Updated: Apr 16
Giving free stuff away is easy marketing for a lot of businesses. However, most of this is discarded fast after someone has received it. This is not only a waste of money for the business but also a lot of waste in general if the received product is not used. Below you can find a list of 20 items that you can easily refuse to reduce your waste production.
Individual serving bags like the peanut bag you receive in an airplane.
Straws. Especially if you don’t need one, you can drink without a straw.
Disposable cups. Whether you are in a coffee shop or at a conference, you can bring your own reusable cup.
Individually packed candy. Like the mints, you sometimes receive in a restaurant, the chocolates on your pillow in a hotel or candy for your kids.
Free soap at hotels. Don’t take what you don’t need.
Free samples. This is often a paper-like package lined with plastic. For example, the samples for shampoo or make up.
Coffee creamer cups. If you want something like milk in your coffee or tea, ask for milk if available or go without.
Individually packed sauce portion packages.
Individually packed sugar/salt portion packages. Sugar and salt are some of the easiest products to buy in bulk.
Plastic and wooden drink stirrers. Bring your own container for the leftovers when you go out to a restaurant that serves large portions.
Disposable takeaway boxes or to-go boxes. Bring your own container for the leftovers when you go out to a restaurant who serve large portions.
Paper napkins. Don’t take it if you don’t need it. You can also refuse napkins that the waiter distributes at restaurants.
Disposable utensils. I have a stainless steel spork that lives in my bag, just in case.
Wet wipes. The individually packed ones have a packing lined with plastic so, if possible wash your hand. Have any idea what is in these wet wipes? Read more about reusable wipes here.
Plastic bags for single purchases. In the Netherlands, where I live, the laws have changed and shops can’t give plastic bags away anymore. Customers need to purchase one and these are expensive (€0,20 per bag). This has reduced plastic consumption but this is not the case everywhere. Most purchases are put in bags almost as soon as you put them on the counter. Try to be fast and refuse the bag anyway where possible.
Receipts. Printing is optional and if you need the receipt, it can be e-mailed to you. Did you know that receipt paper can contain BPA, which can disrupt your hormone system?
Plastic produce bags. You wash your veggies before you eat them right? So, no need for a plastic bag.
Plastic packaging. Go for cardboard boxes instead of plastic. Better yet, buy package free if possible.
Bottled water. Especially if you live in a place where tap water is safe to drink, you can fill up your own water bottle.
Free pens. Easy to refuse and I am sure you have plenty of those already.
I hope this list gives you an overview of all the useless stuff people try to force on use regularly. Try to be conscious about it and refuse a much as possible.