Since adopting the Zero Waste lifestyle, my life and that of my family has completely changed, for the better. We not only feel happier, we lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff.
Today, my goal is to shatter pre-conceptions associated with the Zero Waste lifestyle and share what we have discovered about its incredible health, financial and time saving benefits. 

On the Today Show this morning!


69 comments:

  1. Anonymous4/18/2011

    I recently saw a video of your zero waste home and found your blog to get even more no waste ideas. Glass jars at the deli counter? Brilliant! I have incorportated so many of these ideas and can't thank you enough for all the research you've already done, making it easier for some of us to make these wonderful changes.

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  2. Hi Bea, After watching a video about you over at The Non Consumer Advocate I have been inspired to try to reduce my family's waste.

    I'm concentrating on reducing the amount of plastic packaging that we use but I freeze all my homemade bread in plastic bags. I notice from the video that you put bread in cloth bags to freeze. How well does this work?

    I envy you being able to buy so much in bulk, we have nothing like that here in the UK. I have started taking my own containers to the butcher and deli though.

    Thankyou for the inspiration.

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  3. My husband & I have been discussing the enormous amount of "stuff" we have. I have been searching for a way to get rid of items, packaging, etc., that you can't donate. Thank you for doing a blog! You have some really great ideas that I can definitely utilize in our household.

    It makes sense to me to live a healthier more relaxed life with less. The more you know, the less you need.

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  4. Great video!
    I have been noticing lately how much garbage we have. It is crazy! I would LOVE to be able to have a zero-waste lifestyle. If you came out with a how-to E-book, I would definitely get it.

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  5. Bea, You are an inspiration to us all! Thank you!

    p.s. Starting on Earth Day our family is starting our six month trash tally!

    xo,
    Robin

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  6. I watched your family on The Today show this morning, and have to say, you are a huge inspiration to me. This has been the topic of conversation with my husband and I for a while now; How to use less, and throw away less. We are starting to compost, and with definitely be adding some of your great ideas to our lifestyle. We already use re-usable shopping bags, but never thought of the jars, and mesh bags for produce, and cheese.
    Thank you!!

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  7. Anonymous4/18/2011

    As a mass consumer looking for ways to reduce/recylce/renew, you have provided a fresh insight on how this can be done, in a managable and inspiring manner.
    I was saddened by the amount of angry responses you recieved on your Today Show blog. However, with great change comes great resistance, at first.
    Unfortunately, consumerism appears to be stronger than I expected in this country, especially after the economic downturn that should have provided an enlightenment to our greed and entitlement mentality.
    I personally can not understand their arguments... don't we want to work WITH the planet, to maintain our planet? If everyone realized that the earth is as much our home, as the 1500 square foot building we call our home is, maybe we wouldn't be hearing these rediculously self-absorbed statements.

    Thank you for this blog...
    I can't wait to hear more ideas and tools on how to leave a lighter footprint on Mother Earth.

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  8. Bea, I am so delighted that you and your family were on tv! Spread the word about zero waste! Fantastic! I have been moving towards buying without packaging. I have bought rice and oats in bulk recently. And I did find out that plastic wrappers, ziplock bags, and saran wrap can be placed in the recycle bin where I live in SoCal! This is a huge recent change in terms of recycling. I know it's not a zero waste solution...but I'm working on it! Thanks for the inspiration! Congrads on your Today Show appearance!

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  9. Anonymous4/18/2011

    This is great Bea. The Today Show! You have become a zero-waste pioneer and I thank you for showing us an example of what we can all live up to. I have been getting positve comments now at the grocery store when I bring along my glass jars for meat etc. and I hope that it is giving other people ideas when they see me with these re-usable containers. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us all. You have created a movement towards less waste that I hope will catch on. ~Josephine

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  10. Congrats on your Today Show appearance! Thanks for motivating my family to make additional steps towards no waste. In addition to using cloth diapers, this past year we've stopped buying paper napkins and plastic drinking straws (swapped to cloth napkins and stainless steel straws). I bought some glass jars in December and love them for food storage. Thanks again and please, keep sharing!

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  11. Anonymous4/18/2011

    Your family is an inspiration. Very nice piece.

