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Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

2013, Scribner

France: Zéro Déchet, 2013, Editions des Arènes

Bea Johnson is a French woman living in the USA. She and her family have had a Zero Waste Home since 2008. They produce almost no waste by following these five rules: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (a handy

r-word for Compost).

Refuse what you don't need (extra packaging, receipts). Reduce what you need (do you really need to buy a new toaster, maybe there's a used one online). Reuse (grocery bags, water thermos, cloth handkerchiefs, rechargeable batteries). Recycle (this is 4th on the list because recycling costs money and it's better to refuse, reduce and reuse when you can). Rot (you can reduce your household waste by around 30-40% by composting).

My daughter Julia introduced me to this idea, and she herself tries to follow the zero waste lifestyle as much as possible. She has no garbage can in her apartment! For Christmas she made me some body lotion out of beeswax and coconut oil so I don't have to buy it in plastic containers. And it works really well!

My step-daughter Diane has encouraged our family to be aware of how the way we live affects the environment. So we try to buy food that can be put into reusable containers, make our own yogurt, make our own meals instead of buying prepared meals and compost. Most of these things have been relatively easy to get used to, but it's easier to do if you live alone than in a family (unless you start the habits from the beginning). This is partly because everyone has different priorities about how to go about reducing waste, and different degrees of commitment. For example, it takes time to get used to telling the salesperson at the market "no bag" when you buy vegetables. We tend to remember after they've already put it in the bag and then feel embarrassed to ask them to take it out! But we've started first handing them a bunch of bags to reuse, before even ordering. My husband buys delicious bread from a bakery in Paris, but he keeps bringing it home in new little bags each time. Should I boycott the bread until he refuses the bag? So far I haven't been able to!

The book has all kinds of explanations and ideas about how the Zero Waste lifestyle not only makes less waste, but saves money and time, which can be used for other activities. And even if you don't want to follow the 5 rules to the letter, you can follow some of them, and still be better off than if you did nothing.

For way more information, read the book or check out:

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