“Refuse”

These are the buzz words that we use the most to talk about what we should be doing to solve the problems we’ve created.

They all have a great place to help out with the plastic problem, but there’s another word that I came across because my iPhone autocorrected something.

Refuse

This is probably not much of an issue in most places, but when we lived in Egypt, the shopkeepers got offended if you said no to their bags. They had the mindset that they would be seen as cheap if they didn’t give out bags like candy—not to mention that they grossly underestimated how much two grown adults could carry for two blocks, and that twenty items weigh the same no matter how many bags they go in.

I digress. The result is that Egypt is FULL of plastic bags. Everywhere you look. There doesn’t seem to be a culture for reusable shopping bags there yet, but just training employees to use fewer plastic bags at checkout would do quite a bit to help.

In Lithuania and elsewhere, the cashiers ask if you need a bag plus you are charged several cents for each one. Also, reusable shopping bags are unbelievably common. Every major supermarket has its own branded bags, and they’re also sold at every linen shop. (If you ever visit Lithuania, you’ll come to realize that there are a lot of linen shops.)

Besides plastic bags, we should be trying to refuse plastic straws, cutlery, lids, and plastic takeout containers.

It may seem like the most important thing we can do is to pressure business we like to stop pushing plastics on consumers who don’t really need or want them. That may absolutely be the case; however, I think it’s also important that we praise companies who change their practices in order to become more sustainable. Let that bubble tea place you love know that you appreciate them even more for switching to paper straws for instance!

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