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  12. Sandra4/18/2011

    Congrats, Johnson family! Great to see zero waste getting attention on national TV. Will an appearance on Oprah be next? I've got my fingers crossed:)

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  13. Anonymous4/18/2011

    You and your family are awesome! I''m glad your lifestyle is getting so much attention. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

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  14. Jennifer4/18/2011

    Hi Bea! We've been following your blog for several months and are so excited to see the changes we've implemented are paying off! I was wondering about bread storage. We've been buying a small loaf daily from a local bakery, since it's right on my husbands way to/from work every day. How do you reccomend storing a larger protion of bread for 2-3 days without it becoming stale. Also, have you experienced any freezer burn or hardening of your bread being stored in a pillowcase in the freezer? I tried freezing it in a cotton bag a few weeks ago and it was so hard upon thawing. Any tips would be helpful! Thanks so much!

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  15. Ah! I am so proud of you, Bea! and, inspired. My kids and I are having so much fun at home discovering our way to zero waste, too. I am especially happy to be cooking from scratch again, it is a true pleasure and a lost art. Thank you for setting the example, taking the time to blog, and proving it an easily acheivable reality!

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  16. I am SO happy and proud of you for making it on The Today Show with your brillant lifestyle : ) Keep up the good work, Bea!!!

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  17. Great video. You and your family continue to be a source of inspiration for me and mine.

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  18. Hi Bea,

    Very inspirational, I know I can learn from you. So happy to have found your blog.

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  19. Maggie4/18/2011

    so stoked you got onto mainstream media! you and your family have set a wonderful example for others to look to and learn from. i hope so many more people now realize just how possible it is to significantly reduce our waste footprint. thank you!

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  20. incredibly inspiring! wow! thanks so much! xo

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  21. Just ordered my first Le Parfait jars and I'm so excited to start using them! I also found a local market that sells a ton of organic food in bulk, and it's all inspired by your blog! Keep doing what you're doing and we'll all catch on eventually:-)

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  22. Yay! I love seeing your life and your home. Always inspiring. // Question: I'm wondering what you use to store/cover the bread in the freezer?

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  23. Hi Bea, I too wan tot know how you freeze bread in a cloth bag without freezer burn. We buy ours package-free (or bake our own) as well, but we do it twice a week to avoid the freezer. Just a friendly heads up that I included you on my post of great zero waste families. People often say we couldn't do what we do if we had kids. Thanks for proving them wrong.

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  24. Excellent report on NBC about your fine efforts toward eliminating waste in your home. Thanks for trying so hard.
    Love,
    The Earth

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  25. Hi Bea and Family! My husband pointed out your appearance on the Today show this morning. He said, "Hey look, these guys don't have anything to throw away." When I saw it was you I practically yelled "That's Bea!" He knows you by name since you're the zero waste guru in our home and I refer to your ideas daily.

    My favorite tip so far has been getting rid of paper towels. I can't believe how heavily I relied on them before. Now our kids each have their own microfiber towels to use.

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  26. Love the blog!!! I started reading it after seeing the Yahoo video, and you have been such an inspiration!!! Wish me luck as I begin day 2 of cloth diapering! Thanks again!!

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  27. Anonymous4/18/2011

    YEAH! More attention for zero waste. Your family is doing so well. This is so the way of the future.

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  28. I loved the video! I think your ideas are great. We're in the middle of moving to a new home, with a much larger kitchen that has a pantry where (finally!) I'll have room to store things. I plan to use your example of the glass jars at the deli (brilliant!) and to stock up on bulk goods instead of buying so many packaged items.

    I agree with Nia - your way is the way of the future! I understand how it seems extreme to some, but what does it seem like when compared to the amount of plastic and junk we buy for our kids and ourselves, as a country, year after year? In ten years you'll be considered a visionary and people will wonder why they didn't know about this sooner.

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  29. Loved it! The article, of course, was inspiring, but I loved seeing different shots of your home and hearing your husband talk about how it takes less of your time now and saves you money (frankly something I've worried about with the switch to Whole Foods, Farmers Markets, etc.). Great follow-up, in my opinion to the lovely article. Bravo!

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  30. Anonymous4/19/2011

    You and your family are amazing! Thank you again for your blog and inspiration. I've been practicing zero waste for 5 weeks, and life is so much better.

