The concept of living a zero-waste life is growing ever more in popularity, not least because of a woman that started – together with her family – to live a zero-waste life and they now produce less than a glass jar full of trash annually. Her name is synonymous with the zero-waste movement. Bea Johnson, born in Provence, France moved to California at the age of 18 on au pair programme where she met her future husband. She began as early as 2006 to simplify her life and she is widely recognised for popularising zero waste living. Here are Bea’s 5Rs on how to make this life work:
1) REFUSE: just say NO to all the things you don’t need, especially to single-use plastic items. The key is mindfulness. Be mindful and conscious when you say YES and don’t be afraid to say NO! Every time you take a ‘free’ plastic pen or cutlery you are giving the message that it’s OK to drill further oil from the ground and invest precious resources to create more products that are not needed nor necessary.
2) REDUCE: Reducing means to declutter your life. Take stock of everything you have and ask yourself: Do I truly need this? Does it represent the true ME? Do I use these things?
On average a person only uses 20% of their wardrobe. Take stock of every single item in your closet and let go of the one’s you don’t wear. Throw a clothes-swap party or donate it to a charity organisation. Also, take stock of your kitchen drawers and your cleaning closet. A different product is not necessary for every separate corner of your house. Check out our article here on how to make your own cleaning products to help you declutter.
3) REUSE: These days you can find zero-waste supermarkets in cities. How does it work? You bring your own containers and fill them up with grains, teas, spices, you name it! Do you live in the countryside? Lovely! Check out if you can buy certain products directly from farmers.
There is no need for paper towels either, instead, you can buy a product made from bamboo. It works the same way though it ends up in your laundry basket instead of your trash bin. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants, some species can reach full maturity in just 90 days. It also regrows after it has been cut, unlike ‘regular’ trees we use for paper production.
4) RECYCLE: Plastics should be avoided at all costs as they can’t be recycled. Not only we humans suffer (plastic is toxic and oftentimes leaks so the toxins end up in our bodies). We all have seen pictures of dead birds whose bellies are full of undigestible plastic or of sea turtles having succumbed because they got entangled in plastic packaging, polluting our oceans.
5) ROT: Compost! If you buy environmentally friendly products you can also compost the biodegradable packaging, not only your fruits and veggies. In order to compost you don’t necessarily need to live in the country or have a big garden or balcony. You can keep an indoor worm composting bin.
You feel inspired and want to live a life that produces less than a glass jar full of trash? GO for it! Though by simply taking one of the 5Rs to heart and being more mindful of how you consume is having a greater impact than you can imagine. YOU are FAB for taking the first step towards a life containing less waste, a life of having less but BEING MORE!