MILL VALLEY (KCBS)— When Bea Johnson refuses to accept a business card it’s nothing personal. It’s just part of her zero-waste lifestyle that she and her family have employed since 2008.

The author of a book titled, “Zero Waste Home”, is married and the mother of two. Since the family moved to Mill Valley in 2007 they’ve let go of 80 percent of their possessions and only produce about a quart-sized jar of trash a year.

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Johnson, a French beauty, walks tall in an elegant second-hand outfit, which is how she buys all of her clothes. Even her makeup is handmade.

“You don’t have to look like a granola to live this lifestyle. You can live a modern life. You can stick with your own sense of aesthetics,” she says.

The minimalist lifestyle may seem extreme, but she says her voluntary simplicity has allowed her family to value experiences over things and to do her part in helping the environment.

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“Once you see it’s possible, you can’t get it out of your head.”

Here’s some of Johnson’s tips from her blog as Earth Day approaches.


1) Use 100% recycled and unbleached toilet paper individually wrapped in paper (if you have solar you could install an electrical washlet to your toilet seat).
2) Use an alum stone or straight baking soda as antiperspirant.
3) For shaving, (re)use a safety razor and shaving soap (any rich soap, such as Alep soap will do).
4) Refill your bottles with bulk shampoo and conditioner. If your hair is short, you also have the “no-poo” option: rinse your hair, massage baking soda in, and then rinse, with vinegar for shine. Or use a shampoo bar. Instead of hairspray, switch to lemon water in a spray bottle (see Recipes). To go longer between washes, substitute dry shampoo for cornstarch (in bulk).
5) For body/face soap, find a package-free solid soap. To exfoliate, use bulk baking soda. For a mask, use bulk clays (French, Kaolin, Bentonite, etc…), mixed with water or apple cider vinegar.
6) Switch from toothpaste to homemade tooth powder (see Recipes), in a glass parmesan dispenser. Use a wooden compostable toothbrush.
7) Reduce your cosmetics and consider homemade substitutes such as cocoa powder as bronzer and homemade balm that works on eyes, lips, hair and nails (see Recipes) and in lieu of disposable feminine products, invest in menstrual cup and reusable liners.
8) All you need for your nails is a nail clipper, stainless steel file and the homemade balm for moisture and shine.
9) Forget about Q-tips, they are not good for you anyways. Do your research.

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YOU CAN ALSO: compost hair and nail clippings, put a brick in your toilet tank, collect water in a bucket while your shower heats and water your plants with it. Use zero waste cleaning: microfiber cloths for mirrors, vinegar for mold, baking soda as scrub, a mix of baking soda and vinegar as drain cleaner