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  • MALE SPEAKER: Thanks everybody for coming to this Google

  • Author Series talk.

  • I want to have the esteemed privilege

  • to introduce Bea Johnson, author of "Zero Waste Home."

  • Bea, she's lived a waste-free lifestyle since 2008,

  • generating for her whole family just a quart

  • of waste in an entire year.

  • She's also zero waste lifestyle expert.

  • Her goals shatter the misconceptions

  • associated with living in zero-waste lifestyle proving

  • that a waste-free living can not only be stylish but lead

  • to significant health benefits and time and money savings.

  • She was a grand prize winner of the green awards.

  • She's invited to speak, like here, at many corporate events,

  • universities, and other conferences all over the world.

  • And she spreads her tips for living a zero-waste lifestyle

  • in that.

  • She opens her home to educational tours

  • and the media.

  • I know [? Myomi ?] has been to her house,

  • has been shopping with her at Whole Foods to see how she does

  • this.

  • She's appeared on TV shows and publications around the world,

  • including the "Today Show" and the "BBC Breakfast."

  • New York Times has called her the priestess

  • of waste-free living.

  • I like that one.

  • As a spokesperson for a zero-waste lifestyle,

  • she also provides consulting services

  • for sustainable product conception, waste reduction,

  • and minimalism.

  • Welcome Bea.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • BEA JOHNSON: Thanks so much for having me.

  • It's so funny that I have been calling myself a Google girl,

  • and here I am today at Google.

  • So first, let me introduce my family.

  • And so this is my family.

  • On the right, we have Max who's now 15,

  • Leo, on the left, who is now 14, my husband, Scott,

  • and our zero-waste dog, Zizu, is actually the mascot

  • of our zero-waste lifestyle.

  • So yeah, it's the little baby of the family.

  • Anyways, our zero-waste journey started back in 2006.

  • We were living back then in a large home, 3,000 square feet

  • in the suburbs in the East Bay actually in Pleasant Hill.

  • But that house was located in a cul-de-sac.

  • And the problem with that is that we felt that we

  • had to drive everywhere.

  • We had to take the car to go to the grocery

  • store, the schools, church, and movie theaters, and so on.

  • So we decided that we wanted to relocate to a location

  • where we could have these things within walking distance

  • or biking distance.

  • So we chose the town of Mill Valley.

  • But before finding the ideal home,

  • we rented an apartment for a year.

  • And we only moved in with the necessities.

  • So instead of moving in with fork tables and 26 chairs,

  • we only moved in with one table, four chairs, one set of dishes,

  • one set of towels, et cetera.

  • And what we found during that year

  • is that by living with less, all of a sudden,

  • we had more time in our hands to do the things that we enjoy

  • doing, more time to spend with family and friends, more time

  • to explore a new coast or region.

  • So when we did find the ideal home in downtown Mill Valley,

  • we got everything out of storage.

  • And we realized that a lot of the things that we

  • had kept in there for a year are totally gone and missed.

  • We realized that there were a bunch of things in there

  • that we hadn't even needed or even missed.

  • And so we got everything out of storage

  • and questioned ourselves about all the stuff

  • we had, and we let go of about 80% of our belongings.

  • And then thanks to that voluntary simplicity,

  • that also opened more time to educate ourselves

  • on environmental issues.

  • So this was back in 2007.

  • We read some books.

  • We watched some documentaries.

  • And what we discovered with my husband really

  • made us sad thinking about the future

  • that we are going to leave behind for our kids.

  • So we decided to do something about it.

  • So my husband quit his job to start a sustainability

  • consulting company.

  • And I tackled the home.

  • So I got super motivated at first.

  • And there is lots of things that I tried.

  • I googled a lot of alternatives.

  • And some of the things that we discovered we still

  • do today such as canning.

  • This is actually canning season.

  • I have how-to's on my blog.

  • So on Saturday, I'll be buying a bunch of flats--

  • I mean a flat of tomatoes.

  • And then I'll be canning it for the year.

  • It's not like I can all year long, or all day.

  • I just can once a year for the rest of the year.

  • But anyways, some other alternatives that we tried

  • did not quite work out for us.

  • So I had heard about the [INAUDIBLE]

  • option of shampooing your hair.

  • And so I thought, oh maybe that will be

  • a good alternative to shampoo.

  • And so what that involves is using

  • baking soda in lieu of shampoo.

  • You're supposed to wet your hair,

  • sprinkle baking soda on your scalp, you massage it in,

  • and then you rinse with apple cider vinegar.

  • Now after six months, the oils of my hair

  • had migrated down to here, and I ended up with frizzy ends.

  • Not really the look I was looking for.

  • And when I went to lay down next to my husband

  • after those six months, he looked at me and he said,

  • I am just so tired of you smelling like vinaigrette, Bea.

  • It's really not sexy.

  • So I thought, yeah, maybe he has a point there.

  • I need to find another alternative.

  • And I did.

  • It's not shampoo.

  • I'll mention it later.

  • But I picked another alternative.

  • I also came to look at my cosmetic pouch at one point.

  • And I wanted a greener alternative, or at least

  • a zero-waste alternative for all the items that I had in there.

