REFUSE! Challenge

The Rs of disposable plastics go:



To help you reduce your own plastic waste, just remember the simple advice above.  To elaborate:

  • Rethink your use of plastics. Remembering that every plastic item ever created still exists, ask yourself whether that disposable convenience is really worth it?  That plastic granola wrapper (for e.g.) will be on this planet for thousands of years…(could you do without it, or make/find a better treat?)
  • Part of rethinking is to start recognizing where all of the disposable plastic items in your life are coming from.  What are your own bad plastic manners?  What items are you just buying out of habit?  Are others constantly imposing plastics on you without notice?
  • Armed with awareness, get disciplined about refusing single-use disposable plastics.
  • Start with the easy things, refusing coffee lids, straws in drinks, plastic bags, cutlery, wrapped muffins etc etc.  So easy.
  • Then, move onto the ‘harder’ things, sourcing one alternative at a time.  Be creative!

For me, this refusing business has become a really fun and rewarding challenge.  It never ends, but it has become second nature.  And finding/making alternatives is even better, if you even needed replacements in the first place .  If there are two things that I have learned during this project, is that:

  1. Convenience is not what makes life colourful.
  2. There is abundance in going without.


Start small:

  • Refuse one item each day that you would otherwise have acquired.
  • Host a plastic free dinner and talk about the challenges with your guests.
  • Get a group together and collect your plastics for a week or month.  Discuss.
  • Choose one area of your life you want to reduce your waste in and….GO!  Move onto the next area once mastered.  Some categories: take out waste, kitchen waste (many sub-categories), bathroom waste, cleaning products, synthetic clothes, kid and pet paraphenalia.

Go big:

  • Going big has its benefits, and I am a proponent of this approach.  Because if you start small, you might get comfortable with a few steps and never go the distance, forgoing most benefits.
  • Purge all plastics.
  • Refuse all plastics.  Prepare for the long haul…every day, every month, every year will present new dilemmas.


If you are not quite ready to do it all, another way to help is simply to ask for plastic free alternatives (even if you are not even going to buy anything).  If enough people ask…  Suggestions:

  • Are any of your clothes plastic free?  They wont know what you mean, so explain you are looking for non-synthetic clothes.
  • Can I have that food/drink in something other than plastic?
  • Do you have any products without all the plastic packaging?

For great alternatives, and more specific tips, please visit my Tips and Alternatives page, or Beth Terry’s The List of Plastic Free Changes.

34 thoughts on “REFUSE! Challenge

  1. I have been absent for a while, but came back on [date. Now I recall why I used to love this site.
    Thanks for keeping it going, I’m gonna start checking back more regularly. How often do you update your site.?

    1. Hey thanks! I have to say my posts are rather sporadic as of date. Maybe a few times a month. However, stay tuned for an announcement in a few days and the posts should also pick up in regularity.

  2. Thanks for your blog. We have to make refusing fun and I think you’re doing that. Good for you. Many people just don’t realize how toxic plastic is. I’m not as far along as you, but I’m getting there.

    Keep up the great work.

    Angela (also a Vancouver woman)

  3. I am blogging about de-cluttering my house and my attempting zero-waste fast food. Some of the containers I have used are plastic but they are not single use. I have also brought in pyrex or pie plates to fast food places. It’s really eye opening. Wish my husband was on board more but he has accepted alot of the changes. I hope to go to the zero-waste conference next year. Glad to know some Vancouverites that are working towards change. I wish I could say I am where you are at but I have a while to go.

  4. It is really refreshing to read this comment column with so many people doing their bit for the love of the environment.
    Each one of us has only to do a little bit. One million little bits soon becomes a huge little bit.
    We practice ‘O’ waste at home. We recycle all that can be recycled and compost all our kitchen waste and by doing that nothing is left to go into our waste bin for Municipal collection.
    Please visit our website:
    Mylene and I are two people just doing our little bit.

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