Zero-waste speaker coming to Sidney

Béa Johnson can fit a year’s worth of trash into a mason jar

Zero-waste advocate Béa Johnson has presented at the UN, EU Parliament, and Google, and she is coming to Sidney and Victoria on Friday and Saturday.

Johnson is most famous for fitting a year’s worth of waste from her family into a mason jar. This was inspiring to Patrick Schörle, the Sidney realtor who had a part in bringing her to the Island.

Schörle first began thinking about reducing waste when he and his wife welcomed their first child three years ago.

“When you have a kid, the first thing you think about is dirty diapers,” said Schörle. A disposable diaper can last for hundreds of years in landfill without decomposing, so he looked for alternatives.

“My wife, Stephanie, said to me, ‘Well, maybe we can try the cloth diaper thing,’ and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

After some hesitation, he did some research and found out that reusable diapers aren’t anything like they used to be, and he said they were cheaper over time than buying disposable ones.

Given her popularity, Johnson was not an easy speaker to book. However, Schörle and his wife were at Sidney Market when he saw Johnson’s book at a stall. He struck up a conversation with the proprietors, Nairn Flucker and his wife Paula, who run The Burlap Shoe, an e-commerce site dedicated to reducing single-use items like plastic wrap and toothbrushes. The couple had made contact with Johnson, and so they co-operated.

Schörle said the issue of waste is particularly relevant given that Hartland landfill is estimated to be unusable in 32 years. Besides identifying new landfill sites or expanding the current one, Schörle said that “waste reduction is very crucial to that conversation.”

Schörle is interested in preserving the natural beauty of the Peninsula and his office does their part by eliminating paper towels and using electronic documents. He said Johnson’s high-profile appearances at businesses is promising for the cause.

“You can tell that the world is taking notice. It’s quite inspiring.”

Béa Johnson is coming to the Mary Winspear Centre on Friday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m., and the Victoria Conference Centre on Sat. Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. Visit victoriazerowasteliving.com for more information.

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