Own less, waste less and live more

Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home is the guru of the zero waste lifestyle. She is inspiring people around the world by sharing her journey through social media and being invited to give talks around the world. She visited South Africa recently, writes Omeshnie Naidoo.

Her model is also low cost, super savvy and toxin free.

Since 2008, she and her family have produced a mere one jam jar of waste each year, using the 5R principles: Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.

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Bea Johnson with her family. Right, her ‘Zero Waste Home’ is now available in a book which is the ultimate guide to simplified, sustainable living.

Johnson is 2011 Grand Prize winner of the Green Award, and is author of best-seller Zero Waste Home which has been translated into 14 languages.

Described as the “priestess of waste-free living” by the New York Times, and as the “messiah of ecology” by Paris Match, Johnson teaches us to “own less, waste less and live more”.

She was in South Africa for a national tour this week and we decided to summarise some of the nuggets she has shared:

Don’t need it, don’t want it

Just say no to items you would discard anyway, such as junk mail and freebies. By accepting and collecting items such as hotel toiletries you’re just increasing the demand for them.

Ten spoons and two hands

Do you have more than you need and can actually use at any given time?

You’ll be amazed at how much clutter you live with, having not recognised it for clutter in the first place.

Zero Waste Home is now available in a book which is the ultimate guide to simplified, sustainable living.

Having less doesn’t mean having fewer options. What if clothes, for what if I have to go to a wedding, what if I lose weight or what if it snows, are a waste of time. Even the research suggests that the average person only ends up using about 20 percent of their wardrobe. Keep essentials and mix and match. As far as possible swop all disposal items for reusable. Use reusable shopping bags and jars.

Buy what you can in bulk and use your own bags to get them home and into your jars. Disposable sponges for washing dishes and the like can be replaced with durable, longer lasting items.

Recycle what you can not refuse or reuse. Buy second-hand

Shop at flea markets to give furniture a new lease on life and avoid them landing up at the landfill.

For specific items go online to buy second-hand, it’s cheaper too. In general avoid plastic, its made for the landfill.

Plastic is largely made in a way harmful to the environment and when we use then they can be harmful to us. Rather just replace plastic with glass, wood, tin and paper.

Look for and include in your life, safe multi-purpose products.

Zero Waste Home is now available in a book which is the ultimate guide to simplified, sustainable living.

Example organic coco powder works as blush, dry shampoo, eyebrow powder, eyelid powder and body bronzer.

You can use baking soda as toothpaste, deodorant, tile scrubber and exfoliator. Mix it with water and you have antacid.

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