Launching the Global Zero Waste Movement and Building a New Economy


[Jacqui J. Sze Photography]

Have you heard of the term "zero waste lifestyle"? On the latest episode of Green Dreamer, I chat with this global movement's originator, Bea Johnson, whose book "Zero Waste Home" has been translated into over 20 languages, who now speaks around the world about her lifestyle, and who consults with huge corporations like IKEA and has even been contacted by countries looking for help to address their waste issues. What inspired Bea's zero waste lifestyle in the first place? What does it take to inspire global change? And what helped the movement to really take off? Let's dive in.

This is a conversation on Green Dreamer Podcast with Kaméa Chayne, a show exploring environmental and intersectional sustainability from ideas to life. Subscribe to Green Dreamer on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app and let’s learn what it takes to thrive in every sense of the word!


[02:55] "As soon as you adopt the zero waste lifestyle, you realize very quickly that we've been duped."

[03:35] What got Bea to start reducing waste in the first place. 

[05:55] Bea: "[What motivated me to share this was] knowing there was no such guide anywhere out there for people interested in reducing their trash at home." 

[06:45] Kaméa: "What were your hopes when you first started the blog?" 

[08:10] Bea: "[After having a 9-page spread in a magazine with visuals showing our modern, simple way of life based on experiences over things], it shattered people's misconceptions of waste-free living… and that's really when the movement started taking off." 

[09:10] Kaméa: "What do you do to encourage people to take their first steps?" 

[10:25] Bea: "When you buy something that is packaged, 15% of the price or more covers the cost of the packaging.

[10:55] Bea: "What you discover is a richer life based on experiences instead of things… a life based on being rather than having." 

[11:45] Bea: "I'm not there to tell anyone how to live their lives - I have no right on that. I'm just here to talk about my journey and what I discovered." 

[12:10] Bea shares the most powerful appeal of zero waste living. 

[14:00] Kaméa: "How do you find peace knowing the world is still so wasteful?" 

[14:35] Bea: "When you adopt a zero waste lifestyle, there comes a point when automatically you start being angry at the trash being generated." 

[15:10] Bea: "Today we produce one jar of trash per year for our family of four."

[16:05] Kaméa: "What did you do that was essential to growing this into a global movement?" 

[16:35] Bea: "[It's important to] talk about the challenges you encounter, because someone else is going through the exact same problems." 

[19:15] Kaméa: "With corporate America being driven by consumerism, what do you think is needed for us to reduce consumption but at the same time thrive economically?" 

[21:35] Bea: "IKEA contacted me. They wanted my input on the products in their stores and materials that zero wasters favor." 

[22:40] Bea: "Buying is voting. Every time you buy something, you have the power to support a practice that is either sustainable or not."   


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Final Tips

Words of inspiration: "I'm doing this for my children." 

Green tip: "Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot - only in that order." 

Element of hope: "People are showing throughout the world that [zero waste living] is doable anywhere." 

Words of wisdom: "Be the change you want to see in this world - quote from Gandhi." 


Two Takeaways