She also discovered some strange habits that we have. In a typical closet we wear 20% of the clothes all the time, and the other 80% are ‘in case clothes’ (in case we are invited to a wedding, we have an interview, we finally lose that weight, etc). Bea only has full-time clothes, she donated all of her “80% clothes”. Now, she can fit her entire wardrobe in a backpack. That is especially handy when she travels, as she took her whole wardrobe with her on tour.

Another strange habit that many of us have is that we hold on too much things for our kids (books from our childhood, extra toys, etc). When Bea moved to her new house, she realized that many of the boxes of toys that came with the move were never opened after a year of having lived in the new place. She told her two young boys that they could only chose a few special toys to keep, and that the rest of the toys that they didn’t play with would be donated to charity. The boys chose to keep their Lego & action figures, and when then outgrew them, they sold them and made money to buy toys new to them, more age-appropriate.
An added bonus was that having fewer toys reduced the fights that would happen when it was time to clean-up. In addition, less stuff allowed the children to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Bea also went through her own personal items. She realized that the packaging from her toiletries and makeup was impossible to reuse or recycle. She thus go to work researching how to make her own beauty products using her own containers. Again, she found additional benefits: when she bought mascara, she got pink eye twice a year. Once she started making her own, it never happened again.

When its time for grocery shopping, she does her shopping with a kit (glass jars, empty egg carton, string fruit bags, and bags for vrac). She insists that we learn new habits: if you forget your bags going to the store, don’t say ‘its okay this time to take plastic bags’ or you will never learn. According to Bea, go back to the car, or even all the way back home and after one or two times, you will never forget your reusable bags again!
Bea says that she favours stores which allow her to use her own containers. When she same to Montreal, she was surprised to learn that Bulk Barn did not allow shoppers to bring their own containers. Since Bea visited them, the president was convinced and now you can bring your own containers as of February 2017!

Bea encourages each of us to adopt a zero waste lifestyle. Her 5 tricks include:

1. Follow the 5 rules in order (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, compost);
2. Read her Zero Waste book;
3. See for solutions;
4. Buying is voting (if you buy packaging, you love packaging. eating out is also voting). Speak up or nothing will change;
5. Join the international community of zero wasters.

Even though I am already extremely conscious of everything that I produce, Bea’s talk caused me to re-evaluate my waste. I’m sure that I will find some of my own tricks to share with you in the new year.

Zero waste is definitely the new in thing. In early October 2017, Montreal had hosted its first ever zero waste festival in Montreal. Along with Bea’s sold-out conference, zero-waste bloggers, and many new zero waste stores popping up, I feel that we are starting to notice a trend. Thank goodness, this is a trend that can only be beneficial for the planet!

By Nikki Schiebel