Category Archives: Loop Tribe Featured

Bea Johnson with husband Scott at their home in California

Bea Johnson – Zero Waste Pioneer

Interview with Bea Johnson

Anyone with an interest in zero waste needs no introduction to Bea Johnson.

Pioneer of the modern zero waste movement, this French mum based in California created an incredible impact on thousands of people and countries around the world. Her bestselling book Zero Waste Home, published in 2013, has been translated into 19 languages, with the term ‘zero waste’ becoming a new norm.

Bea’s journey to a zero waste lifestyle back in 2008, transformed her into an expert and advocate for sustainability, a speaker at high level events across the Globe, and an inspiration for many people. In a Skype interview with LoopUnite!, Bea shared her thoughts on the movement, the latest updates and gives advice for policy makers seeking efficient ways of waste management on a large scale.

Q. It’s only been a few years since the first release of your book. How do you evaluate your impact and massive following around the World?

A. Our first media appearance dates back to 2010. The New York Times published an article [in which Bea was dubbed the Priestess of Waste-Free Living], where our family was featured as an example of a modern, but simple lifestyle. We discovered our simple life when we, as a family, embarked on a zero waste journey. Our two children were the key motivation for our lifestyle change, but we didn’t look too far. Now I can publicly say that we inspired the Global movement. How far did it go? Thousands of people around the World switched to sustainable living, they published hundreds of blogs, and created zero waste related businesses. Eight bulk buying stores – meaning zero packaging – were opened in Montreal after I had spoken there. Five similar stores were opened in Dublin and Cape Town. We proved that going zero waste is doable anywhere in the World.

Q. How did your personal and professional life change?

A. I used to work as an artist specialising in auctions. Then I discovered that zero waste also allows me to express creativity, and it transforms how I approach my art. Making meals from leftovers encourages you to be inventive. Same with the household: DIY products require a lot of creativity. Later I discovered that every household is more or less the same with repetitive patterns. This is how the idea of my book was born. I put together the system for creating a zero waste home. It also inspired me to help those who wanted to launch their stores.

Q. Has the World become more sustainable in the recent years? What now needs to be done urgently?

A. It definitely varies from country to country. Some have managed to be able to separate waste, while others need to change their policies and make it easier for their citizens to live sustainably. If I had to advise on the main steps for a country to go zero waste, they’d be the following:

  • Abolish incinerators if you have them. Having them enables destruction of resources; these machines need to be fed for years, but they don’t completely filter toxics.
  • Reduce the waste – ban all single-use products.
  • Pay for throwing away the rubbish and enable reuse of the discarded waste.
  • Build convenient drop off locations for discarded materials.

 

Photo credit: Zona Foto/Coleman-Rayner

You can discover more about Bea and follow her blog on her website here.

Claire Sancelot holding up her waste bins

That Zero Waste Moment

Interview with Claire Sancelot

Claire Sancelot is a powerful mompreneur and the first Hong Kong zero waster. Her blog Zero Waste Hong Kong has inspired and equipped hundreds of people to switch to a sustainable lifestyle in our city. She moved to Malaysia in 2015, but her blog continues to be a very useful source of lifehacks customised to Hong Kong realities.

Q. Why did you decide to start a zero waste lifestyle, given the very limited opportunities back in 2013?

A. Oh, it was quite an obvious decision. We were a typical expat family, with a dog. Then we had our first child, then the twins. Eventually, we hired a live-in helper and we found ourselves surrounded by clutter. Our house was a quite messy place to live, where most of the rubbish came from plastic bottles, nappies and paper tissues. My husband and I realised we couldn’t live like that anymore and embarked on a zero waste lifestyle.

Q. How did it happen exactly? Was it easy to start?

A. Well, it definitely didn’t happen overnight. We took it easy, one item at a time. We started with our kitchen and immediately removed all the paper tissues. Textile cloth was the perfect solution and a great money saver! Later, we replaced our plastic bottled water with a filter and again it saved us space and money! We consume at least 10 litres of water per day, just imagine how much it is in bottles.

Q. Sounds quite easy but I imagine you also had a lot of challenges on the way. Besides that, you’re a mom of three very young children!

