Our blog this week was originally published for Zero Waste Forest City, a London-based community group that focuses on making a low impact lifestyle more approachable for everyone.
After completing a trash audit last week,
it came to my attention how much of my personal garbage production came
from takeaway food. The clamshell packaging, the paper napkins, the
plastic cutlery – the list continues. And so, this week, I thought I
would take a first step in mitigating this waste by exercising one of
the more underrated Rs of the sustainability cycle: reduce. Or more
accurately – refuse.
This seemingly simple strategy costs nothing, and yet seems to be the step most often avoided (for me – at least). We can reduce our plastic straw waste by buying metal straws instead. Or reducing our packaging waste by purchasing foods and other products in bulk. But articulating a refusal seemed to be harder than teaching someone above the age of 25 how to floss.
But oftentimes, simply refusing the waste can be just as effective as buying any other waste-free intervention.
ordering any sort of takeaway product – a great way to reduce your waste is by
refusing the plastic cutlery, the napkins, the ketchup packets, the paper
plates, etc. Instead, use the items and cutlery you already have at home. And
as a further step, make sure you have these items with you if you’re planning on
eating outside of the house.
accomplished this last week by adding two crucial interventions into my
I purchased metal chopsticks and brought them with me in my purse;
I explicitly refused napkins and plastic cutlery in my order.
step was weirdly more difficult than the first.
Now – don’t
get too excited. I’m not ordering takeaway more than twice a week – so these
steps weren’t a massive overhaul in my zero-waste routine. But they
certainly made a difference in my personal waste production. And while I still
received the clamshell packaging – I didn’t have any waste from the cutlery,
condiment packaging, or paper napkins. And that – in my books – is something.
I have the intention (soon, but not yet) to bring my own Tupperware for takeaway food orders, to avoid the plastic packaging altogether.
process, however, is all about baby steps. And above all I wanted to start to
integrate this right of refusal into my zero-waste transition.
the three Rs of Sustainability (reduce, reuse, recycle) hold value – so too
does that fourth R for refusal.
Take the pledge
to reduce your environmental footprint by commenting below with ways
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