Zero tolerance for wasteful living

Since the first Earth Day in the 1970's, millions of people throughout the world have taken the initiative of transitioning into a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, in order to save our planet from the depletion of precious resources by either sacrificing wasteful habits or substituting greener methods of living.

The city of Santa Monica has proudly served as a model sustainable city, and is recognized as one of the top ten in the country. Events in honor of Earth Day are planned annually, leading up to Earth Day on Apr. 22 throughout the city.

Many Santa Monica residents have implemented ways to affect change in their households like numerous American families have, but even our "green" Santa Monica dwellers have not put the time and energy in that an inspirational family in Northern California have.

To the Johnson family determination, motivation and passion have led them to create a "zero waste home." Their lifestyle has attracted national attention from media outlets such as Sunset Magazine and The New York Times. From trash to showering habits, the family has adjusted almost everything about the way they live, to the point where they have been both praised and ridiculed. 

In an interview with a local radio show, Béa Johnson reveals that her family yields a total of four handfuls of trash a year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American creates four pounds of trash a day.

Buying reusable water bottles, bringing tote bags to the market, and buying groceries in bulk were the first steps that Béa Johnson took to transform her family into what it is now. Béa Johnson lives with her husband, Scott, and her two boys, Max, 10, and Leo, 9.

 "I believe that the Earth has been trashed. Enough is enough. How did we ever think that there was such thing as 'away' in the term 'throw away?'" said Johnson on her now highly revered and popular blog, "We're all responsible—every time we buy, we vote. Manufacturers are candidates, Consumers are voters; let's start voting right."

Johnson inspires, advises, humors, and educates people willing to turn their wasteful lives into lives with less junk.

To say less is more would be an understatement, since Johnson claims a life devoid of anything that is in excess and is not used on a daily basis. Her followers had the opportunity to ask her eldest son, Max, what his favorite things to do were, considering his life lacking constant cleaning, shopping, and unnecessary decisions on which item to use. Like any normal 10-year-old, Max uses his downtime spending time with his friends at the beach and going to the movies (the Johnsons do not have video games or DVD's in their home).

In an interview with Sunset Magazine, Mrs. Johnson had this to say on cleaning superfluous items from her life: "When we started getting rid of things, it was kind of addictive. The less I have, the richer I feel. Stuff weighs you down."

In a culture which seems to be fueled by mass consumerism, to take a look into the Johnson residence reveals a peculiar observation: most of the Johnson home is white, with two or three objects (aside from the food which is all kept in reusable glass jars—even the meat and dairy) contrasting in orange. Furniture is sparse, often transformable, and also mostly white. All wardrobes range from seven shirts to three bottoms, and the Johnson's shoe range caps at six pairs. Throughout the year, anything that is stained, torn, or unwearable for whatever reason is replaced by something bought at a thrift store.

A single medicine cabinet suffices for storing all toiletries.

Mrs. Johnson has taken the responsibility of living by example to the possibilities of cutting down waste to the fullest extent. She is very adamant about her blog's tagline, "Refuse, refuse, refuse. Then reduce, reuse, recycle (and in that order)" making recycling the very last resort.

To a person interested in adjusting their lifestyle to a greener one, Johnson suggests starting out small and then creating more change as you go along. Replacing paper towels with microfiber ones, beginning a compost, making your own beauty products and cleaners, drying clothing on a line, refusing junk mail, using your local library, and buying secondhand are all ways to take it a step further.

Without a doubt, the Johnson family is resourceful and creative. They do us all a favor by serving as sources of inspiration for our potential to halt the negative environmental impact we have the earth.