Green Drinks: Bea Johnson and the Zero Waste Movement

  Bea Johnson with a year’s worth of waste for her family of 4

Bea Johnson with a year’s worth of waste for her family of 4


On 19th Dec, Green Drinks hosted Bea Johnson, deemed the mother of the zero waste movement. She doesn’t claim to be the most sustainable person on the planet, and yes, she still uses (recycled) toilet paper, but her entire family’s waste in a YEAR fits into a SINGLE glass jar. She shares about how each of us can take a step towards a zero waste life.

What about waste?

We live in a world where marketers have been innovative in creating categories, which means we are buying more products, many of which we don’t need. Not only is this cluttering up our lives, many of these products end up as waste. Many of the plastics we use, for example, when not disposed or handled properly, can leach toxic chemicals. Each time we choose to use a packaged product, we are “voting” - “voting” for more unnecessary packaging.

Why should I care?

Because leading a zero waste life is not only good for the environment, it's also good for our health and wallet! You avoid the toxins from packaging that could leach into our products, you save money because you’re buying in bulk and finding non-disposables solutions. Each time you throw away something you buy, you’re literally throwing away money. Furthermore, packaging typically comprises 15% of a product’s total cost - what a waste!

What can I do?

Bea has an interesting 5 “R”s pyramid that she follows, in the order below:

  1. Refuse: Just say no to stuff you don’t need

  2. Reduce: Declutter, and figure out what you really need!

  3. Reuse: Repair and repurpose

  4. Recycle: Separate and recycle

  5. Rot: Start your own compost bin, or contribute to a community one

There are tons of tips on the zero waste forum on how to get started. Singapore has its very own online community. You might think you won’t impact anything by just being one person, but this is a global movement that’s quickly growing.

In short…

Leading a zero waste life is not just about sustainability, it can also help you declutter, and find out what in your life truly matters. Additionally, the zero waste movement has sprung a community, one that’s beginning to question how we are consuming today.  

Quotable Quotes: 

“People like to put things in garages, things that they like to forget. Things that have a difficulty making decision on.”

“I do not recommend using sausage casing as condoms. They leak.” 

“The point of this lifestyle is to recycle less, by refusing, reducing or reusing instead.”

“Thanks to this lifestyle, we can focus on a life that’s about being, not about having”.



This review is part of the Ugly Tomatoes series by the SSN. We attend interesting environmental events in Singapore with and think critically about how they fit in the larger environmental scene. If you have any suggestions, thoughts, or comments, do let us know at our Facebook or contact page.