  • So I took my cosmetic pouch to a green pharmacy.

  • And I asked the sales person to give me

  • an alternative or a product for all the things I had in there.

  • She said, I have a mascara for you.

  • I have different types of makeup for you.

  • But I don't have an alternative for a lip plumper.

  • So for the guys that are here that don't know what

  • a lip plumper is, it's a glass that

  • has an ingredient in it that's supposed

  • to make your lips bigger.

  • Doesn't make it bigger.

  • I've actually taken a ruler and measured the before and after.

  • It doesn't really make them bigger,

  • but it makes you feel like they are bigger.

  • So since she didn't have an alternative for me, of course,

  • I googled it.

  • Alternative to or green way to make your lips bigger.

  • And I found this video of this beautiful woman

  • on YouTube, a woman that had lips a bit like Angelina Jolie,

  • like really nice and [INAUDIBLE].

  • And I thought, well, perfect.

  • That's what I need.

  • And she said, it's very simple.

  • All you need to do is gather some stinging nettle,

  • you remove the leaves, and then you roll the twig on your lips.

  • And I thought, uh, how simple that is.

  • I have a bunch of stinging nettle in my backyard.

  • So I put on some gloves, and I hiked up my hill

  • because we're on a hill.

  • And I grabbed a bunch of stinging nettle, brought it

  • back down to my kitchen, I removed the leaves carefully,

  • and then I rolled the twig on my lips.

  • OMG, did it hurt!

  • Of course, it did not at all provide

  • the results I was expecting.

  • And not like the video, I ended up with blotches, red bumps all

  • over the place.

  • Not very sexy, or not very much the look

  • I was looking for again.

  • And of course, that's when my husband came home from work.

  • And he looked at me, and said, oh my gosh.

  • What did you do again, Bea?

  • And I said, eh, just trying out something.

  • Don't worry about it.

  • We also came to question our use for toilet paper.

  • So at that point I was taking a foraging class.

  • And once we were in the forest.

  • And my teacher said, well, if you guys are ever

  • stuck in the woods with no toilet paper, that

  • moss out there is awesome.

  • I thought there Is my alternative to toilet paper.

  • So I grabbed some and took it home, but-- but moss, FYI,

  • it dries over time.

  • So the first day it might be soft,

  • but the next day, you're basically

  • left with a scouring pad.

  • Not very pleasant.

  • So we decided to forego that idea.

  • And instead, we decided to stick to toilet paper.

  • It's 100% recycled.

  • We buy it from a restaurants and hotel supply store

  • because we can buy it wrapped in paper.

  • We don't have to worry about the plastic packaging.

  • So after all this trial and error, we found balance.

  • And we found that for zero-waste to be truly

  • sustainable in our home, we simply

  • had to follow five rules in order.

  • It was all of it simply about refusing, reducing, reusing,

  • recycling, and rotting in order so

  • that at the end of the year-- sorry

  • I disappeared there-- we're left with one jar of waste.

  • So this basically represents our family's waste for the year.

  • This one is 2014.

  • So the first rule then that we apply is we simply refuse.

  • We simply say no to the things that we do not need.

  • We say no to single-use plastics--

  • plastic bags, water bottles.

  • But we also say no to freebies.

  • For today, in this consumerist society,

  • we're the target of many marketing goods.

  • But every time we accept them, it's

  • a way for us to reinforce an unsustainable practice.

  • Every time we take a free plastic pen from a conference

  • that we do not need-- because I think

  • everyone has enough pens in their homes

  • to last them a lifetime-- every time

  • we accept one of those pens, then

  • more oil will be drilled from the ground

  • to create a replacement.

  • Same goes with junk mail, every time

  • we take junk mail straight from the mailbox

  • and put it in a recycling bin, it's a way for us to say,

  • love junk mail.

  • Please send me more.

  • And more will be sent out to us.

  • So it's important to say no to these things

  • to simply stop the demand.

  • We also say no to business cards.

  • So don't try to give me your business card later.

  • I'll have my contact info at the end of the presentation.

  • Our second rule is to reduce.

  • So I'm sorry the slide is so light.

  • So we reduce what we do need.

  • So that means for us living a minimalist lifestyle.

  • So in our kitchen, for example, as you can see

  • the counters are pretty bare.

  • But I love it that way.

  • It's actually much easier to clean-- much faster to clean.

  • I used to have next to my stove a jar filled with accessories

  • and different types of spoons until I realized that I only

  • have two hands.

  • I only use one spoon at a time.

  • I don't need the 10 of the same spoon.

  • So today I've downsized to the true accessories that I need.

  • Same goes for underneath my sink.

  • Underneath my sink in the old days

  • was filled with products-- toxic products-- products

  • that the marketers told me I needed

  • for different applications.

  • They tell us that to clean the floor we need a product,

  • to clean a window is a different product, to clean your bathroom

  • a different product, the kitchen a different product.

  • This is all BS.

  • I found that we can clean the whole house simply

  • with a spray mixed with water and vinegar.

  • And we use castile soap also that we purchase in bulk.

  • In a pump at the sink, we use it to wash our hands,