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….is my family’s secret to living waste-free since 2008!” Bea Johnson

Earlier this week I attended a brilliant talk by Bea Johnson, author of the book Zero Waste Home and proprietor of the website Zero Waste Home where she provides a host of resources (bulk buy sellers in Ireland) and tips on how to de-plastic and declutter your life. She lives in California with her husband and two teenage boys, The amount of black bin waste their family created last year fits inside a small mason jar. That is impressive, and it gets me thinking about our black bin waste, we are down to one and a half black bin collections a year  (husband, myself and a cat) which is not terrible,  but it could be so much less if we found plastic free alternatives to more food items and planned meals for the week and bought stuff in bulk or was part of a local bulk buy group.

Things we currently regularly buy in plastic: 
(B) = black bin; (R) = recyclable; (U)= unsure
Milk (R)
Cheese (B)
Crisps (B)
Some nuts (B)
Lemons and limes (B)
Lettuce (B)
Pulses (U) 
Free range chicken (B&R)
Pasta (U)
Yoghurt (R)

Food that I regularly buy that I have found waste free alternatives for
I buy most of my veggies and fruit naked
I have bought nuts using my own cotton bags
Meat (I bring my own plastic ice-cream boxes to butchers)
Oats in paper bags 
Free Range Eggs in  boxes, no plastic

Unlike Bea, we have decided that we are not minimalists, but I (more so that himself) want to own less stuff, so this year, I would like to divest myself of  my things in our lives that I don’t use, don’t have solid plans for or don’t like. When I buy things, they are to be the right things, preferably second hand or homemade things that will last a long time. I have made a list of the purchases/ things I need to make this year or next that will be the right things for our somewhat pared down, more plastic free lives.

Areas that I will be working on to become more zero waste:
Buy bamboo toothbrushes next time I need to buy toothbrushes
Look for a BB cream that comes in glass next time I need to buy that
Perhaps make mascara as per Bea’s instructions in her book when I next feel inclined to buy the stuff
Work towards creating a bulk buy group in my area
Get back to making my own yoghurt especially now that I have discovered porridge bread
Ask online sellers to only send items in paper or cardboard
Make a few fabric and net baggies to facilitate buying loose nuts, veggies, pulses, rice, etc
Look for plastic free dishwasher detergent that doesn’t cost a fortune
Make/ buy beeswax wrap for buying cheese in and as a substitute for cling film
Find a place to buy dry catfood in cardboard or from a bulk supplier
Limescale cleaner for the toilet

Bea pointed out that because they have all the stuff that they need (not much stuff at all) it leaves them as a family with more time (not looking after stuff) and money with which to pursue experiences such as sky diving and interesting holidays. The gifts that they give each other are the gifts of experiences, not gifts of stuff. Please check out her website for more information on how to live well and create less waste. If you are interested in a zero waste lifestyle, and are looking for support, join the Facebook group Zero Waste Ireland. This is a very active (over 4000 members)  Facebook group that are a great resource.