Zero Waste: The power of no
Our Development Worker Craig talks about learning how to refuse can have a huge impact on how much we waste in his latest blog.
This week is Zero Waste Week, so it is a perfect opportunity to think about how we could reduce the amount we throw away.
We are all familiar with the mantra reduce, reuse, recycle, but there is another “R” that sits above these three at the top of the waste reduction pyramid, and that is REFUSE. This one doesn’t get talked about as much and I don’t remember being taught it during eco-lessons in school. Perhaps we have become too accustomed to having what we want, when we want it, so have forgotten that this is an option or maybe we are just victims of the corporate machine convincing us we need more stuff and that we can recycle our way out of this waste mess (whilst still consuming of course!). Perhaps rejecting the “buy, buy, buy” and ‘that’s just the way it is’ message is the most important refusal of all? If we buy less in the first place, we will throw less away.
Whether you want to reduce food waste, cut out plastic or just have less stuff, learning to say no will help. Refusing to buy isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us and learning to say no is difficult. Here is a suggested list of questions that may help you the next time you are thinking of going shopping:
1. Do I need it?
It is very easy to get sucked in by a good deal, but if you don’t actually need the thing, then it’s not really a good deal.
2. Can I use something else? Or do I already have something similar that I could use for the purpose?
Get creative. Find a way to make what you already have work for you. Try exploring the back of the cupboard or wardrobe!
3. Will this be used at least 5 times?
If the answer is no, then maybe you can live without it. You could borrow from a family member, friend or neighbour or hire it, for example the Ecology Centre at Kinghorn has a tool library (as well as lots of other great things).
4. Is this good quality and will it last?
You pay for what you get. But you already knew that! So, follow through with that thought and get the one that will last, rather than the one from Poundland.
5. Do I support how or where it’s made?
This can be tricky, as it is difficult to find details. If the price seems too good to be true, there is a good chance that someone, somewhere along the supply chain has paid the price for you, for example through poor working conditions, low wage or environmental pollution. Websites such as the Ethical Consumer and the Good Shopping Guide can guide you. You need to beware of “greenwashing” too, where companies give the impression of being sustainable through packaging and clever marketing when their actions are far from green. Read labels, read stories, and ask questions.
6. Will this bring joy to my life?
Maybe saying no will bring you even more joy?!
Saying “no” is very hard as we are constantly under huge pressure to consume and you won’t get it right every time. We need to keep in mind that we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly. Working towards zero waste is a journey and has to be done in small steps, but saying no will definitely help you along the way.
Ref: Going Zero Waste|