nuts, nut butters, beans, peas 4. Calcium: Yogurt, cheese, dark leafy greens 5. Fruit: Preferably raw fruit or berries, homemade apple sauce, or dried fruit 6. Optional Snacks: Whole or dried fruit, yogurt, homemade popcorn or cookie, nuts, granola, or any interesting snack from the bulk aisle”
Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste

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