I met Nina few years ago when we were working in the same company. Today, she dropped off her old job (like me) to do something more meaningful for her. When I discovered few months ago that she started to go Zero Waste, I was impressed. And she kept impressing me ever since we kept following each other on Instagram. I followed her daily adventures into this whole new experience and I found it so inspiring that I asked if I could interview her and she said yes! I’m grateful that you get the chance to know her. I hope that with this interview you get to know her and her intentions deeper. If you want to see like me her incredible adventures, go on Instagram @jolisauvage
Her blog is also coming out soon, so stay updated!
Can you introduce yourself quickly?
My name is Nina, I’m 33 and Parisian. I don’t only define myself as a Zerowaster because it’s more of a lifestyle than an identity subject even if it has become essential for me. Above all, I am an eco-logic person who believes in love, kindness and honesty for others and myself. These are the main values in my life. I could say that I am an idealistic punk who tries to find balance while living in alignment with my convictions.
When did you start to be interested into Zero Waste? Did you have any inspiration?
Everything started 3 years ago when I decided to quit everything and change career. I went to Ferrandi to have a cooking degree in order, at that time, to become a chef. During my studies and while working in the kitchens, I realized slowly that there was a real issue with food waste in our society. Products are massively over packed and that doesn’t make sense. After reading some books and articles, seeing some documentaries and listen to some podcasts, I finally discovered the Zero Waste movement and it became obvious for me. It was logic.
How did it manifest at the beginning and in the weeks and months after?
First, I figured out the differences between my needs and what I wanted. On a path to determine what I really needed, I became sort of a minimalist. I sorted out, emptied and gave all the things I didn’t needed one space at a time. I only kept the things that were adding joy and/or were useful. Then I started to see the roots of my own wastes and one by one I tried to replace them when I couldn’t get rid of it in my life at all.
It’s been a year and a half now that I’m leaving under the 5 rules of Zero Waste: decline, when I don’t need it; reduce, the things we need; use again what can be; recycle, what can’t be declined nor reduced or used again and finally compost everything that can be composted. And everyday, I see things that I can improve.
How do you feel about doing it?
I feel simply good. I live in harmony with my convictions while being honest and kind to myself. I don’t try to prove anything to anyone because I know that what I’m doing is fair and good for me. I’m not perfect but I’m doing my best to be the best version of myself and the person I want to become.
Did you see the world differently after starting this experiment?
Ha ha ha yes !!! I don’t see supermarkets as abundant places anymore but as big bins in the times to come. More seriously, it’s all my belief system that evolved; I now choose reality other fake and superficiality. People’s judgement is affecting me less than before. I don’t consume at all the same way I used to do and even less. I see my approach as a political approach and my money as a tool to say no to all the things I don’t want to support. I don’t feed anymore a world that I don’t relate to and I don’t buy anything that I’m not supporting.
What did your relatives and close friends said about it when you started to act? And what do they say today about it?
First, I think they wondered why I did that but I wasn’t talking that much about it. I was changing things privately and slowly I started to explain especially when they start questioning it. Today, my family and friends know that I live without producing any waste or at least trying to reduce it as much as I can and they understand it, help me and got interested more and more about it. Some of them even try to do it too and ask me advices. I’m touched a lot by that because I want to convey my convictions by being an example. I don’t want people to feel guilty about what I’m doing.
How did you explain to them the new you?
I didn’t have too because I live it and that’s it. I don’t need anyone’s approval and I’m not trying to force everyone to do the things that I do. They understand or not, get interested or not but I don’t judge them. My choices are only mines. I’m what I wanted to be and there is no discussion about it.
What was the hardest thing for you to do?
Stop smoking. It was a complete paradox in my life. Living in order to create less waste as possible while continuing to pollute my own body. I was seeing every waste that I was creating as a problem to solve and I was refusing to see the obvious. I was choosing to be blind on the biggest source of my waste. I was even about to order online some cigarettes that could make a tree grow when you throw it away. I didn’t want to feel guilty about the fact that I never really tried hard enough to stop…Then, I confessed to myself the non-sense of all that. Cigarettes delivered by plane, from the opposite of the world. I was picturing a big greenwashing in my head in order to avoid staring me right in the eyes, only because I thought I couldn’t make it. I opened my eyes on the fact that it was time to stop. So I took the decision and then it was simple. I didn’t want that anymore in my life. So I stopped. I can’t explain why it was so simple but it was over from one day to another. I made a choice and it had become obvious.
