How to Live Zero Waste

2 minute read

Trash is our dirty habit. From the giant island of plastic in the Pacific to overflowing landfills, humans have left no part of the world untouched. And the U.S. is a top contributor to the global trash problem with the average American generating 4.4 pounds of garbage each day.

Members of a growing anti-waste campaign say with a little work it does not have to be that way. The zero waste movement has inspired a legion of followers who brag that they can fit an entire year’s worth of garbage into a tiny jar — and insist you can too with a little work.

It’s an idea that Bea Johnson, a native of France, has popularized in a book, speeches and on her website Zero Waste Home. Johnson says there are 5 ‘Rs’ to use as a guideline for achieving a zero waste home: “Refuse” what you do not need, “reduce,” “reuse” or “recycle” what you can’t refuse, and “rot,” or compost, organic products.

Johnson, who lives in Mill Valley, Calif. with her husband and two sons, gave TIME a tour of her zero waste home along with advice for anyone interested in cutting back.

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