01 Dec A talk by Bea Johnson – zero waste guru
Today I was lucky enough to attend a lunchtime lecture featuring the one, the only, the guru of Zero Waste…. Bea Johnson!!! Woohoo! It was amazing. I was geeking out to the nth degree as you can imagine – front row seat and pen at the ready to take down lots of pieces of Zero Waste Wisdom (let’s call them ZWW!) I even got in the first question. My hand shot up like Hermione Granger! I asked her if she had noticed that the vast majority of bloggers, YouTubers, or instagrammers who are living and promoting zero waste are women, and if she thought there was any particular reason behind this. She thought it was because women have often controlled the consumption of the household (in nuclear family units) and so they are the most able to change the habits of the family – so are often on the frontlines of sharing their experiences in zero waste living.
Bea doing her thing!
Here are the main things I got out of the lecture:
ZWW 1: Zero waste is not about complicating your life: it’s about simplifying it.
- I get asked this question more than anything else: but doesn’t zero waste add more time, effort and hassle into your life? The answer is no! Changing your habits is just that – it takes time to change and get into a new rhythm, but once you’ve figured out your new routine, all you need to do is live it.
- Yes, that will require some tweaking at the beginning – but as you consume less, consume better and consume experiences rather than stuff, you’ll find your complicated life suddenly… uncomplicated!
ZWW 2: Zero waste is not about homemaking, it’s about making do with what you have
- Bea said that the downfall she had at the start of her zero waste journey, and the trap she sees many bloggers fall into, is equating zero waste with making everything from scratch. She said this can often alienate people new to the movement who don’t have the time or energy to sit at home testing recipes for crackers.
- I was CONVINCED at the start of this that to be a good “zero waster” I needed to “go back to my roots”. To me that meant: hey, my great grandmother couldn’t just wander down to the store and BUY herself some pasta. She made it herself! What happened to the good old days when we were self-sufficient, huh?
- Hey – it turns out making pasta (while fun and delicious) is not something you can do every time you want to eat pasta. Certainly not while holding down a full-time job, a social calendar and a regular sleep schedule!
- Making stuff from scratch can be awesome, fun and rewarding. But making it a necessity means it won’t be sustainable in the long-run – and this should be a lifestyle change.
- Making do with what you have means accepting that you can make compromises. So no, I don’t make everything from scratch. My local bulk store has great pasta – and I’m just fine with that.
ZWW 3: Zero waste means business opportunities for the future
- Bea said she often has people say to her: “We’re a capitalist society and consumption drives our economy. If everyone lived the way you did, our economies would collapse.” And then in almost the same breath – “And anyways, I can’t do zero waste living. There are no bulk stores near me.”
- Uhhh, hello!! Business opportunity – ding ding ding!! Open a bulk store! Open a classy, sleek secondhand store that models the marketing of existing boutiques instead of treasure hunting in a store that often smells…like a thrift store (y’all who shop secondhand totally know what smell I mean)! Open a repair shop! Sell mason jars and cloth bags! Aren’t there business opportunities that lie in changing zero waste from a “hippie” thing to a cool, minimalist, “I live for the moment not for my stuff” type of thing that even celebrities would be on board with?
And my final personal ZWW:
You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference.
Guys, did you see how I made that big and bold for you?? That means: You don’t have to be at ZERO to be DOING SOMETHING GOOD for yourself, for your planet, and for the other creatures you share the earth with! I often get comments from friends like “oh but I couldn’t do it all the way, I could never get down to zero” – hey man, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If every person I’ve ever met made the pledge to never use a plastic bag again, that’s already a massive deal. If those same people said they would never use a disposable coffee cup again, or they all started buying in bulk – that would snowball into something massive.
You don’t need to be able to fit all your trash in a mason jar like Bea (see picture below) to be preventing your trash from hurting our planet.
Now throwing it back to you readers– do you have any tips or philosophies you’d like to share? What would you ask Bea Johnson if you got the chance to meet her? What is currently holding you back from trying out a zero waste lifestyle?
Much zero-waste love to you all,