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  31. Anonymous4/19/2011

    Bea, I LOVE you & your family! I have been so excited since finding your blog & articles, It has given a good swift kick in the butt to start implementing a number of your ideas! We have NO bulk stores in my area & with gas hitting $4.00 I am unable to travel a far distance for shopping - I would love any tips you would have for families like mine who can't bulk/re-fill shop. I wish more of the major retail stores like Target would get a bulk/re-fill section!
    My family & I Thank You for all that you do to bring attention to reduce the Earths waste!
    God Bless!
    Donna Davis

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  32. To Donna,
    At Super Target, you can still buy bulk produce in cloth bags, meat, deli, and cheese bulk at the counter. You might be able to get bread from the bakery with no wrapper if you request it ahead of time.I have also started buying eggs from Target for the simple reason that they come in recycled cardboard cartons instead of styrofoam or plastic.

    I have thought a great deal about the suggestions on this lovely blog. It is easy to think of all the things we cannot do easily, but instead we should focus on the things that we can do, but aren't.

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  33. YOUR FAMILY ROCKS!!!! You are an absolute inspiration! I was always into the "green" movement, but I was not going far enough. We have been doing the less waste thing for a couple of weeks now, and it's been very eye opening. I shop completely different now, and will continue to do so.
    Kelly

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  34. I've been following your blog ever since the article on your family showed up on Yahoo.com earlier this year, and you've definitely opened my eyes to the things that most of the world as well as myself are doing to the planet. I hope to be able to start living zero-waste someday, just taking it one thing at a time. Thank you so much for showing us all how a zero-waste life can be!

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  35. You're an inspiration! I love how you say, "Are my kids deprived because they don't get junk food, I feel its the opposite." You and I have a few things in common, we're doing what we know is right and its so simple and so freeing, but others see us as "extreme." My family eats raw vegan food and we homebirth and do not circumcise or vaccinate. We homeschool our children, not traditionally, but we allow them the freedom to self educate and to be creative. People often say we are depriving ourselves of junk food, and the freedom of sending our kids away to school all day. They also fear our children will die because we practice natural immunity. Zero Waste fits so perfectly with who we are, I'm very excited to be learning about it and implementing what I'm learning. I often feel buried under so much clutter. Thank you so much for speaking out! Your home is so simple and beautiful, so celestial.

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  36. Anonymous4/19/2011

    Bea - so happy that you and your family's lifestyle was featured on the Today Show. The more people who are shown this example, the better. I've found your advice to be correct - it's better to take things one step at a time, rather than changing everything at once. Eventually, you realize what you can really live without. Thanks for sharing your journey with everyone!

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  37. I found your family very inspiring. It made me think of how we really could reduce more throughout our live. And to think My parents thought I was nuts with my compost bucket in my kitchen. I thought how relaxing your home must feel, we don't have a lot of mess/ or clutter, but a lot of just stuff; makes me anxious sometimes. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  38. that piece was very well done. so happy that now even more people will find your blog and you will be inspiring more people like me to greater mindfulness of waste. thanks for sharing!

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  39. Anonymous4/19/2011

    I saw you on the THE TODAY SHOW. Excellent. I, too, live very similar here in rural Arkansas near the hot and cold springs in a cabin. We collect rain water, do not shop (use the local churches/charities clothing closets), I do not drive by choice; and we have a garden, composting and collecting rainwater, as well as forage for wild foods here in Arkansas. we have 2 elderberry trees on our 4 acres. sunny days and dark nights!
    Dew, barefootin'
    rural Arkansas

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  40. Anonymous4/19/2011

    I am Pro-Local
    Pro-Diversity
    Pro-Small
    Pro-earthworm
    "When imagination works, everything works!"
    (Bachelard, 1884-1962)
    YOUR FAMILY IS AN EXAMPLE FOR ALL OF US.
    Dew, Barefootin'
    rural Arkansas

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  41. Hi Bea,
    I came to your blog through the article in Sunset magazine. Your family's lifestyle has inspired me to make some changes in my own home. I always thought we lived pretty "green," but when I saw what you do, I realized that we can do so much more. One thing I have done is donated all of my plastic food storage containers (and I had TONS) to Goodwill, and then purchased glass storage containers. I also use mesh bags for my produce now. I make my own wrapping paper and bows from catalogs and junk mail, and am working to remove myself from mailing lists. Reducing clutter is so gratifying. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

