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How to Create a Zero-Waste Home

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LearnVest
05.23.13

This post originally appeared on LearnVest, where smart people learn to manage their money and live their richest lives.

Five years ago Bea Johnson and her husband and two sons were looking for a home closer to the restaurants, shops and school in their coastal California town. 

During the year they spent house hunting, the family of four moved into a small apartment, took only the possessions that were absolutely necessary and left the rest in storage.

“After living with just the necessities, we realized that we had much more time to spend with our family when we weren’t spending it caring for a large house and lots of belongings,” says Johnson.

Then, when they did decide on a house, they chose one half the size of their previous home and simplified by selling most of their old stuff.

Around that time, Johnson and her husband began investigating environmental issues. “We read books, watched documentaries, and what we learned worried us and made us sad for our kids’ futures,” she says. “So we decided to do something about it. My husband quit his job to start a sustainability consulting company, and I tackled greening our house.”

It was then that Johnson devised a system to reduce the family’s garbage—she calls it the Zero Waste Home. She started by swapping everything disposable in their home (paper towels, water bottles, grocery bags) for reusables.

Today, she says, her family’s yearly waste can fit in a quart-size jar.

She spoke with LearnVest about how to get started, her zero-waste strategies and the one sustainable habit she’s just not down with.

Check out the full interview with Bea Johnson at LearnVest.

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