Shockingly, Canada leads the developed world in per capita production of garbage. And, perhaps more alarming, according to Myra Hird, Professor of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University, our production is seven percent higher than per capita output of waste in the United States, which all but invented consumer excess. With stats like that, many Canadians are looking for a change. Bea Johnson, the Queen of zero waste (zerowastehome.com) may just have the answer.

Bea and her family of four have reduced their annual waste dramatically; all their waste for an entire year can fit into a mason jar. Impossible? It may seem so but her radical minimalist lifestyle may not be that far-fetched. Her philosophy is built on three basic pillars:

1. Eliminate Single Use Items

Keeping an open mind to the alternatives is key to step one. It’s not about recycling more; it’s actually about recycling less. Recycling helps but is not the answer. It only helps to clear the conscience, regardless of what actually happens after it’s picked up curbside.

2. Buy Without Packaging

How is this even possible? Well, for starters buying second-hand items. Marketers want us to buy and replace at record levels, so many second-hand items are relatively unused. Bookshelves are tossed because they don’t match the new sofa, shoes are unworn because buckles are now faux pas. Kijiji is bursting with unfound treasures. And, of course, this also means buying in bulk. Bulk is exploding right now. More and more shops are allowing shoppers to bring in reusable containers to pick up their goods.

3. Stop Accepting Freebies

Promotional items are prolific! Take business cards, for example, if you call a plumber, often the first thing they do when you open the front door is hand you a business card. It’s a bit redundant. You already have their number and a quick search online will retrieve it if you lose it. So, don’t accept that little piece of cardboard. Accepting is merely condoning a life of endless clutter.

 

Photo by Hermes Rivera