The fourth “R” is Refuse by Beth Jezier

view of forest from above

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. There is a fourth R. Refuse.

Just a few years ago here in Southern California the drought was so bad that restaurants stopped automatically serving water to patrons. There was often a little tent on the table that explained the situation and said water would be served upon request. At first it was kind of shocking. Like anything, we got used to it and saw the virtue in the choice. I often asked for the water. But not always. When I am looking forward to that first sip of cold beer or ice tea on a summer day I don’t need the water. Good to have a choice. Better to not waste any water.

It seems that this practice has gone away. We are still in a drought, and need to be conscious of how precious water is. We can use the fourth R. Refuse the water politely if we don’t want it.

We got used to saying NO to single use plastic bags. Now, many of us grab our cloth bags without a second thought.

Another use of the fourth R is for plastic straws. I realize that if you have a carload of kids, having straws is really helpful for keeping the liquids off the car seats and the kids. There are also people with special abilities that find straws very helpful. But as adults, do we really need sippy cups?

Compostable and paper straws are available as well for our homes. I know that there are issues with all of these choices. But plastic straws? They pollute our oceans, rivers and may persist in the environment for up to 200 years. In 2017 a video came out that showed people removing a straw from the nostril of a sea turtle. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It was a wake up call for me. I also realize that straws are a very small part of the plastic issue. But let’s help wherever we can. So, go ahead and exercise your right of refusal!

These small steps can make a huge impact. Thanks for being a good Earthling!


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