Is there a room or an area of your life that was most difficult to change?
The bathroom!!! I was completely overwhelmed by cosmetics, shower gels, creams and other beauty products supposed to make you beautiful. I was completely blind about what is making a woman truly beautiful: confidence. Nothing is sexier than a confident woman. I easily eliminated plastic containers, minimized my beauty routine, did some slow cosmetic experiments, tried to create my own toothpaste. I kept some of the habits, others have disappeared and I’m still working on the beauty routine subject, especially when it comes to make up. It’s not always a success but I’m not giving up. It will eventually happen!
Can you tell us, one thing you’re really proud of since the beginning of your journey?
This summer, I supported my friends Allison and Clélia in their project of creating a holistic space dedicated to yoga and naturopathy in Paris and trying to create as less waste as possible. After 2 years planning, they finally opened La Maison Nomade: 400m2 dedicated to another way to develop a restaurant, a yoga studio and therapist’s office. Today, I can say that I’m really happy to have supporting them and see this project alive and see the seeds of out thoughts grow and becoming a reality. I have a lot of respect because they have been brave and motivated. I’m happy to count them as part of my friends.
And one thing you’re still struggling with?
I’m trying for the second time compost with worms. First time I’ve tried, worms all died so I’m trying to find a good balance that will allow the new ones to live and procreate while eliminating my organic waste in a sustainable way. You often need to experiment, fail; try again before finding the good solution. I’m trying and I’m never giving up until it works!
If you had 3 things that you could recommend to anyone who wants to get started in a Zero Waste lifestyle?
- Sort your stuff: only keeps what is useful and add a positive feeling in your life.
- Identify the waste that you produce and replace them one by one.
- Take time to change your habits.
One thing that you think could change the future if everyone started to do it in the world today?
I think more specifically to 3 different attitudes: resist, claim and build. Resist because I think we can only change the world by resisting and not accepting the things that shocks us. Claim, who we are and what we believe in, without being extremes. And show the power of being an example. Finally, build, alternate ways and projects for the future, projects where both sides win, build your life and everything that’s part of it as we would dream the world to be.
Can you tell us about three people that inspire you?
Celebrities don’t inspire me. I am more inspired by people and books. So I think, I’ll answer differently to this question to talk about all the people living close to me and who are inspiring in my daily life. The people who are presents in the good and bad moments, the ones who dare to say no when I’m going to far, the ones who accepts me and support me always and that I must certainly exhaust with my hypersensitivity and my overwhelming energy because I can trust them and rely on them (and they can rely on me too), make time to say we love each other and each time we have to say bye. My focus goes to my friends and my family.
Are you hopeful about the future?
Of course! If I knew that everything was already ruined, what would be the point of changing all my lifestyle and put effort into it? I believe in the willpower of men to fight back. Of course, I know that we are far from going in the good direction, that nothing will change if decisions are not made someday within the law and politics (but this is another discussion) but at least I’m doing my job.
In the yogic philosophy, we talk a lot about “dharma” which is your purpose in this life. Do you feel like it’s your dharma to help people living a more sustainable and healthy way to live and/or it would be more about realizing yourself in this experience?
I think they are two people within me. On one hand, after changing my whole lifestyle, I realize that I know myself a little more everyday. I learn about my values and my priorities. And it allows me to grow. On the other hand, I feel like I need to align my personal and professional life by creating meaning. I need to find the right balance. It will certainly manifest by expressing what I believe in, even if I feel like I’m not made to do only thing in my life.
Do you feel more or less attached to things and possessions now?
Less is more. I think that’s enough.
What are your next projects at the moment?
Right now, I’m taking sometime to myself in order to think and find what I want to build for my future. I will soon release my blog and start to lead some Zero Waster workshops. It’s been a long time that I’ve been thinking about it and received a lot of support and questions from people around me, who are encouraging me to share my experience. So I thought that creating a blog would be a good way to start building a project that looks like the world I’m dreaming of. It’s a nice reminder of the name of my blog “joli sauvage” (translated as “pretty wilderness”).