Maria Auclair

by Janelle Rolke @sustainablestepswithjanelle

This is the second chapter from "Lead a Circular Lifestyle By Practicing the R's of Sustainability"

Just say “NO” to single use plastics, freebies, and sales. Just because it’s a “bargain” does not mean you need it.  

There are numerous studies that have revealed that the more “stuff” you have can decrease productivity and distract you from spending time doing things that matter. Enter minimalism.  Along with many other topics I’m discussing, leading a minimalist lifestyle is a process. For most this process will take years, but the rewards are well worth the effort! The main focus is to only own items you truly need. By doing so you are living more intentionally and adding more value to your life.

Leading a more simple lifestyle and starting to practice minimalism can help you save money, prevent unnecessary waste, and allows you the opportunity to slow down and enjoy life more. 

I used to find myself regularly going to Home Goods, Michaels, TJ MAXX, and Marshalls. Did I ever truly need things from these stores?  Honestly, no. Although I do love decorating my home and finding affordable personal items, I found that I was constantly grabbing things I didn’t need and adding clutter to my home.


You’ll notice that each of the 7 R’s of sustainability are intertwined.  When you start to really practice the first R of sustainability, Rethink, it will naturally lead you to the second R of sustainability, Refuse.  Below are some examples of how we can be REFUSING:


  • Refuse to purchase something just because it’s on sale. You are not saving money, you are spending less and there is a difference!
  • Before you go to the store, make a list and stick to purchasing only what is on the list.
  • When events, trade shows, and conferences return to the world, do not accept chotchkies like pens and other cheap plastic gadgets from vendors. (If you work for a company who produces items like these, consider spending your marketing budget elsewhere)
  • Unsubscribe from email lists and paper mailings. This will create less distractions throughout the day, eliminate the possibility you will purchase something you don’t need, and create less waste.
  • The world is drowning in plastic. Here are a few suggestions on how to refuse single use plastic and how to dispose of it responsibly if it cannot be refused:
  1. When ordering takeout be sure to refuse plastic cutlery and condiments
  2. Bring your own reusable stainless steel water bottle, coffee cup/mug
  3. Start transitioning to plastic free products for your home and family by supporting businesses like Unpacked Living
  4. Be very aware of what you already have in your home. Instead of throwing away or recycling containers when things are used up, offer the empty containers to a business or individual who can use them. There is a group on Facebook called Remember to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Repurpose, Recycle ♻️.  I highly recommend requesting to become a member if you are eager to reduce your plastic use and waste.

Refuse Summary

By refusing things you do not need, you are preventing them from entering your life and you are eliminating waste completely.

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