Earlier this week I posted on the Zero Waste Tenets, which are the major principles you see zero waste bloggers refer to. They are refuse, reduce, reuse, rehome, recycle, rot. I think they are very good and give you some ideas on what to do to help minimize your impact on the earth. Unfortunately I have a problem with the way some people follow the first tenet of refuse.
Let me try to describe this using an example I saw recently. Someone had a sign on their front door, by their mail chute, telling the postman not to deliver junk mail to their home.
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Those people were happy because they no longer had junk mail to deal with. However you created extra work for the mailman and likely meant that the letter ended up in the trash, the very thing you were trying to avoid.
Now what would be a better alternative? First you can opt-out of mailings and/or sign up for electronic communication wherever possible. This would prevent the junk mail from arriving in the first place. However if you get a stray piece of mail you could address it with the company directly and express your wishes to be removed from their list. Furthermore you could recycle or repurpose the letter. This ensures that it is being handled consistently with your goals.
I see other examples of people refusing items such as selecting fruit that doesn't have a sticker, or worse yet, picking off the sticker to leave at the store. That refusal doesn't affect the amount of waste, it just means it's going in the store's trashcan rather than yours. However if you purchase items from a farmer's market where the farmer doesn't mark her produce it would be a net refusal. Even if the farmer did put stickers on their produce, you could ask them not to place them on some for you the following week.
My primary issue with people and the tenet of refuse is that they only are looking at refusals of stuff to make their mason jar of trash look better and not thinking about net refusals on the environment as a whole.
What are your thoughts? I love to hear from opposing viewpoints as well as those who see my point.
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