5 R’s of Waste Reduction: Reject

The 5 R's continued

In preparation for Zero Waste Week (Oct 15-19), the second ‘R’ of waste reduction and the theme of the week is ‘Reject’.

two overflowing dumpsters on campusWhen we talk about ‘Reject’, we’re referring to refusing products that we don’t need. Have you ever bought lunch and without question the sales assistant wraps it up in a bag of plastic with utensils and a large stack of napkins? It takes more energy to make and recycle plastic cutlery for single-use rather than to use and wash your own, so if you don’t need it, why not say so?

As consumers, we have great power – and responsibility – to communicate the types of products we want through our purchasing decisions. By saying no to products with excessive packaging, disposable or harmful materials, not only are we reducing waste in the waste stream but also reducing demand for those types of products. This also benefits companies that provide these products because the less they offer to consumers, the less they have to purchase.

What you can do

Here are some simple tips to reject unnecessary products offered to us on a daily basis:

  • When companies give you free pens or bags, think about whether you will use it and if it will end up in the garbage first
  • Reject plastic bags, especially if you bring your own bags or are able to carry your items easily
  • Refuse to buy environmentally harmful cleaning products and opt for eco-friendly versions or make your own (here are some great DIY recipes from Keeper of the Home)
  • Reject the straw with your iced coffee and bring your own reusable mug
  • Say no to receipts, especially if it’s going straight into the garbage on the way out of the store

Rejecting products doesn't mean giving up your morning coffee, lunch, or adding inconvenience to your shopping – it’s about opting for waste-free alternatives. While many disposable products offer a small immediate benefit, their impact on the environment can last forever. See our blog post on the 5 R’s of Waste Reduction: Reduce to access alternatives on campus that will allow you to reject wasteful products.

Take the challenge

We will be challenging the campus community to the Zero Waste Challenge from October 15-19. Stay tuned for more details and registration in the coming weeks!

In the meantime, follow us on the hashtags #ZeroWasteUW to stay in the loop leading up to #WasteWeekUW.