Did you know that straw is the world’s biggest waste material? Perhaps it’s news to you that it’s cheaper to produce a recycled can than it is to make a new one from raw material. We’re all aware of issues in the world today such as plastic waste, the use of harmful toxins and a globalised and destructive food system but these issues can seem too big to tackle ourselves. Our guest today offers a different perspective and says these problems are easy to solve if we just put our energy into it.

In this jam-packed episode, Kribashini is joined by Joost Bakker, named ‘poster boy of zero waste living’ by the New York Times, and he shares his depth of knowledge on sustainable living and how he lives by a zero-waste philosophy.

Joost shares how he has implemented zero waste initiatives in his own home and discusses some of the projects he’s done in the past. He dives into the amazing benefits of using straw to insulate, his discovery of magnesium oxide and why he doesn’t use FSC certified timber in his home.

Kribashini asks Joost about the Future Food System project in Melbourne, a self-sustaining, zero waste, productive house which will be home to two chefs as they live solely off the food produced in the home.

The point is driven home throughout the discussion that it all comes down to being conscious of what we’re building and how we’re living on a daily basis. Joost not only shares about his passion for wildlife and designing with a purpose in mind but also talks about the devastating loss of biodiversity, the problems with the current food system and how behind everything he does lies the fundamental belief that we need to transition to a zero-waste system.

If you don’t want to build a worm farm or establish a rooftop garden already, wait until you’ve heard the whole episode. Joost’s passion for all things sustainable is contagious and it’s an episode not to be missed.

If you have a topic or question you’d like us to cover, contact us here.


  • [3:44]: How at the core of everything Joost does lies the fundamental belief that we need to transition to a zero-waste system
  • [4:30]: How Joost’s fascination with straw started as a young boy growing up on a farm in Holland and how he started building straw houses that were more sustainable and really well insulated
  • [5:40]: How Joost used straw bales in the ceiling when no one else was doing it and how the loss of biodiversity is something he finds deeply depressing
  • [6:05]: How plantation forests aren’t the solution because they are a monoculture where there is no biodiversity or wildlife. We are losing trees faster than ever before but replanting in monocultures won’t help.
  • [7:30]: How Joost loves steel because it’s easy to recycle and prevents termite infestation without chemicals
  • [8:00]: How Joost starts at the end and works backwards when designing zero-waste systems
  • [8:20]: Joost’s house has conventional plaster inside, which is also sustainable and the many benefits of using straw
  • [8:55]: A strawbale house has a burn time of 1.5 days, compared to 90 minutes for a conventional house
  • [9:40]: It’s not easy to build a sustainable house. The problem with testing is that it’s done in a lab but Joost is all about going back to basics and using natural materials that can be recycled
  • [10:40]: How Joost discovered magnesium oxide and has been lobbying to build local magnesium oxide factories which is naturally mould and fire resistant at low cost
  • [12:44]: How Joost is concerned about the global use of timber and doesn’t use FSC certified timber in his home. He has compressed strawboard pine studs
  • [13:00]: How straw is the world’s biggest waste product and a perfect product to use because it’s hard and hollow, which is why it insulates really well
  • [13:35]: Joost’s home is designed to self-support with the foundation being the 30 tonnes of soil on the roof. He has built like this 5 times before
  • [14:28]: How a lot of the cost of a building goes into the foundation. People who want rooftop gardens often can’t fit it into their budget because it’s an ad on but if you design the garden from the start into the building, you save cost on foundations and heating/cooling
  • [16:30]: How Joost’s house passed the fire test unlike any other building
  • [18:00]: The compliance industry is disappointing because they approve materials that are difficult to recycle. Natural materials are stronger, last better and have zero waste
  • [20:33]: How using materials filled with toxins is harmful to our health and that buildings need to breathe. As brilliant as passive design is from an energy perspective, it’s not healthy.
  • [21:50]: Kribashini explains the passive house, which is a very well sealed building
  • [23:00]: How conventional homes are built using toxins which cause cancer but Greenhouse uses simple materials that aren’t treated and harvests the energy we create
  • [25:20]: Joost talks through the use of biodigesters and worm farms which feedback into the food systems integrated into his homes
  • [26:50]: How Joost’s home is a biodiverse ecosystem reliant on humans which is an idea he got from simply copying nature
  • [28:30]: The fact that our food is not nourishing us is the world’s biggest problem yet we’re sitting on our solution. We need to grow our own food
  • [29:30]: How Joost discovered the use of tiger nuts to make milk instead of dairy, which is just one example of an alternative to a current destructive system
  • [31:30]: How if our own farmers grew trees for our timber, we could solve the whole problem within 20 years
  • [33:25]: Work with what you’ve got because we can all do our bit
  • [34:20]: We could eliminate a lot of plastic waste if beverages weren’t allowed in plastic bottles, which would actually be cheaper. The consumers are driving the industry.


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