Move Closer To Zero Home Waste; It’s Not as Crazy as It Sounds

Some of my practices in sustainability have been called “crazy,” like bringing my own to-go containers to avoid putting my restaurant leftovers in Styrofoam.

But Bea Johnson has me beat by a long shot.

Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, spoke at Northaven United Methodist Church for a zero-waste conference hosted by Alliance Française, a French cultural and language learning center, and its partner Dallas Accueil.

I read Johnson’s book after seeing a Facebook post demonstrating how her family of four managed to fit one years’ worth of trash in a single mason jar.

She takes her own containers when she buys cereal, grains, flour, etc. from the bulk section, and more surprising, from the meat counter.

“Just say, ‘I’d like one pound of shrimp please,’ and hand them the container,” she said. “Act like it’s perfectly normal.”

Note: the weight of the container should be removed from the calculation for your total price.

I do this on a smaller scale, taking my own bags instead of using the plastic ones provided for produce, grains, and nuts.

I haven’t been brave enough to try it at the meat counter. It’s a goal.

The 5 R's of Zero Waste
The 5 R’s of Zero Waste

Want to up your sustainability game? Go to her website for tons of ideas. Many are practical, and, believe it or not, cost-saving.

One of her main points was this lifestyle not only makes a difference for our planet, it saved her family 40% on their budget the first year.

Vendors at the conference included Texas Master Naturalist and Recycle Revolution, which serves our offices in downtown Dallas.

I’m proud of the steps our company is making. In addition to recycling paper, we have recycling and composting buckets in our two kitchens.

Of course, I serve on the Green Team that recently received our stats for 2019. We reduced our carbon footprint by 42,027 pounds.

Other conference vendors were Compost Carpool and Turn Compost, which I use for my home. They provide you with a bucket and offer either pick up or drop off services for a monthly fee.

Two friends affected by the October tornados attended. North Haven Gardens showed off sustainable gardening items. Interabang Books was selling Johnson’s book and facilitating the book signing.

The city of Dallas was there, too. The city has a Zero Waste by 2040 goal and recently adopted a multifamily recycling ordinance for properties with eight or more units.

But plenty of work remains.

Dallas’ 20% “diversion rate” (the percentage of the waste kept out of the landfill), as reported in 2017, hadn’t changed since 2013.

According to a 4-year-old article on, an audit found a 19.2% contamination rate for items thrown in recycling bins, meaning people too often are tossing in unrecyclable trash.

But we may be doing worse than that. I was told by a city representative that our contamination rate is now 40%.

We can do better.

Johnson practices the Five R’s; Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

We should, too.

Share this article...
Email this to someone
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Patricia Martin

Whether she’s serving the community or writing about it, Pat Martin is passionate about building lasting relationships and helping others see their full potential. Working for D Magazine and People Newspapers for 25 years Martin has seen a lot of change in our neighborhoods. The generosity and compassion of our community gives her motivation to lead the team in our mission to provide quality trusted news content relevant to the people of Park Cities and Preston Hollow. Feel free to contact Pat at For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.