It is not impossible to withdraw from contributing to waste generation. Zero waste as a philosophy is catching up and it involves redesigning reducing, reusing and recycling resources to minimise trash. Bea Johnson, a Zero Waste Lifestyle Leader- Speaker – Blogger, and author of ‘Zero Waste Home – Auteure de Zéro Déchet’ has successfully made her household zero waste.
Zero waste seems difficult simply because our civilization is so set in consumerism that one cannot imagine living otherwise. There is also a lot of misunderstanding about wastefree living – people tend to think that it costs more and takes more time. My vocation today is to shatter these misconceptions.
I once urged my husband to compare bank statements from 2005 (pre Zero Waste life) with 2010 (when we had already adopted Zero Waste as a lifestyle). He found out that we were saving 40% on annual household costs by living this way.
Voluntary simplicity has changed our daily routine, as even cleaning the house only takes a few minutes each day. It makes our housework and professional work much more efficient.
What my family does to generate only a one quart size jar of trash per year is not that complicated. We simply follow a set of `5 in order, and so can you if you are looking to reduce your waste.
- Refuse what we do not need (for eg., single use plastics, junk mail and freebies)
- Reduce what we do need (furnishings, clothes)
- Reuse by buying second-hand and swapping disposables for reuse (that includes shopping with reusable material such as cloth bags, jars and bottles)
- Recycle what we cannot refuse, reduce or reuse
- Rot (compost) the rest (fruit peels, lint, hair or floor sweepings).
The most important thing one can do to stop waste and clutter from entering their home is to simply say no! Think before accepting something that is handed out to you. Turn down flyers, freebies, party favours, business cards, single use plastics (such as plastic bags), and fight junk mail. They are a waste of resources and once they are brought into our home, they add to the clutter and require effort to dispose them later.
Going zero waste
It is downsizing that triggered our rethinking. Our transformation was not overnight, but rather gradual. It took two years for us to go from living in a large home to choosing a more environmental-friendly way of living. It also required finding a system that works for us, which meant researching, testing, and then adopting waste-free alternatives.
Our biggest challenge was finding balance, figuring out what works for us and what does not. Since 2009, we found that for Zero Waste to be sustainable in a household, one has to adopt alternatives that fits his/her schedule and are feasible in the long run!
Be a leader
The best way to inspire others is to live by example. Don’t wait for change to just happen, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Adopt the Zero Waste lifestyle and others around will follow your lead.
Since 2009, my family’s zero waste lifestyle has inspired thousands throughout the world to follow our lead. It really is humbling! We never expected to start such a movement.
Bea’s Tips for Zero Waste
- Use alternatives to disposables such as reusable rags
- Compost kitchen waste