It should come as no surprise I’m reviewing Bea Johnson’s book, given every Wednesday is devoted to my attempts at getting my (landfill) waste down to zero.
I’ve known about Bea and her blog for a while – I can’t pinpoint exactly when. I have had many weeks visiting with no new content, so it was at least since last (northern hemisphere’s) summer. To be honest, it’s sad she doesn’t post as often now, and the old posts are often closed for commenting. I’ll get to that later, back to the book.
I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t feel like I learnt too much. I’d hoped there’d be some ground breaking changes I could make, but I think I have most of the solutions in my head, even if I’m not implementing them just yet.
Bea’s family has had to adjust to a changed diet to meet the zero waste initiative. She doesn’t really talk about these compromises to make to get to zero waste. Whilst she shares that it’s healthier, I still struggle to find zero waste options for things like puff pastry. I could go without, but I don’t want to, and I know I can make it, but it is too hard. I wonder what things the family now goes without. I suppose those are excuses – but then Bea decided to opt out of DIY yoghurt too, and thankfully has sourced it in glass – something I know is common in France, rarer in the US and almost non existent in Australia.
I was also surprised, not by her international travel (seeing my veiws align with hers – travel is crucial and will never be zero waste, at least not from a carbon emission point of view), I was surprised that her simplified life still contained a clothes dryer and a dishwasher. The clothes dryer is surprising when you consider how she explains the temperate climate they enjoy and makes her life simple with a capsule wardrobe. Even in extreme climates, the central heating helps dry things on racks. Definitely a moment where I thought ‘wow, something I do that Bea doesn’t’ and patted myself on the back. (I didn’t own a dryer in the loft, now the owners have one for us here, and seeing I can’t dry sheets any other way… I’ve gone over to the dark side for the sheets only).
The book didn’t go into as much detail as I expected about her simplification and decluttering. I think the process of getting rid of possessions, and getting her house to the sleek look it has, surely came with some struggles. I’m sure readers would have loved to hear more about this (I would have!) And more empathy with the ‘recycle’ component with giving away and thrifting items (even though refuse and reuse come first). Which also begs the question – where is the line between reuse and recycle – when do you thrift something and when do you keep it, thinking it’ll get used ‘some day’. Maybe the journey is covered more in her archives?
Now, to her zero waste blog: It drives me nuts that I can’t actually ‘search’ her blog to find the ‘start’ of the journey (or what she does with a certain hiccup in my route to zerowaste). There is a tag cloud, but no ‘in the beginning ..’ Which brings me to the next point:
The answer to a lot of questions on her Facebook stream is to suggest the topic is covered in the book. Now, to me, selling a book isn’t a wastefree proposition (which she acknowledges, and opted for phote free to use less chemicals, as well as an e version). I’d been awaiting the book’s arrival at my local library, until a very kind reader (with her own lovely blog Living Simply Free) offered to send me her copy. I am eternally grateful, as the book is still not in the library! But of course, now I forget some of my relevant questions to look them up in the book! Sigh… I should have listed them
Am I too harsh? Was I expecting too much? I probably couldn’t write a better book – and a lot of the content is somewhat country specific, which might explain why it’s not yet in Australia (as far as I know). Would anyone like me to pass the book along to them?