MILL VALLEY (KPIX 5) – A lot of us try to recycle and reduce our waste, but there is one North Bay family that has us all beat – tossing out only a quart of garbage each year.

When Bea Johnson, her husband, and two boys moved to Mill Valley in 2007 they let go of 80 percent of their stuff.

“We evaluate the things we really need and really enjoy and let go of the rest, ” Said Johnson. “Today we only have two towels per person, one pair of shorts.”

In her blog and new book Zero Waste Home, Johnson lays out a the five “R’s” that she lives by:

Refuse – things you don’t need
Reduce – get rid of things that clutter your life
Reuse – buy things second hand
Recycle – take advantage of local recycling programs
Rot – learn how many things can be composted

Using the method, the family has accumulated only one quart worth of trash over the last 11 months. The waste, which includes an old passport cover and some laminated tickets, is crammed into a small jar that the family has held on to.

Johnson buys in bulk at health stores to avoid plastic packaging and stores things in jars and recycled tote bags.

“I bring my jar to the store and then they refill it at the counter,” said Johnson. “They bake bread and put it right into my pillow case.”

In the bathroom, the family uses compostable bamboo toothbrushes and one bar of soap for all bathing needs.

Johnson says the zero waste lifestyle has cut 40 percent out of their budget, and made life better.

“Living with less we have a lot more time on our hands to do the things we really enjoy doing.”

The EPA says the average American produces more than four pounds of garbage every day.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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