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  42. I'm so glad you got more exposure. "Green Guilt" is right. People shouldn't talk bad about you doing something so good for the enviorment and all its inhabitents because they are SCARED to try. Insipiration, role model, leader; all these terms are what you are! and i love that because i have chosen to follow your lead, others see me at the grocery store and start to change their ways. =)

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  43. Bea, I was so happy to see you on Todays show! Major break through! I so hope more stores will rethink their set up. I am in SoCal. I tried taking my own containers for bulk items to Henry's Farmers Market. They refused to tare them. They said I would have to pay for their weight. Then I emailed director of the store, and he replied back with very generic email saying that they allow for customers to bring their own containers. He did not say anything about them taring them. I did have luck at Mothers Market however. They did tare the containers, but a) their rice is twice as more expensive as rice from Henry's b) they attached a piece of paper with a piece of tape on each to mark their wight - a waste in a way as well. And yesterday I sent my first Netflix plastic strip back! My sister in law works for WholeFoods. She was actually asking how they could improve their customer service. I suggested taring containers and refill service. And she did suggest that as a part of their monthly management brainstorming meeting, whatever it is called. Will see what happens!

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  44. Jessica4/19/2011

    Excellent! Great way to get the message out there! Congratulations on the Today Show story :)

    Warm Wishes,
    Jessica

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  45. I think your family is truly inspirational! I jumped on the couponing bandwagon a couple of years ago and while I was saving so much money, I felt like I was wasting so much time and energy; not to mention all of the paper and packaging! I have almost stopped couponing and am trying to focus on living a simple and less wasteful lifestyle. Your website has helped so much. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  46. Fabulous. You know, people can start out changing their habits in small ways. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Just begin.

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  47. Anonymous4/19/2011

    This is SO cool! Thank you for being willing to share (Yes, there are lots of trolls out there! Ignore them!). And thank you for shaking me out of my complacency!

    Here I was feeling proud of myself for using cloth bags, buying in bulk (and re-using plastic bags when they seemed unavoidable) and composting. Now I see there is so much more I didn't even think of! And you've inspired me to avoid the plastic I had previously considered unavoidable! Zero Waste is a VERY admirable goal.

    And thanks for the suggestions in your zero-waste-bathroom post. I had never heard of those particular feminine hygiene products, and I felt bad every month when my bathroom trashcan would fill up, and wondered how people dealt with it before disposables. Yeah, there's a little bit of 'eeeewwwww' when I was reading about them, but I think I'll give it a shot (not ready to give up TP though!)

    One thing I do think is sad is people arguing that this lifestyle is more expensive. My sweetie and I decided to do the "food stamp challenge" where you don't spend any more on groceries than the amount that would be allowed by food stamps...and several (but not all) months we had money left over (and this is eating whole foods, not packaged junk!) The idea that it costs more to eat this way is a myth.

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  48. Anonymous4/19/2011

    Hi! I absolutely love your blog and am striving to live a zero waste lifestyle. I recently went to my Whole Foods and was told that I am not allowed to bring in my own jars. I spoke with a manager and they said even the paper bags that are returned to the store cannot be reused by rather recycled, due to contamination. This is so frustrating! It is the only store in our town that I can purchase bulk foods. We have always done a worm composting and even utilize a grey water system. Any tips?

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  49. Anonymous4/19/2011

    Bea you ROCK. with all my frustrations with people, ignorance, waste, i just come to your blog and totally relax. i cant say enough good things about you , you are living proof of ghandi's wisdom "be the change you wish to see you in the world". no matter what anything negative anyone ever has to say about what you are doing, know that you are truly a hero and changing the world in more ways you can imagine. thank you SO much.

