10 Tips for Creating a Zero Waste Home

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 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 yearn 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.

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. [Yes, I couldn't agree more! See my article on the Anatomy of Clutter.]

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 reusables (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 locationsóbut 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!

What zero waste ideas do you have? Please share your ideas and goals with our readers!

You can follow Bea’s wonderful blog The Zero Waste Home by clicking here.

Read more Green Living and Feng Shui articles by Erica Sofrina here.

Erica Sofrina is a Feng Shui and Green Design specialist, teacher, speaker, author and Founder of the Academy of Feng Shui which offers Feng Shui and Green Design programs and seminars.

The Green Home Remodel
Eco Friendly Fire Places
Eco Window Coverings
Eco Friendly Wall Finishes
Eco Friendly Flooring
Eco Friendly Counter Tops

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


Sonia M

Some good tips thanks for sharing

Peggy B
Peggy B6 months ago


Marija M
Marija Mohoric6 months ago

good idea, tks.

Lawrence D.
Lawrence D2 years ago

Useful thanks.

Lawrence D.
Lawrence D2 years ago

Useful thanks.

Marvin K.
Marvin K.3 years ago

I have invented a paper towel solid waste reduction product that I am trying to get some feedback on and interest in order to find funding to help me develop industrialized and residential units for the mass markets out there so they can become available to waste reduction programs and environmentally concerned citizens and businesses. 3,000 tons of paper towel waste goes to the landfills every day in the US. My invention the I.C.T.S. dispenses individual cloth towels quickly and effortlessly as you can tell in my presentation video.

If you have time to check out my video to see if this product is something you would use in your home if one was available in the markets I would be interested in your feedback and if you do not have the time then if you could please forward my message to someone whom you think may be interested in knowing more about my paper towel solid waste reduction invention the I.C.T.S. “Individual Cloth Towel System” which dispenses sanitary (laundered) individual cloth towels that would be great.

I have enclosed a link to my funding site that has a video on it which goes into more details about my invention I believe it has significant practical applications worth considering. Thank you.

Video link to funding site: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2091539073/icts-is-an-individual-cloth-towel-system-dispenser

Kamia T.
Kamia T3 years ago

Very good tips. I'm started limiting my out of house shopping trips to two a month, which helps a great deal. You'd be amazed what you can live without if you have to, and once you've done without it for a period of time, you figure out how to do without it forever often.

Irene M.
Irene M4 years ago

It would be nice to have a character counter so we could know when we are running out of space... :)

- As for pens, we keep only those which can be refilled. Even some free of promotional pens are refillable. Long ago, we used up and recycled those that weren't, and nowadays we have only 5-8 refillable pens around the house, and won't buy or accept one which isn'r refillable.

There always different ways to improve and I'm always looking for them! :)

Irene M.
Irene M4 years ago

I have to admit I have a hard time with the "refuse" part. I have no problem in refusing flyers and any piece of paper that is handed to me in the street. I signed to a list to reduce junk mail years ago (and it worked - we barely get junk mail any more). But I will always accept free samples or gifts, since I know they are going to be used and appreciated. I will use them myself or give them to friends. For people that lives on a low budget, even a free pen or cosmetic sample means a saving, so I won't refuse what I know I can use or give to another.

Here are some of my tips:

- I receive many imitation jewellery as "free with your purchase" gifts. Most times I have the chance to refuse it or exchange for a more interesting freebie, but, when I accept it, I give to my young students which are very fond of them (and this way, they won't risk to bring real, expensive jewelry to the school, when it can easily get lost or even stolen).

- Same applies to products I don't personally use. Many times I have got a free eye mask or eye liner, and I have handed it unopened to friends or older students. Recently I was offered some free coffee capsules. I don't have a capsule coffee- maker, but accepted them and gave them to a friend who has one.

- Pet food companies are usually fond of giving away samples or even full-sized products. It's been a long time since I haven't bought snacks for my dogs and cats, since I've been able to get them for free.

- As for pens, we ke

Elisa F.
Elisa F4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.