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If You Do Not Need It, Refuse It, Even If It's Free ... That's 'Zero Waste'

The first-generation Blogger, Bea Johnson, spreading the "zero waste" movement

She became aware of the need for recycling from watching a plastic program...

The '5R' method of taking action can be followed by anyone in daily life...

Zero waste benefits our environment (Toronto Environmental Alliance)

When you search for the keyword 'zero waste' in the Amazon shopping mall in the US, over 70 books will appear. The best-selling book is the Zero Waste Home, published in 2013. It is a book about the process of 45-year-old Mrs. Bea Johnson's living near San Francisco. Hundreds of bloggers around the world and a lot of owners of shops without packaging "read this book and learned a new way of life," she says.

All her family's trash packed into a small glass bottle measuring 10cm in diameter and 10cm in height (Zero Waste Home)

Johnson, who recently visited a British international school, Dulwich College Seoul, said, "People have found the fact that you can live a life that does not have to be unusual and uncomfortable, but that can contribute to the environment relatable." Showing a small glass bottle measuring 10cm in diameter and 10cm in height, she said that the trash in that small container was all that her family members have generated last year. In 2006, she was impressed by the documentary about plastic, and she began to buy materials without the necessity of packaging and did more of recycling. Then, she moved the process into the blog. In 2008, the New York Times introduced this blog, and she became a superstar. "There was a lot of criticism that 'you are just a family,' 'you can not change the world.' Yet, this movement has spread out, with stores and recycling shops selling goods without packaging, and companies improving packaging. 10 years ago, I did not know that this change could happen."

She argues that the zero-waste practice method is summarized in 5R. Refuse unnecessary things, and reduce consumption. Buy a product that can be used ​​several times instead of something disposable. Recycle only when you can not use it again. Circulate and reclaim resources by burning rotting materials. The most important thing is rejection. She did not receive a business card- she did the same with free pens. "Whenever we take a free plastic bag, a paper card, or a napkin, we give the manufacturer a signal that 'we like plastic pens.' Then, manufacturers have to use up more resources in order to make more plastic- the supply- to meet the demands. This is how trash becomes an issue."

She endures the four seasons with only 15 clothes in her closet, uses an electric shaver instead of a disposable razor, and uses a menstrual cup instead of a single-use sanitary napkin. She buys only the one cream she needs for cosmetics, and makes lip-balm (ointment) and mascara twice a year.

After 13 years of unnecessary consumption, life itself has become simple. "Many people think of the concept of 'environment' as requiring a lot of money due to going to farmers' market and organic farms. However, without financially unnecessary consumption, being satisfied with what you have, and buying only when you need a substitute, you can save 40% or more." Most of her clothes were bought at a second-hand shop, and on special occasions, she presented "experiences" such as sky diving and bungee jumping. She faces many criticism questioning if she is forcing a child into such a life. "I do not know if kids will choose this kind of life as adults. I can not force them, but I think I gave them an option to live like this when they wish to because we have practiced living differently and taking action."

Continuously increasing rate of Google searches for veganism (BBC)

She is a consumer rather than an environmental activist. "Every year there are garbage in this 10cmx10cm bottle. They are things like plastic cards from the insurance company every six months and plastic labels from my favorite cheese company. Then, I call the manufacturers of these companies. What if you turn this into a paper label, substitute plastic cards into mobile... I keep suggesting solutions and making them tired of me. This is how I make changes."

Bea Johnson using an eco bag to carry bread from the bakery (The Women's Eye)

This includes the reason why Johnson became a role model for many bloggers. She takes action. "Some people say that politicians and entrepreneurs change the world; I do not agree. Manufacturers make what the consumers buy, and change is in the hands of the consumer." She believes that a consumer's one refusal and one buying can change the world. "There were many trial and error that could not be laughed at the beginning. I gave up washing my head with vinegar instead of shampoo in 6 months. I also tried making lip balm myself. In that process, I touched a poisonous nettle, thus, my lips turned all over. If you start too hastily and try to do it all at once, you fail. There is a way for each individual to fit in. I can not make them all out, however. I go to the bakery to buy bread, though I put it in an eco bag. I buy cheese from a cheese shop. I turn shampoo into an eco-friendly soap." Consumers who are enthusiastic about her life are mainly women, but the percentage of men has started increasing recently. She travels around the world, sharing her zero-waste life. She has also appeared on TED and speaking at the United Nations.

Living decadent for decades, she decisively said, "I do not want to go back to my previous life. For me, 'sustainability' is a movement that changes and simplifies life. Do not wait for the world to change; instead, you become the 'change.'"

click the link to visit Bea Johnson's website:



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