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  50. Paulala4/19/2011

    Dear Bea and Family, Thank you for stepping up and just saying "no" to all the waste we create as a society. You are creative, brave and inspirational. Although I personally could not commit to such high standards at this point in my life, I am definitely able to use some of your wonderful ideas! The Today Show segment was fascinating to me. I've watched it probably half a dozen times just to let it sink in! Your home seems gorgeous and so peaceful without clutter! Funny thing is, as far as it is from where I am now, I don't feel any guilt about it (green guilt as they say.) I feel more of a beckoning if you will, a call to what is possible. I already do some of the things you advocate; bringing bags to the market for produce and groceries, emphasizing experiences over stuff for childrens' birthdays. We use a super small garbage can at our house right now, but there is so much more we can do! I think your closet/armoire system is brilliant, spare of everything but necessities. It reminds me of those ladies' magazine articles where they show like 30 different "looks" with only 10 garments. I'll for sure be going around my house, and relegating underused stuff to the donation pile. First on my list, everyone in the house is going to hand over 10 T-shirts for Goodwill. That right there will get forty (40!!) unnecessary garments out of our closets. Thanks so much for blogging and inspiring! Best, Paula

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  51. Bea, watching the Today show yesterday morning sent me searching for more info. I am not the extreme green that you are but am always interested in finding out more ways to simplify our life. We are very dedicated to ministry and by simplifying our life, I can help to provide more time and energy to that dedication.

    However, right now your blog is contributing to my procrastination and time wasting ;) I really want to read through it all and eventually will. I have dozens of questions for you so maybe at some point in time, I'll get to it.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  52. Awesome!It makes me so happy to see all the media attention your story is getting! You will inspire a lot more people I'm sure. We need to get the message of zero waste out there to everyone. Nice work Johnston family.

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  53. Anonymous4/19/2011

    Great segment! I think about your ideas often as I look at waste going in the garbage can. I've already done some of the easiest stuff--E.g. Bring cloth bags to the grocery store, use cloth napkins and dish clothes, go to consignment stores, but there are definitely some things I'm just not sure what to do about. For example, the waste from the cats' litter box. We throw it out now, but maybe there's another solution. Bones and skin from meat and fish. We have a compost pile, but i've always read you can't put those things in. And then there's a question about indulgences. I have a weakness for an occasional s'more, which we made over the weekend. I realized after the fact that you end up w/ a graham cracker box and wax wrappers, a plastic bag from the marshmallows, and plastic, cardboard and paper wrapping from the Hersheys bar. So, yes, i realize that's a LOT of garbage. Curious what might be alternatives to never eating a s'more again. Or, maybe more generally, what do you do about things you love that generate waste? Do you see room for something other than just doing without?

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  54. Hi Bea,

    Did you ever foresee all this attention? I find it amazing how God works in our lives. Loving, unselfish actions like yours make the greatest difference in the world.

    What needs to happen next is that the retail stores need to meet the growing demand for bulk items. I live in the western suburbs of Chicago, so you would think I'd have access to a good supply of bulk foods, but Whole Foods is the only bulk food supplier that I know of, and their supply is limited.

    I've been doing great in my efforts to refuse, and am seeing the results in my garbage. But I still feel I have a long way to go. It's the junk mail that I seem to struggle with the most. It just keeps coming. How can these companies afford to keep sending out catalogs? It's ridiculous:)

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  55. Anonymous4/19/2011

    Hello, Bea. I just read the Sunset article in which you and your family were featured, and after reading through dozens and dozens of negative comments, I felt compelled to drop a line. I just want to say thank you for showing me an alternative way to live and a different approach to the mundane tasks of every day life.

    I wish people understood that the opinions, comments and choices you have made regarding your family pertain only to you and your family and that you are not implying that this is the way everyone should live.

    Keep up the good work.

    Yolanda

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  56. RE: Smores
    Anonymous: You can make your own marshmallows! And see if you can find giant chocolate bars; remember from grammar school math, the larger something is, the more mass you get vs surface area, so, although it is a larger wrapper, overall you get more chocolate per wrapper than a bunch of little bars.
    Graham crackers sorry, I don't know. Can you make those too?

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  57. RE: Smores

    Yes, you can make graham crackers. Look on a site like allrecipes.com.

    Making your own marshmallows? Must try this! :)

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  58. Bea,
    Great to see you on the big screen. I am happy that this matter is getting so much attention. You have inspired me to start making real changes to reduce waste. I already wanted to reduce my family's waste but really didn't know how to make a serious impact. Kudos to you and thanks!

