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Zero Waste and Refusing

I have been following Bea’s blog at http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/ for a few months now and am blown away at what she has been able to accomplish.  She and her family have committed to living a lifestyle that generates zero waste – as in trash.  I thought I was doing a pretty decent job of this until I “met” Bea!  I don’t think I will ever come close to what Bea has accomplished, but she has given me some new ideas and a fresh perspective on waste.  If you are interested in learning more, I would highly recommend that you check out her blog.

One of her tools in her zero waste quest is to refuse.  For example, this means refusing to take home swag from an event or goody bags from a party.  I have tried to be a refuser for quite some time now, even before I started reading her blog.  I have received some negative reactions to this a few times and a few weird looks.  I have tried being thankful to the person offering the useless stuff and briefly explaining that I don’t have a use for it and that I certainly appreciate the offer, but there is generally tension hanging in the air after one of these encounters.

One person did eventually end up getting it.  I was at an event and someone was giving out a sample of a product she had developed that was quite innovative, but something that I really didn’t need and probably wouldn’t use.  She asked me if I would like one and I politely said “No thank you!” She went on to explain to me that she was giving them away for free and I again politely replied with a “I understand it is free and it is a cool product, but no thanks!”  She then tried to offer me a different design and I then explained to her that if I bring that product into my house, I have a rule that something else has to go and I don’t know what I would get rid of to make space for that item.  She looked at me a bit quizzically and then moved on to the next person.

I ran into her at another event a couple of months later and she remembered me and said “I now understand where you were coming from with that rule you have about getting rid of something if you bring something new into the house.”  I was so surprised that she remembered, took the time to let me know that she understood and was so happy that any tension that was in the air the last time I saw her had disappeared!

How do you deal with refusing stuff?  Have you had any interesting encounters when refusing?

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