When she was a small child, our daughter Callie somehow got the idea of asking for ‘stuff’ for free—and it worked amazingly well for her. At the grocery store, ‘Do you have anything for free’ and sure enough the clerk would find SOMETHING to give her…a sticker, a rubber band, a pencil. This trick served her very well as a young child, and has even resulted in some pretty great opportunities as an adult.
But as a culture striving for sustainability we actually all need to start thinking differently about ‘stuff’ we get for free. If we want to really ’REDUCE’, we’re going to need to recondition ourselves to ‘REFUSE’.
Take a shot at refusing the straw, plastic fork and spoon, the occasional free water bottle. When shopping do you need the extra shopping bag and wrapping? Do you pick up the flyer or would a picture do instead? Think twice next time you go to a conference or trade show and take a pass on the magnet, keychain, bottle opener and other chachkies. Try saying ‘no’ to the snack, drink, or meal on the plane that you really don’t want—or if you travel in style, the fancy airline travel bag with socks, toothbrush, and eye-covers. Do you really need the contents of that 5K swag bag or another tote?
In the end, when we learn to say ‘no’ we’re freeing ourselves, and moving us all toward a culture of sustainability. What have you learned to refuse?