Something that we rarely think twice about is when you’re at a restaurant and they hand you a plastic straw for your drink. You take it, out of habit, and use it. Habit is hard to break, but you can refuse it, thereby reducing the waste you create. This is something that never occurred to me until I began delving into the world of zero waste and living a more sustainable life. Even if you’re not the environmental type, try it at least once – it’s empowering to say no. Plus, it might even spark the interest of the person handing you the straw, which can lead to them thinking twice about just automatically handing out straws (For the straw lovers out there, you can even buy stainless steel straws and rid yourself of guilt).
The point is, as consumers, we can refuse. This is how change can come about. Continuing along the restaurant theme, you can bring your own take out containers and refuse the Styrofoam boxes that are standard issue. Personally, I enjoy this approach to living the green life, because people are curious at heart. When you refuse a takeout container or some other disposable item, it creates an opportunity for a conversation between you and someone you might not have otherwise spoken with. It creates a connection, and the potential for changing the perspective of the other person. I’m not suggesting they’ll be converted to a diehard environmentalist, but they might become more aware of the lifecycle of an object. I’m fond of the saying, “When you throw something away, there is no away.” It’s got to go somewhere.