Podcast 94, JOOST BAKKER - ZERO WASTE LIVING

Joost Bakker photographed by Nick Walker.

Joost Bakker photographed by Nick Walker.

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EPISODE 94 FEATURES JOOST BAKKER

The New York Times calls him "the poster boy for zero waste living". He's a florist, artist, restaurateur, architect, inventor and revolutionary thinker. Meet the man on a mission to convince us we can grow all the food we need where we live.

In this riveting episode, we discuss everything from how wasteful the floristry industry is to the microbial power of healthy soil to boost serotonin (yep, it can get you high apparently). What steps can we make to reconnect with the natural world? How might eating seasonally change our health, happiness and impact? Could we really grow all the food we need on the roof and walls of our houses and apartment buildings? What's the future of green cities?

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT…

The event was mention, and met at, was the opening of Country Road’s new Chadstone store - the first retail store be certified with a 5 Star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. Read more here, and here.

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LAND USE & CLIMATE CHANGE. The IPPC report warns we’re pushing land to its limits, and wasting 1/3 of the food that’s produced doesn’t help. More here.

WATTLE The golden wattle (above) has thrived on the Australian continent for 35 million years, resilient to drought, wind and bushfire.

“I’ve always understood that we can’t keep taking from the soil.” - Joost Bakker

SEASONALITY as a no brainer., says Joost: “All that energy that goes into trying to get something a little bit earlier or a little bit later?” Crazy. When we can just enjoy what’s in season.

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FASHION’S FLOWER OBSESSION For his Autumn/Winter 2012 Couture show, his first for Christian Dior, Raf Simmons decked out 5 rooms inside Parisian house with 1 million fresh flowers. Yep, 1 million!

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According to The Australian: '“The most recent statistics show that more than 120 million flowers were imported in 2012, nearly 80 million of them roses. That's a tenfold increase since 2008 and it is expected to be even higher now. Other big imports are orchids, chrysanthemums, carnations and fresh foliage.“

Joost says he’d like to see us embrace and understand seasonality in flowers as we are starting to do with food. “Of course we love flowers, it’ primal,” he says. “When we see a beautiful flower we are drawn to it, like a bee. But [the flower industry] is an industry that has, like fashion, abused that situation and taken it to another level.”

Read the Washington Post article Clare mentions here.Up to 80 percent of the 5.6 billion stems of flowers sold in the United States each year are imported. Of those, 93 percent are grown thousands of miles away in production greenhouses in Colombia or Ecuador. And it takes an awful lot of energy and artificial tinkering to keep those flowers fresh…”

Joost  Photographed by    Alexandrena Parker   .

Joost Photographed by Alexandrena Parker.

TULIP FEVER Clare thought tulips were Dutch - they’re not. “Everybody thinks that tulips come from Holland. Actually, Tulips are native to Central Asia and Turkey. In the 16th Century they were brought to Holland from Turkey, and quickly became widely popular. Today, Tulips are cultivated in Holland in great numbers and in huge fields. Read more here.

FLOWER POWER In October 2018, Joost and his brother flower-bombed Melbourne’s laneways, arranging 35,000 blooms that would have gone to waste in the streets, and encouraging passerby to take them home. Read all about it here.

How could these be waste?

How could these be waste?

“I don’t try and find a use for the waste, I just take a few steps back and look at the system. If the system is generating something that is of no use for anyone, or becomes at problem, then we need to change the system.” - JOOST BAKKER


HOW HE BEGAN. As a florist, Joost “began experimenting with unusual specimens: whole branches of flowering gums and masses of white tulips, their roots fully exposed in glass jars. Soon, his installations climbed up walls and hung from ceilings. Hundreds of blown-out light bulbs became elegant dangling vases for a canopy of lilies, while electrical clamps were used as a bouquet-binding substitute for jute. Fifteen years ago, Bakker started asking his restaurant clients to give him their organic waste for compost, promising them in return even more spectacular blooms.” VIA NEW YORK TIMES, read the rest here.

Joost in the meat locker of the Rockpool Bar & Grill, where he has stuffed a beef carcass with stargazer lilies. Photographed by Earl Carter, for New York Times

Joost in the meat locker of the Rockpool Bar & Grill, where he has stuffed a beef carcass with stargazer lilies. Photographed by Earl Carter, for New York Times

In 2015, WWF analysis concluded that more than 80% of deforestation between now and 2030 – up to 170 million hectares in total – is expected to take place in 11 deforestation ‘fronts’. One of these is Eastern Australia, which ranks alongside the Amazon, Borneo, Congo Basin and other threatened tropical regions for the extent of forest at risk. Read more here.

Victoria’s Mountain Ash trees

Victoria’s Mountain Ash trees

VERTICAL GARDEN by Joost Bakker combines industrial sculpture with living plants to create a space-efficient indoor garden. Inspired by biophilic design, it aims to boost health, wellbeing and happiness in living and working spaces. Find them from the Google head office to houses in Spain. And Joost’s own house, which is covered with 11,000 terra-cotta pots filled with strawberry plants.

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SYNTHETIC FERTILISERS Burning natural gas to make ammonia, known as the Haber-Bosch process, revolutionized farming 100 years ago—but If relying on fossil fuels to give the world electricity and heat is unsustainable, so is relying on fossil fuels to grow its food. Read more here.

GREENHOUSE by Joost first appeared in Melbourne’s Federation Square from November 2008 to January 2009 before turning up in Perth in December 2009 as a permanent restaurant. A year later, hearing of the plans to take the Greenhouse concept on an international tour, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority jumped in and invited Joost to kick off the tour in Sydney with a 0,000 grant to make the project happen. Only a few weeks later Greenhouse by Joost opened on Saturday 12th February right on the water’s edge in Campbells Cove, it will be packed up at the end of March and make its international debut at the International Furniture Fair in Milan.


JUSTUS VON LIEBIG was a German chemist, who is widely credited as one of the founders of agricultural chemistry. He made crucial contributions to the analysis of organic compounds, and, in his early years, also published several works on the use of inorganic fertilizers in several languages. He discovered that nitrogen was an essential plant nutrient, and presented his famous Law of the Minimum which explained the effect of individual nutrients on crops.

MICROFLORA the secret to feeling good? “I'm holding a bowl of dirt up to my nose, in hopes of getting high on the fumes of my backyard compost pile. The microbe that I'm after today is M. vaccae, a living creature that acts like a mind-altering drug once it enters the human body. It has been shown to boost the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine circulating in the systems of both humans and mice. In other words, it works in much the same manner as antidepressant pills. And yes, it is possible to dose yourself by simply breathing in the smell of good dirt.Try this story, IS DIRT THE NEW PROZAC. And this one: How to Get High On Soil.


A NOTE ON OUR MUSIC: IT IS BY OUR FRIEND MONTAIGNE, WHO SANG A SPECIAL ACOUSTIC VERSION OF "BECAUSE I LOVE YOU" JUST FOR US. IT'S FROM HER ALBUM GLORIOUS HEIGHTS.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING THE WARDROBE CRISIS CONVERSATION. WE'LL HAVE A NEW EPISODE FOR YOU EVERY WEDNESDAY. CAN YOU HELP US SPREAD THE WORD? WE'D LOVE YOU TO TELL YOUR FRIENDS & LEAVE A REVIEW IN APPLE PODCASTS.

Until next time,

Clare x