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The zero-waste family

Posted on 17 March 2014.

Bea Johnson, a mother whose motto is “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot,” teaches us that reducing waste can save time and money.

Bea Johnson is not just any mother. Well-versed as she was in the American way of life, this Frenchwoman living in the United States decided to change her habits to drastically reduce waste. The annual waste now produced by the Johnsons, a family of four, now fits into a one-liter container.

The Johnsons embarked on their adventure in 2008. Bea started a blog where she shares her experiences and advice, has published several books and gives lectures. She never fails to remind readers of her motto: “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot.” It is essential to do so in that order: 1) Refuse what we don’t need 2) Reduce what we do need 3) Reuse what we consume 4) Recycle what but can’t reuse 5) Rot (compost) the rest.

At the heart of the “zero waste” philosophy is not recycling but decluttering. If you don’t consume it, you don’t have to throw it away. Bea Johnson forms part of the minimalist movement that advocates a less-is-more approach in our society of over-consumption.
Bea Johnson presents her “zero waste” lifestyle
So how does this work on an everyday basis? When Bea does her grocery shopping, for example, she takes her own containers – glass jars or cotton bags – with her for the food she buys in the grocery store aisles and at the fish and meat counters, etc. It’s not surprising to learn that her drawers are filled with jars! She makes most of her own cosmetics, including using powdered chocolate for blush.

Bea is clear that her efforts have helped cut her spending and reduced time spent on things that are not important – an accomplishment she describes with pride in her book.

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