A few weeks back, Sunset profiled the zero-waste home of the Johnson clan, a family of four who after downsizing from a 3,000-square-foot home to more modest (1,400-square-foot) digs in the chichi Bay Area burb of Mill Valley, embarked on a serious household waste-curbing campaign. When the Sunset article was released and the Johnson story blew up all over the interwebs, I was intrigued but held off on blogging about it because, well, I didn’t know what to think.
While impressed by the commitment of blog-writing matriarch Béa Johnson — what she has accomplished truly takes foresight, restraint and adjustment — I had mixed feelings about what she had created: a green home that, in my mind, doesn't even really resemble a home. Minimalist bordering on sterile and hyper-organized to the point of being eerie, the Johnson’s zero-waste home doesn’t appear lived in. Béa, a native of France, even admits that a visiting neighbor called her home “futuristic and alien-like.”
I recently caught, via Jetson Green, a well-produced short Yahoo video segment that gives viewers an intimate glimpse inside of the Johnson zero-waste home. I thought the video might change my mind about the home.
Well, it doesn’t. While I admire Béa Johnson and certainly don’t think she is doing anything "wrong," something still doesn't sit well with me. I can only describe it as a "way to go!" but "not for me" type of reaction. I think it's mostly because of the “Patrick Bateman goes to Marin County with a compost bin out back” aesthetic of the Johnson home. Call me crazy, but I like a space to be lived in. I like stuff. But maybe I’m also feeling a bit of green-living guilt. As a waste-conscious single man living in Brooklyn, I appear to produce more waste in a single week than this family of four does in an entire year. Ouch. Maybe it’s time to start making my own tooth “powder" and become more vigilant about Netflix-related waste. Maybe I should (gasp) renew my library card.
What do you think of the Johnson family’s zero-waste lifestyle? Do you think that Béa J’s mission is so extreme it almost reaches “stunt” status? Or do you find the Johnson family's story completely inspirational? The Johnson zero-waste home has seemed to garner mixed reactions, so I'd love to know what you think.
The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.