Aside from going vegan (surprise!) and cruelty free with the products that I am using, another thing that I am trying to do to lessen my carbon footprint is by reducing my trash, most especially plastic waste. While I think that it’s going to be hard for me to go zero waste, especially here in the Philippines, I could always do my part by being mindful and reducing what goes into our garbage cans.
In the US, 33.6 million tons of plastic gets discarded every year and only 6.5% of it gets recycled. What more in a third world country like ours? In a study done in 2015 by Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, our country was ranked the third biggest contributor of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. The country generates 2.7 million metric tons of plastic garbage each year, 20% or 521,000 tons of which ends up in the ocean.
Why is this a problem? Our oceans are dying, the animals are dying, this destroys the ecosystem and frankly we should all be taking this seriously and not just do something about it when we are already nearing the point of “the worse that is yet to come” – you know, like what we do with our health?
If you come to think of it, it is actually not so hard to reduce trash only if we are mindful about our actions. These are some of the simple things that I do to reduce mine.
- Always carry a reusable shopping bag – even when the stores are going to use paper bags, I say no to them because if I am carrying a reusable shopping bag, there is no point to bringing trash at home. If I don’t have my reusable shopping bag, I simply reschedule my grocery shopping day. If the item I bought is small, I skip the paper bag and just put the item in my bag (apologies for the redundancy) and make sure that I have the item receipt with me.
- Skip the straw – I hope by now that a lot of you have watched that turtle with a straw stucked on it’s nose and I hope that this is enough reason for you to not ask for plastic straws ever as well. Solution? Paper, bamboo and stainless steel straws. Of course aside from the straws, we should also say no to plastic utensils, I always ask the cashier or the waiter to not put plastic spoon and fork along with my take out, no condiments as well especially if you have those at home. I have this habit of buying taho every morning before I go to work, I take the cup as it is made out of paper anyway but always ask the kuya not to put cover and that no need for the spoon, straw and bag to put the taho in which are all made in – of course, plastic.
- Buy in bulk and buy package free – I wish we have bulk stores here in the Philippines like what a lot of people are currently enjoying in the Western countries, maybe I’d have my own someday but that is another story (lol). Why buy fruits and vegetables packaged in plastic when you can buy them package free? For now, I have only discovered one package free store in Manila and that is Ritual in Makati, I buy my package free raw cacao nibs, laundry soap and detergent powder from there. Please let me know if you know a place or a store in which I can buy food and other items package free. Our country needs more places like Ritual!
- Skip the plastic bottles – Most of what’s inside them is not good anyway, juice and sodas, those are just unnecessary added sugar. Not healthy. SKIP! Much better thing to do is bring a water bottle that you can refill, any reusable is better than disposable but much better to choose a food grade stainless steel as you’ll probably going to be able to use it your whole life. A win for your wallet and the environment.
- Choose the lesser evil – Buying rice, skip the one packaged in plastic. In SM they put it in paper bags, if buying from the market, bring a reusable canvass bag and ask the vendor to put it there. Liquid stuff. Soy sauce, vinegar, oil, opt for the ones that are in glass bottles or jars. All the other things, opt for something that would disintegrate faster (like paper) instead of plastic.
- And if you really can’t say no to plastic, make sure you are getting the recyclable one – As mentioned above, a very very small number of plastic gets recycled so I’d really prefer it not to be used anymore but if it’s inevitable, look for the symbols below, the ones with a check marks can be recycled. Segregate them and look into your local community on where we can give them.
There is so much more that still can be added here, I have just shared what I did to reduce my plastic wastes but since becoming more mindful of my actions and discovering Minimalism, I have reduced a lot of things but gained so much more in my life. I hope this inspires you to reduce your wastes as well.
Til next time, hopefully not months!