Since my last post, I have been quite busy touring. And I would have liked to write this post earlier but it’s only this weekend that I found a couple of hours to myself to go over photos of my most recent adventures. Writing this post and re-living my tour through these photographs made me realize how blessed I am for having found my calling, for the trust that people have placed in me, for the wonderful acquaintances (and friendships) that I have made along the way, for the incredible movement and initiatives that have emerged since the launch of this blog.
Here is a recap of last month’s tour: An 11 day journey through 10 countries.
WARNING: DIZZINESS MIGHT OCCUR IF READ TOO QUICKLY 😉
Right upon landing from California (thank God I slept on the plane!), I kicked off my tour in Bristol, UK, with back to back talks,
We ended the evening with Jager shots: Tough start for a tour, but what else would you expect from a visit to the UK ? 🙂
The tea, media interviews and the evening’s event were organized by Catherine Conway (left), and her assistant, Maria.
Catherine is the owner of Unpackaged, the first package-free shop of our modern era. She opened in 2006, coincidentally the same year that my family moved towards a zero waste lifestyle. When I wrote about the business in my book, I never thought that one day, I’d meet the woman behind it: I am grateful to her for bringing a full house to my talk,
and book signings,
but more importantly, for setting an example to the hundreds of bulk shops that have since emerged!
The next day, I found myself in Dublin, where these 3 women of Zero Waste Ireland…
had organized speaking engagements at the Catholic University School, the Larkin Community School, and a jam-packed event at Trinity College in the evening…
(an event so packed, that security threatened to kick us out!)
From there, I went to Amsterdam…
for a day filled with activities, organized by Opgemarkt: Meeting with the press and local Zero Waste activists at Eco Mama Hotel, taking a boat tour on the canals, taking count of ponytail holders along the way (more on that here),
lunching at In Stock (a restaurant that makes beautiful dishes from food waste collected from the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands),
speaking in front of this large gathering at Pllek (a very cool venue made up of shipping containers),
and finally posing for a photo with Inge, a woman that was inspired by my book to launch Bag Again, a line of reusable cloth bags.
The next morning, I was greeted in Luxembourg by Isabel, this wonderful woman…
who spent the day driving me to all my different events: A talk at the BGL BNP Paribas,
a book signing,
and a talk at the European Commission.
Oh, and look what I found going from one event to another: An orange squeezing machine just like the one I use at my health food store!
The next day, an early start and a very long train ride took me to my pretty walled hometown of Avignon, in the South of France…
I spoke at the College Joseph Vernet…
(the highlight there being fearless questions typical of middle-schoolers: What are the zero waste alternatives to condoms? Do you buy used underwear?)
Sans Transition Magazine had also planned a round table…
and one of my talks (which my dad attended!) in Mazan.
That night I slept in the bedroom of my childhood.
A car ride, train and tram later, I was speaking at the Montpellier Business School…
an event organized by one of my biggest and cutest fans ;-), Camille.
After battling with delayed train schedules and cursing the inefficient French transport system, I arrived in Switzerland, just in time for my segment on 26 minutes, a satiric TV show (only follow the link to the video if you understand French and have an acute sense of humor).
I wrapped up my day with an appearance at the Green Film Festival
The next morning, Eslyne (below, left) picked me up in Geneva for book signings at her two newest Chez Mamie locations:
Chez Mamie Monthey (the owners, at my sides, were inspired by my book to open their store).
and Chez Mamie Martigny.
If you recall, Eslyne and her husband, Olivier, were inspired by my book to launch their first store in Sion last year: Today, they are a franchise with 9 different locations throughout Switzerland!
Along the way, we grabbed lunch at a little organic cafe serving in returnable containers,
and toured the farmer’s market of Vevey (pics in this post on bulk).
That night I gave a talk in Bagnes, a beautiful town in Switzerland,
which also happens to be the capital of the raclette… So, I made sure to get a taste of it during my visit 😉
Then, I hopped over to Ottignies, Belgium, for media interviews and a visit of the brand new Grasphopper store, the owners of which were inspired by a talk I gave in the area a couple of years ago to launch their business (the upcycled wood sign is by L’Ecorce Vive).
My talk that night gathered a crowd of 600…
Not bad for a small town!
That night, I also signed the most worn-out copy I have yet seen of my book 😉
A flight later, I found myself in Macedonia,
a country that I had never visited, a part of the world that felt instantly exotic given the number of minarets dotting the skyline…
I was given a tour of the capital of Skopje and its market (pics in an upcoming post on bulk). Then, the women of Od Nula Do Nula
had organized an afternoon talk at the University American College
and an evening event – yes, the sign says Bea Johnson, in Macedonian!
My talk was attended by no less than the Ambassador of France (front row) …
and it gathered a crowd large enough, that half of my audience had to be seated in an annex where my presentation was broadcast.
Not only did the interest for the zero waste lifestyle there touch me, but so did the Macedonian’s welcome and generosity. And what better way to celebrate it than with a glass of rakia at the end of the day;-)
I could have spent a vacation there, but I had to go on to my next stop, a trip that took me over the landscapes of Austria which are dotted by hundred of wind turbines,
past another orange squeezing machine (Vienna Airport),
to Bratislava, Slovakia. These four women, readers of my book and now zero wasters,
had organized a press conference,
and an evening presentation
in this super cool, nightclub venue.
My talk was attended by no less than Buddha himself (back row) 😉
A fun train ride took me to my final destination: Budapest, Hungary. Ecolife Magazin – which had me on the cover last month,
gave me a tour of the city’s highlights (last time I came to Budapest was 20 yrs ago!)
and hosted my talk in this beautiful theater.
And yes, all of this in 11 days…
Sure, I came home exhausted.. but at the same time energized by the findings I made during that trip: One thing is sure, zero waste is exploding worldwide. The demand and attendance of my speaking engagements attest of the growing interest for zero waste. The talks and the interest that they have received from the media, have in themselves already had an impact: I have learned that several bulk shops are now in the works where before they lacked.
My presentation in Dublin motivated a Zero Waste Ireland member to open a zero waste market stall only a few days after my visit (package-free rice, corn, loose tea, chickpeas, dishwasher, laundry detergent, etc). Not a shop yet, but a promising start.
Last week, I spoke in 4 cities throughout Canada, all sold out events… And this week, I am kicking off a tour in South Africa and Mauritius (for cities and dates, make sure to check my calendar of events). I can’t wait to share my journey on social media and subsequently here, in detail.
Evidently the subject of waste reduction is a matter of global interest…
Is Zero Waste growing in your neck of the woods too?