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Bea Johnson is zero waste and plastic free

4 min read

EVEN before she started the zero-waste movement Bea Johnson was firmly against plastic.

“I switched to glass way before I started the zero-waste lifestyle,” Ms Johnson told

She has since developed a system for living without creating rubbish, which rejects disposable items in favour of reusable ones.

While plastic can be reusable, Ms Johnson said she chose to live plastic-free.

“Personally I’ve read books on plastic’s impact on the environment and on its impact on people’s health,” she said. “Once I did that there was no way I would continue using those items.”

In particular, Ms Johnson pointed to the presence of BPA (Bisphenol A), a chemical used in the lining of food and drink packaging, including the lining of canned foods, to extend their shelf life.

BPA is an endocrine disrupter that has been linked to breast and prostate cancers, genital defects in males, early onset of puberty in females, obesity and behavioural problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“It’s having a really crazy impact on our society and if you are not aware of this, it’s understandable if you want to continue using it,” Ms Johnson said. “But once you are aware, there’s no way you would continue using them.”

Ms Johnson acknowledged that some people found plastic containers lighter and easier to carry

“Some zero wasters like to use them because they are lighter to carry, that’s their choice,” she said. “It’s up to everyone to live how they wish, I just provide the alternatives that we’ve discovered.”

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Ms Johnson is also not a fan of landfill biodegradable items and points to the findings of archaeologist William L Rathje, who discovered a tub of guacamole that survived pretty much intact, for more than 20 years at the tip.

“He showed that for something to biodegrade there needs to be air and light but in a landfill none of this happens,” Ms Johnson said. “Bags sold as biodegradable, that’s greenwashing. It’s not something that actually happens.”

Instead Ms Johnson chooses to live plastic and waste free by following a system she developed called the five R’s: Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.


The first step is to refuse disposable items such as free plastic bags, straws, promotional mail, free pens from conferences or even party favours at a children’s party.

“We are pounded by these ‘free’ items but every time we accept them, we create demand to make more,” Ms Johnson said. “They add to the clutter in your home and also add to the trash problem.”

Instead she has developed polite ways to react when people offer her these things.

“I say ‘no thanks, that’s very nice of you but I don’t need it’, or ‘I’m a minimalist’. We’ve found sentences that have worked for us, to try not to be a robot in accepting things.”


“We only buy what needs to be replaced, so if a sneaker has a hole in it, we buy a second-hand replacement,” Ms Johnson said.

“You will not see scanners, cameras or alarm clocks in my house. We don’t wear the latest Apple watch, or have CDs or DVD players.

“A lot of electronics that people tend to have, we don’t, because we realised we don’t need it.”

Ms Johnson said she had donated the items she previously had so other people could make use of them.

“That’s the beauty of letting go. You make them available to the community and it boosts the second-hand market, which is important for the future of zero waste,” she said.

Since embracing the zero-waste lifestyle, her family now consumes a lot less than before.

“When we went on a trip before we used to bring back souvenirs, when my mother came to visit we would go shopping. These activities had become hobbies and we were automatically drawn to purchasing things,” Ms Johnson said.

“We are now spending on activities and moments, and that’s what makes our life richer. It strengthens our bonds with family and friends.”


Living zero waste also means not using disposable items. Ms Johnson has swapped out paper towels for rags and uses handkerchiefs instead of boxes of tissues.

“You’re literally throwing your money away,” she said of most people’s attachment to disposable items.

Her book Zero Waste Home has many tips for how to replace disposable items such as razors, water bottles, menstrual products and plastic bags.

RELATED: What I learned from trying to live zero waste for a year


Recycling is important but Ms Johnson does not think it’s the answer to being zero waste, which is why is comes after refuse, reduce and reuse.

“Firstly people have to recognise something as being recyclable and put it in the right (recycling) bin,” she said. “Then it may be turned into an item that is no longer recyclable.”

While metal and glass can be recycled pretty much endlessly, plastic is usually ‘downcycled’ into something like a park bench. Beyond that, it can’t be recycled again.

“These are the reasons why I favour glass … and I chose metal, which I can recycle,” she said.

When her smartphone breaks she takes it to a repair shop and if they can’t fix it, she sells it to them for the parts straight away.

“If we hang on to it for 15 years, there’s no demand for the parts.”


Food waste is something that zero wasters try to avoid, which is partly what makes the lifestyle cheaper for many. Anything that is left over, is composted so it doesn’t go to landfill.

Bea Johnson began her tour speaking at The Source Bulk Foods on Thursday, July 12 in Sydney, and will be speaking in Melbourne on July 13, in Adelaide on July 15 and Brisbane on July 17.

[email protected] | @charischang2

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Dad called a ‘paedophile’ over this photo in offensive online slur

2 min read

IT WAS one of those precious and intimate moments captured on camera between a father his and newborn bub that would be cherished forever:

Sean looking adoringly into his six-week-old baby girl’s eyes to give her a sweet little kiss on the lips just before she has a bath.

The smitten dad loved the photo so much that he put it as profile picture on Facebook to show the beautiful connection between him and his tiny little Bella.

