Bea Johnson lives waste-free with her family since 2008 and is the author of the bestseller Zero Waste Home (Zéro Déchet en francais)
"Since embarking on the Zero Waste lifestyle, our lives have changed for the better: We feel happier and lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff. My goal is to share its incredible health, financial and time saving benefits!"
Zero Waste’s #1 rule
REFUSE, REFUSE, REFUSE: Zero Waste’s #1 rule. We have all been programmed to accept and take whatever is given to us. Every bit we accept and take, creates demand. Zero Waste starts by chasing and changing those habits, one by one. Here are seven ideas to get you started:
- Refuse that plastic bag!: Even if the item, that you have not yet paid for, is already bagged. You know that the bag is probably going to end up in the can but you can let that one go: You’ll feel horrible seeing it go to waste (it will help you remember next time) and refusing helps cashiers change their compulsive bagging habits. De-bagging being a time waster, only our incessant reminding will get them deprogrammed.
- Refuse that bottle of water that you get handed for no reason, my husband went to a sports bar last month, the next day I found a bottle of water in his car (!!!) (#&%@%$#!)... He explained to me that although he barely drank, the bartender gave it to him, and that he felt bad saying no… come on! Show some strength, Love! Did he twist your arm to take his bottle of water? Were they out of tap water at the bar? …
- Refuse freebies from parties, events, festivals, etc. (including green parties, green events and green festivals): I can hear you: “oh, but it’s free!”… well not really, nothing in life is free. Stop the demand for swag bags (and whatever crap it contains).
- Refuse excessive packaging or toxic ingredients and write a letter to those that you wish would change (I try to write a letter of feedback every other day): I believe that consumers can change the world if they let manufacturers know what they want. Remember, you vote every time you buy…
- Refuse the food/drinks served in disposables: Tough, I know, but if you had brought your own, you’d be drinking and eating… you won’t make that mistake more that a couple of times.
- Refuse to let junk mail go from your mailbox straight to your recycling can: you need to cancel those pesky mailings one by one (see “Junk Mail War”)
- Refuse the extra school papers that come home: talk to your kids teachers and request less paper. I used to get a copy of the Community Center Activities Catalog from both my boy’s classes. What a waste, when the catalog is already sent out to all residents and can also be viewed online… at the beginning of the year, I opted-out with the kids teachers and they have been most cooperative.