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Extreme green: Meet the family that never throws anything away

We all try to reduce, re-use and recycle, but one California family has taken green to the extreme. They don't throw anything out -- ever.

They don't buy anything with packaging: They shop at farmer's markets and the bulk section of the supermarket, bringing their own jars and cloth bags to carry food home. Instead of paper towels, they use microfiber cloths. Instead of Kleenex, they use fabric handkerchiefs. Food waste goes into the compost bin, and onto their garden. Their two sons have four bins of toys, and if they want something new, the rule is that it has to fit in the bin -- outgrown toys are sold, donated to charity or re-gifted.

"We're just as normal as anyone else, we just happen not to have trash," Bea Johnson tells TODAY.

Instead of consuming all their time, Bea and Scott Johnson say their no-waste philosophy has actually simplified their lives. "I thought it was going to be a lot of work .... In fact, the whole lifestyle saved a lot of time," Scott Johnson says. (Of course, the cynical side of me can't help but notice that he's not the pinning fabric noserags onto a clothesline to dry.)  

When Sunset magazine ran a story about the Johnsons, they got more reader response than they have for any other recent story.

Many people were inspired, like this commenter:

Wow the Johnson family is really setting a model example of what a green lifestyle is, and what the benefits of it can be. Even though they aren't entirely green in every aspect of life, if a majority of humans were to adopt their lifestyle, many pollutants we through into the environment such as plastic would have their numbers drastically decrease. I believe that if I showed my parents the example the Johnson family has set, and what the impacts of such an environmentally healthy lifestyle could be, they too would strive to recycle and reduce the amount of daily waste we produce through packaged items, etc.

Others were pretty disgusted:

This lifestyle may be a love letter to mother earth, but it's hate mail addressed to the creativity of man. If everyone had lived like this since history began we'd have no Botticelli canvases, no illuminated manuscripts, and none of the countless personal diaries that documented great historical eras. ... If this family's ideal is to compost into a natural oblivion like a heap of banana peels, great. But the kind of world they are working to create isn't one worth preserving.

And others just found their lifestyle impractical:

You really have to have a lot of free time on your hands to do all that. ... If both of them were working full time and took care of 2 kids on their own , they would not have time and money to live like they are living now

What do you think? Could your family ever go zero-waste, or close to it?