A. It took us some time to find the best brands and solutions to meet our needs. But my entrepreneurial background helped a lot. Prior to starting zero waste lifestyle, I owned Lulu Hong Kong, city’s first ethical fashion shop. All our products were made in the US and Europe from eco-friendly natural fibres, including our silk products. Unfortunately, I had to close it during my second complicated pregnancy. I never regretted my decision as I’ve got two wonderful twin daughters.

Q. Your entrepreneurial personality however showed itself again – you started a very popular blog. Why?

A.For a very practical reason, really. My friends kept asking me about the tips all the time and I spent hours on emails and chats. So, I just put everything in one place and enjoyed it a lot.

Q. Four years from your first blog entry, how would you evaluate the changes in your life?

A. Going zero waste made us happier and more united as a family. Our house looks much nicer, much tidier and we focus more on experiences rather than possessions. We’re not perfect though, because… well, we are human! Sometimes we do indulge or make mistakes. It happens. But then we move on and do our best to live waste free!

You can discover more at thehivebulkfoods.com. Although based in Malaysia, Claire delivers to Hong Kong.

Read more about Claire and her family via her blog.

 

Image courtesy of South China Morning Post

Plastic-Free in the City

An Interview with: Lisa O’Dell

Lisa O’dell is a Hong Kong mom who made all the main headlines in January after starting a petition on Change.org demanding the local supermarkets to refuse excessive packaging. She gathered over 11,000 signatures and launched Plastic Free Hong Kong to provide sustainable solutions to fight plastic.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

A: I’m originally from Chicago, USA but also have parts of my heart in Colorado and Oregon, where I went to school and discovered my love for nature and the outdoors. In 2009, I decided to check out Hong Kong for a year abroad, but to my surprise, I met my now-husband on my third day here, and the rest is history!  

My background is in real estate and human resources, so starting my own business was definitely a new venture for me, although it was never my intention. It all began very organically and this is how it has continued to evolve. While I was looking for ways to live a more sustainable life and leave less waste in my wake, I realised others were wanting the same thing, but didn’t have access to the right resources. It was then that PFHK was born.

Q: How and when did you start Plastic Free Hong Kong? Was it before or after your famous petition?

A: The idea for PFHK began about a year ago while I was trying to find ways to reduce the daily waste my family was creating. Each time I threw a plastic string of floss in the rubbish or needed to change my plastic toothbrush, I cringed. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Through this process of cleansing my home of as much plastic waste as I could, I saw there was a huge need and demand for more accessibility to sustainable resources for one’s home and beyond, and that there were many people just like myself wanted to make massive change.

It was then I decided to fill that need, and it has organically grown from there. Our aim is to provide a sustainable alternative to every disposable plastic item found within our day to day lives. Waste-free living is a lifestyle choice and affects us everywhere we go.

Q: How do you evaluate the petition’s success? Was it the main call to start the e-commerce platform?

A: I started the petition for two reasons. Primarily, I was so disgusted by all of the unnecessary plastic waste in most grocery stores and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I also wanted to see how easy it could be to make change happen. I had the thought “There’s nothing to lose. I’ll try to bring attention to this issue and see if real change can come”. In order for things to change, someone has to decide to start somewhere, and so, I made the choice to try.

My goal was to obtain 100,000 signatures to show Hong Kong’s decision makers on this issue that many of us feel the same way.  If the petition had garnered that many, I think I would have deemed it an absolute success.  Regardless, even though we only reached 10% of that goal, things were accomplished and I believe our voice was definitely heard by many. The press got involved and we were able to speak to CitySuper face-to-face and see some changes implemented.

Q: Why are you doing it? What’s your ultimate goal?

A: My goals for PFHK are to bring awareness and accessibility. I want the people of HK and beyond to become of aware of the damage plastic waste is doing to our gorgeous planet, and potentially, even the impact on our own health. Only through awareness and education does change come. We also want to create accessibility to a more sustainable life for those who want one.

Q: What are your future plans? How do you see yourself in a couple of years?

A: I definitely want to continue growing PFHK and hope to expand our reach into other countries.  My main vision is for Asia, as I feel there is so much work to be done here in regards to waste and sustainability.  At times the road to waste-free living seems so impossible. However, I do believe it’s not too late to turn things around, which makes the journey an exciting one as well, and one I’m very honoured to be taking.