Monday, 2 May 2016

The funniest zero waste guide ever

Last December, during the COP 21 summit, I discovered a blog written by a zero waste French family leaving in Landes in the South West of France. Reading one article after another for about an hour, I couldn't stop laughing.

Jérémie Pichon, 40 years old, and Bénédicte Moret, 32, have been sharing the ups and downs of their zero waste journey on their blog since October 2014. They are completely committed to reducing their waste and they have a great sense of humour.

Jérémie writes articles - he loves puns, uses a lot of slang and adore poking fun at so-called "zérosceptics". Bénédicte, a graphist and illustrator by profession, adds a visual dimension to Jérémie's articles. Her cartoons are witty and colourful. Together they form an irresistible double act.



"When we started the blog, Bénédicte and I just wanted to have a fun joint project. We never thought that it would become so popular so quickly. We are delighted", Jérémie tells me. A year and a half after its launch, the blog receives 2000 hits per day. Each articles attracts dozens of enthusiastic comments from readers. Their Facebook page is also proof of the huge popularity of La famille (presque) zéro déchet.

In fact, the blog proved so popular that last year Bénédicte and Jérémie were approched by a French publisher. La famille presque zéro déchet, Ze Guide came out on March 3rd. 15 000 copies had already been printed by mid-April. 

I took the opportunity of a recent trip to France to buy Ze guide.


The book, as the blog, is not a comic book you just read to get entertained. It's very funny but also extremely practical. Jérémie and Bénédicte advice their readers on how to shop zero waste, celebrate kids birthday in a sustainable manner and, generally speaking, live a zero waste life in an environment where zero waste is not the norm (yet). Above all, the guide contains a handful of recipes - toothpaste, washing-up liquid, laundry liquid etc. - tried and tested by the authors and their two young children.

I've used the recipes contained in the book to make my own dish-washer powder and toothpaste.

Before they embraced a zero waste lifestyle, Jérémie and his partner, Bénédicte, considered themselves being very eco-friendly. But their life was completely transformed when they decided to reduce their waste drastically. "We are healthier. Our monthly budget has been reduced. All in whole, we live a better life", Jérémie summarizes. What about the kids? "They've hardly noticed anything. They got used to homemade cakes and compotes very quickly. They find them much tastier than the industrial goûters we fed them before.

"At three, we jump in the bin" Cartoon by Bénédicte Moret.


Jérémie, who has been campaigning on green issues for the last 15 years, feels like the tide is turning. "An increasing number of people in France think that there is no point waiting for politicians to change things for the better, that it's much more efficient and satisfying to kick start things at home and in the community. Being zero waste is also a way to grab some power back from big companies. Buying local products from small producers is a very powerful political act."

By Bénédicte Moret, a.k. Bloutouf


What's next for La famille (presque) zéro déchet? "We keep publishing articles on our blog. We are also working on a children version of the book. It will be released at the end of the year. We hope that we can educate the young generation to sustainability. It's crucial because we can't carry on producing as much as we are at the moment. Resources are limited."

Find out more about Jérémie and Bénédicte's zero waste journey (in French) on their blog, La famille (presque) zéro déchet. If you are interested in Bénédicte's work, have a look to her website.

Bénédicte Moret and Jérémie Pichon will give a conference at the Festival Zero Waste. The 3-day festival, organised by Zero Waste France, is taking place in Paris between June 30th and July 2nd. 
Béa Johnson, Tomorrow's film-director Cyril Dion, 2013 Goldman prize winner Rossano Ercolini, Robert Reed etc. will feature among the 100 guests. The festival will also be a very practical event - 50 workshops are part of the programme.