10 Tips for Creating a Zero Waste Home

By Erica Sofrina,  Author of Small  Changes Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World

I do my part to recycle and bring my own bags for purchases, but I am far  from producing zero waste. While lugging multiple recycling bins to the curbside  every week it has occurred me that I have a lot of recycling for only one  person. I never totally connected the dots that the goal should be to have a  system where all of the wrappers, junk mail, jars and cans don’t enter my home  to begin with!

I was recently inspired by a television show where Bea and Scott Johnson of  Mill Valley, California talked about their Zero waste lifestyle. They produce the equivalent of a quart  jar of waste per month for their entire family of four. Now that is pretty close  to zero waste and a goal I am going to aspire to!

In a recent article about them in Sunset magazine, I was inspired by their commitment  as a family to leave a lighter footprint. Their children are just as committed  to the cause, and wrap their lunches in large cloths which they roll up and  carry to school and reuse the next day. They have simplified their lives so  completely that they are able to pack up on a dime and spend extended periods of  time traveling and doing things they love. They are able to pay for the trips  because of the 40 percent less they are spending on living expenses! They also  rent their home while they are gone and use it as a teaching tool with detailed  instructions for the renters on how they can create a zero waste lifestyle.

I yearned for the freedom from encumbrances that they have achieved, and the  good feeling that comes from knowing my lifestyle is completely in alignment  with my ethics about sustainability for the planet. I am inspired by their  example to do more!

In Bea’s recent article in Yes magazine, she outlines 10 tips to help the  average person get on board and move closer towards zero waste. Here are some of  her great suggestions:

  • Refuse what you do not need.
  • Reduce what you do need.
  • Reuse by using reusables.
  • Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or  reuse.
  • Rot (compost) the rest.


1. Fight junk mail. It’s not just a waste of resources, but also of time.  Register to receive less at dmachoice.org, optoutprescreen.com and catalogchoice.org.

2. Turn down freebies from conferences, fairs, and parties. Every time  you take one, you create a demand to make more. Do you really need another  “free” pen?


3. Declutter your home, and donate to your local thrift shop. You’ll  lighten your load and make precious resources available to those looking to buy  secondhand.

4. Reduce your shopping trips and keep a shopping list. The less you  bring home, the less waste you’ll have to deal with.


5. Swap disposables for reusable (start using handkerchiefs, refillable  bottles, shopping totes, cloth napkins, rags, etc.). You might find that you  don’t miss your paper towels, but rather enjoy the savings. [Noted!]

6. Avoid grocery shopping waste: Bring reusable totes, cloth bags (for  bulk aisles), and jars (for wet items like cheese and deli foods) to the store  and farmers market. [I always keep reusable totes in my car.]


7. Know your city’s recycling policies and locations—but think of  recycling as a last resort. Have you refused, reduced, or reused first? Question  the need and life-cycle of your purchases. Shopping is voting.

8. Buy primarily in bulk or secondhand, but if you must buy new, choose  glass, metal, or cardboard. Avoid plastic: Much of it gets shipped across the  world for recycling and often ends up in the landfill (or worse yet, the  ocean).


9. Find a compost system that works for your home and get to know what  it will digest (dryer lint, hair, and nails are all compostable).

10. Turn your home kitchen trash can into one large compost receptacle.  The bigger the compost the more people will use it. [I will add that you  want to have a bin that has a lid and is an attractive receptacle.]

I hope you will join me in working toward these zero waste goals in your own  household. I am going to start today with stopping the junk mail, which has been  a goal of mine for ages and I am ashamed that I haven’t gotten around to  it….Done!