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  59. Thank you so much for posting this. I live in a large family and it has been hard to motivate people. After seeing this video I recruited one member to the zero waste team. Today she suggested going to the deli with jars! We have reduced our waste by 50% I feel so good when I don't have to throw anything away:)

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  60. Anonymous4/20/2011

    Would appreciate a post someday on the difference between minimalism/Zero Waste and a rejection of modernism. For example, I don't see you as advocating a return to outhouses and an anti-medical treatment stand.
    In response to an earlier comment: disease is wasteful, and the goal [I would think] of Zero Waste is to minimize one's negative impact on the world, including the spread of preventable disease (aka immunizations). Thousands have become needlessly ill, permanently damaged or have died from these diseases because of some misguided notion or paranoia.
    It would also be wasteful to not allow children to have the best education possible and to assume as a parent you "know enough" to provide adequate education and socialization.

    We must all be active participants in the world, and not reject the great advances in our society while we seek to simplify and minimize.

    And thanks for allowing others to witness, and "judge" your lifestyle. Very brave.

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  61. Anonymous4/20/2011

    You have been such an inpiration to me. After reading your blog and thinking about our lifestyle I realized there is so much more our family can do to reduce our waste and spend time on more important things than accumulating possessions. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us!
    Melissa Hatch

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  62. Hi All and thanks for all your supportive comments: Your open minds rock, and are changing the world.

    Re: freezing questions answered on the Zero Waste Kitchen article. I freeze bread in a pillowcase for a week and freeze leftovers, meat, fish, etc in glass jars. No freezer burns.

    Nia: I too have found paper towels to be one of the easiest and most satisfying things to let go.

    Margery: Well said, re: focusing on what you can do. Bulk might not be within everyone's reach, but rules #1 (refusing) and #2 (reducing) are.

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  63. Anonymous4/20/2011

    re:smores
    At candy stores they sell a lot in bulk. They probably sell chocolate as well. I know at some of my local candy stores they have chocolate behind a counter and you could probably ask for it without the packaging. Good luck!

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  64. I tested your bread in the pillowcase suggestion this week - I bake my own bread with freshly milled flour - I only left it in the freezer for 48 hours however it came out nicely so I will continue with this one since we use our bread within a week anyway. Thanks for the tip! For my countertop, I use a Progressive brand breadkeeper to replace a Ziploc bag - it has a vent option for warm bread and seems to work better than a plastic bag.

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  65. What a great video! You are such an inspiration. Congratulations to you on the Green Awards! That is awesome. I voted many times and encouraged those on my facebook to do the same. You give people hope!

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  66. Pillowcases! I would never have thought of that. Thanks so much for answering my question -will definitely try it when my stock of plastic bags become unusable.

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  67. Questions where you get the following:

    -Bulk baking soda (i make my own laundry detergent and tooth powder and can't find it without packaging)
    -Bulk washing soda

    We make almost everything else, but still can't seem to not fill up the recycling bin. This video was filled with the ideas I need to eliminate a lot of the stuff.

    BRILLIANCE!

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  68. Bea, I've been following your blog since the article about your family in Sunset Magazine. Thank you for opening up your home to us all. You and your family are an inspiration! Reading your blog has definitely made me more aware of how much trash my family and I have. I'm realizing the key is to simplify the home and de-clutter- playing less into consumerism. The past few months I have been donating items to charity. I now have jars for my bulk items (I used to always use and store my nuts, dried fruits and pastas in the bulk plastic baggies), now my food is better organized and stays fresher in those jars. With determination, I continue on a path to lessening the waste in our home.

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  69. Kandice3/22/2012

    I just saw you on The View this morning and have been reading your blog today. As soon as my husband got home from work, I was sharing it with him. You are an inspiration, really. My family is suffocating under the weight of all of the stuff we have accumulated that we do not need. I also talked to my kids tonight about this issue -- they are 7 and 9. I can't describe how deeply your blog has resonated with me. I know big changes are ahead for my family and it is exciting. Thank you for putting yourself out there. I will be a loyal follower of your blog from now on. The refusing and reducing begins now. We recycle, but regularly fill up a huge trash bin and recycle bin each week and I was contemplating ordering another of each because that's how much we generate. It's terrible and it's going to change.

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