The wardrobe trick is just one of a number that help Bea and her family avoid having to throw anything away and produce almost no rubbish. All the waste produced by the four of them in 2016 fits into a jar that Bea takes with her to her numerous presentations around the world. Bea Johnson is an energetic and lively narrator. But the most important thing is: She’s convincing. Audiences hang on her every word.
“Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot”
Bea Johnson’s Five R’s
“Buying means choosing,” is one of the key messages that Bea wants to get across to her audience. Consumers who keep on buying packaged food are telling the industry that packaging is wanted, leading to more and more of it being produced. Bea also came up with the “magic five Rs” of the Zero Waste movement: “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot”. Since she and her family gradually started introducing these rules in 2008, their life has changed radically – for the better.
“Think about what you really need and simply say no to the rest,” explains Bea Johnson. Lots of small steps led to a rapid reduction in the size of the private rubbish mountain. For example, you can reject junk mail and dispense with business cards. “Candles last longer when you keep them in the deep freeze,” says the blogger, causing a murmur in the hall. But the trick with candles, the avoidance of business cards and junk mail, are not enough for Bea and her family. They go much, much further. Bea, for example, has almost entirely stopped using cosmetics, using organic chocolate powder as rouge and carbonised almonds as eyeliner instead.
Bea Johnson sees her lifestyle not only as making a contribution to ecological balance, but also as a manual for being happy. The zero waste lifestyle creates space for the beautiful, simple things in life and has a positive effect on health and finances. “We have banished almost all toxic substances from our household,” says Bea, and her family has felt much healthier since the change in lifestyle.
There’s also much more left in the kitty at the end of the month: on average 40 percent more than there was when they began. When Bea, her husband or sons wanted to buy something, they always checked to see if they could get it second hand first, she explains. “When you buy something new, look for brands that provide a lifetime warranty on their products,” says the native Frenchwoman. She has even found herself a sock manufacturer which will repair or replace. “Isn’t that crazy?” she cries to the audience.
Bea Johnson has a number of fans and followers in the UK, such as plastic-free advocate Kate Arnell, who Triodos Bank interviewed recently.
Photo: Zona Photo
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