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Zero Waste isn’t a challenge, it’s a choice. ~ My conversation with Bea Johnson.

Two years ago this month, I was flying out to California to attend a dear friend’s wedding. (Among other things, I love celebrating love) As per usual I ended up in a conversation at thirty thousand feet with the lady sitting next to me. We will call her Claire for the purposes of this article, and to say I was unprepared for the stickiness of our conversation, would be an enormous understatement.

At the time of our flight I was flying high, both figuratively and literally. I had just finished filming interviews for our upcoming sustainability documentary, and six months prior, had safely completed a cross continent cycling tour. Needless to say, Claire and I had ample subject matter to talk about. (Film Facts available here)

However semi surprisingly, Claire quickly breezed over many of my experts to ask the simplest question of all: ‘Why are you doing all of this Stephen?”

I replied to Claire: “Because I believe something has to change. The objective of SustainableJoes is to simplify sustainability for all ‘Everyday Joes & Jaynes’, and that is why I started the project by living off grid and zero waste.”

Then Claire stated, “What do you mean zero waste?”

I replied, “Well, simply put I challenged myself to create no garbage for the first year of the project. Any garbage I did create, I committed to keeping in my house until the year was complete.” (I know, it sounds a little gross)

“So how much garbage did you create?” asked Claire.

In my most polite tone, integrating a twist of Americana, I replied: “Less than one bag Ma’am.”

Claire immediately replied: “Really Stephen? How? My Husband and I easily create two bags a week!”

Now, by this point in our conversation Claire had mentioned to me that she had two children, so I said, “Claire, what if I told you someone was holding your kids hostage, and the only way to free them was to create no garbage for a week. Do you think you could do it?”

Claire quickly replied: “Absolutely!” And that was the point in our conversation when her facial expression changed. You know the look someone gives during that ‘A’ha’ moment? Well you can imagine that look on forty something Claire from Southern California.

So I replied: “That is exactly how I did it Claire. I realized that zero waste living, and sustainability at large, is not really a challenge, it’s a choice. And when the steaks are high enough… the choice is simple.”

I share this story with you because in this week’s episode of SustainableJoes’ 2084 I had the privilege of speaking with Bea Johnson. A former French Au Pair who came to America at the age of 17 in search of the America dream, and ended up starting a global movement which is quite the contrary.

From the European Parliament to the pages of The New York Times, Bea is a global leader in the space of zero waste living, and the change agent behind the globally celebrated blog, Zero Waste Home.

Some big take aways from this episode include:

• What voluntary simplicity looks like

• The role consumers have to play

• How to live a life with less stuff

• Zero waste fashion

• How do you declutter your life

When you think about the convergence between capitalism, consumerism, and our natural world…This episode is sure to support your journey to save money and have a positive impact on the future.

You can listen to SustainableJoes’ 2084 podcast wherever you get your podcasts. (Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Bunz Podcast Network)

I’d love to know what you think.

Sustainably Yours,



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