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But shockingly, one woman in a Facebook group where Sean commented on a post was so offended by the photo that she bombarded Sean with the most inappropriate, obscene and unnecessary remarks.

“She said that he was a pedo and ‘what father kisses his daughter on the lips?’ She said she was calling DOCS (now Family and Community Services) so he can’t molest his daughter anymore — and was constantly calling him a child rapist and paedophile,” his partner Christal tells Kidspot.

“The picture has been Sean’s cover photo since that photo was taken as that is his favourite picture and he always has himself and Bella in all profile pictures so she went into his profile and screenshotted the picture and posted it saying he was a paedophile.”


In utter disbelief — Christal and Sean felt a whole whirlwind of emotions from the bizarre and hurtful comments.

“I felt angry at first, I have never had anyone call him that or even imply that and Sean was crying — so I knew he took what she was saying to heart,” she says.

“This also got me very confused — how can a father kissing his daughter at six weeks old before she got in the bath be a pedo?

“I then felt sad to think that someone would think that and it made me question if others felt the same about the photo and if I was just seeing at as beautiful when it was inappropriate to others.

“So the mum-of-one decided to share the image in a mums group to get their views and received an overwhelmingly positive reaction.

“I felt relieved and happy that the mums were on my side and that they were on the same page as me.”

However, sadly, the women admitted that many of their male partners wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing such an intimate moment on social media.

“I would never have looked at it in a negative way and as the woman who said the negative things was a mother, I wanted to see if it was seen by others as just a beautiful picture,” Christal explains.

“But I was surprised at how many mums said their partners wouldn’t share these moments due to these kind of negative reactions.

“I know many fathers that are scared of this reaction.”

It upsets Christal that fathers feel they can’t be as openly affectionate with their children in public as mothers so easily do.

“I know many fathers that are scared of this reaction — yet I don’t know any mothers who are. I feel this is why men are scared to change nappies or kiss their child in public,” she says.

“It honestly hurts to think that men won’t post pictures or do things in public because of someone assuming things to be sinister instead of what it really is.

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Australians don’t realise ambulances aren’t free

1 min read

IF YOU didn’t know ambulances weren’t free in Australia, don’t worry — you’re not alone.

New research from Finder has found that almost a third of Australians wrongly believe ambulances are totally covered by Medicare.

The findings, which came from a survey of 2085 Australians, found that 30 per cent believe ambulance costs are subsided wholly by the government.

In reality, getting an ambulance can be a costly experience if you don’t have a concession or health card.

In Australia, the cost of calling an ambulance without one of these cards differs by state.

In Queensland and Tasmania, ambulances are subsidised in full by their state governments — although these don’t fall under Medicare.

But other states they can be surprisingly costly.

In rural Victoria, it costs $1776 to call an ambulance for an emergency — and $1204 for non-rural parts. In Western Australia it costs $967.

South Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Canberra charge both a call-out fee and a per-kilometre rate.

In South Australia it’s $976 for an emergency, then $5.60 per kilometre.

In the Northern Territory, it’s $790 for a call-out, then $5.10 per kilometre.

NSW & ACT are notably cheaper — at $372 for an emergency, plus $3.35 per kilometre.

In NSW, residents who use emergency ambulance services are charged 51 per cent of the actual cost and receive a State Government subsidy of 49 per cent for the remainder.

“This research shows that many Australians think that, like other essential medical expenses, the cost of using ambulance transport is covered by Medicare. Unfortunately, this isn’t true,” said Finder Health Insurance Expert Bessie Hassan.

“Most insurance providers will offer a form of Ambulance cover but much like differences between the states, this can vary significantly between insurers.

“If you aren’t sure whether you are covered by your private health policy, it is usually listed under extras or sometimes as a stand-alone policy. It might also specify whether it is for emergency only or all ambulance use.”

The research also found it was mostly younger generations who were confused by the costs, with 47 per cent of Gen Z and a third of Gen Y believing it was free under Medicare.

Of the states who had to pay, people in New South Wales and Victoria were most confused about the costs.

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A customer was yelled at and jailed for groping waitress

0 min read

THIS is the moment a furious waitress body slammed a customer in a crowded restaurant — for grabbing her bum as he walked past.

CCTV footage shows Emelia Holden, 21, sorting through a pile of menus at Vinnie Van Go-Go’s in Savannah, Georgia, when the perv gropes her on his way out, reportsthe Sun.

But brave Emelia immediately turned to grab him by the scruff of his neck — before throwing him against a wall with one arm.

She then berates him in front of other customers before telling co-workers to call the police.

The customer was hauled off in cuffs after cops reviewed CCTV footage.

Emelia said: “I just did what I felt was best. I took the guy down and had my co-workers call the police.

“As soon as the cops saw the CCTV footage, they immediately arrested the man. He sat in jail until Monday so in my opinion, he got what he deserved.

“All that I want from my experiences is for women to know that it’s OK to stand up for yourself.

“You have every right to wear what you want and you most certainly have every right to defend yourself.”

This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished here with permission.

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