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Reflections On: ‘Live Your Best (Zero Waste) Life!’ - An Evening With Bea Johnson

By: Maddie Onstott

In October of 2019, Khala and Company and other local businesses that 'walk the walk' when it comes to following their commitment to sustainability gathered together to host zero-waste expert Bea Johnson for an evening at eTown Hall in Boulder, Colorado.

Bea Johnson is the author of the book Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste and is deemed “The mother of the zero-waste lifestyle movement” by CNN. Bea came through town as part of a tour across the U.S. to visit businesses that encourage customers to reduce their waste. In Boulder, she visited Khala & Co., Eco-Cycle, Earth Hero, Art Parts, and Refill Revolution to check out their workspaces and chat about all things zero-waste!

Bea Johnson tour flyer

A Night to Remember

As a part of the Khala and Company team, I had the honor of attending the event. Listening to Bea’s presentation, I was able to brush up on my knowledge about different zero-waste habits as well as learn a few new tips!

One takeaway to keep in mind is her 5 step zero-waste methodology: Refuse > Reduce > Reuse > Recycle > Rot (Compost). We all know the traditional ‘3 R’s’, but I appreciate Bea’s 5 steps in particular because they don't stop at recycling and instead cover all the bases. This is important especially because I understand that recycling is not the solution to our world's growing waste problem. 

I respected Bea’s straightforwardness when it came to being frank about the trial and error experiences she went through while testing out many different DIY plastic-free make-up recipes.

In addition to that, she was honest about the fact that how she lives her personal zero-waste lifestyle may not be an exact fit for someone else trying to reduce their waste. She was incredibly inviting to all people looking to develop more zero-waste habits. I found this refreshing since it can be very overwhelming when trying something new, or having lots of questions you're not comfortable enough to ask. I definitely learned to ask away! 

Brea Johnson at Khala & Co


As my final takeaway from this event, I encourage you to do the best you can with what's available in your area (grocery store, bulk stores, etc.) and research for yourself what works best for your lifestyle. It's about creating waste reducing habits that you can sustain (pardon the pun). Not everyone will feel ready to bring re-usable produce bags to the grocery store, but will feel comfortable bringing their own eKo ties. Some may be ready to switch to a re-usable coffee filter, but not a beeswax wrap; whatever you choose, what matters is that you are reducing waste and the demand for resources from our planet somehow. Sticking to one good habit and working your way up to others is the best way to approach zero waste living, rather than jumping into the deep end and floundering with frustration. If you're struggling, find ways to take little steps!

As Bea says, it should not be a full-time job or overwhelming experience trying to reduce one's waste. Not everyone will be able to adapt to veganism or get rid of household items that hold sentimental value...and you shouldn't have to! 

My two cents? Ask lots of questions and vote with your dollar by supporting local businesses and businesses that really reflect what you believe and support! Start with reflecting on a few small changes you can make in your daily life that will actually make a difference. There are most definitely others out there doing the same!

Remember, a single person can have a huge impact. You just have to be willing to take the first step.