Refuse. Refuse those free pens. Refuse is one of the less common Rs you’ll see mentioned. Just say no to those freebies you don’t need. You can politely refuse or stay away from free items on tables, at offices, parties, work, events, conferences, etc. Most of these items aren’t made to last long and are going to be hard or difficult to refill, reuse or refill. If you are comfortable speaking up, talk to the host about why you are refusing these types of items. If there is something more durable you’d like to see branded or offered recommend it. Having an alternative option is helpful and may make your host more inclined to provide more sustainable options and make greener choices.
If you do end up with a lot of these types of items or are doing a cleanout, ask your doctors’ offices about pens, your library about pencils and consider posting the other items like cups, bags, lanyards, etc. on Buy Nothing or Next Door. My allergy and asthma doctor’s office uses these types of pens for paperwork and started this practice during Covid and continues it today. In Austin, @austincreativereuse accepts donations on many of these items to resell, keep them out of the landfill, and offer low cost crafts and items to our community. Those on the sides of roads may appreciate your reusable water bottle or bags. Writing utensils are recyclable for free in a Crayola program so check with your local schools, or one of TerraCycle’s programs.
I encourage you not to feel like you need to accept swag and freebies and then find a place that will use those things. There are always greener options available to groups for example on pens, people can bring their own pen which I prefer to do or refillable pens can be sanitized.
What R are you working on right now or practiced today?