A Zero Waste Living Starter Guide
Today, more than 90% of garbage produced every day end up in our landfills and oceans. Let’s stop and think about that for a while. All the non-biodegradable items we consume go back to the earth once we’re done using them and end up staying there for longer than we’re alive. We see this manifested in our dirty rivers and oceans, news of sea creatures dying from accidentally eating plastic, and the flooding in key areas of the city. This waste problem has clearly gotten too prevalent to ignore.
We know that these environmental issues are best addressed on a systemic level. Plus, the weight of this problem can be daunting for individuals. But we also believe in the power of small steps to shift the culture. People vote with their peso and can influence institutions to have practices that are more compassionate towards the earth and everyone living in it.
To help you in your journey to a lifestyle that’s kinder and more thoughtful for the planet, we created this Zero Waste Living Starter Guide that includes 5 tips, along with recommendations of long-lasting and artisan-made products, to make your shift to zero or minimal waste journey much easier.
1. Bring around your own set of reusable cutleries
One of the easiest ways to avoid disposable plastic is to be prepared. By bringing along a reusable cutlery set that contains all the essentials you need for eating and drinking out, you will be able to enjoy your food without creating unnecessary waste.
2. Say no to bottled water––or any other drinks served in plastic bottles and cups
Plastic bottles are the most common items in landfills and they’re also very hard to recycle. Use a reusable tumbler and refill it as you please so you won’t have to resort to buying bottled drinks whenever you get thirsty.
This is also applicable to buying drinks for takeout. Most coffee shops even give a discount when you ask them to serve your takeout drink in a tumbler you brought along!
3. Instead of using disposables for your everyday needs, choose items that last longer and can be reused
We are usually not aware of it but a lot of things we use on a daily basis are made out of materials that are harmful to the planet. When we throw them away once we’re done with them, they add up to the growing waste problem. The solution to this is shifting from a disposable mentality to a reusable one.
There are now so many more longterm and reusable alternatives, especially the ones we use in our vanity. For example, wet wipes and other single-use makeup removers contain non-biodegradable plastic, littering beaches and clogging drains. By using a reusable version that’s respectful of your skin and the environment, you will be able to produce less trash and also save up resources and money.
Even the items we use for our menstruation can be eco-friendly. The alternative to disposable napkins and tampons is the menstrual cup, which can be used throughout your cycles for two or more years, diverting hundreds of non-biodegradable toxic plastic napkin wastes from our landfills and environment. Plus, when you use a menstrual cup, you won’t need to buy napkins and tampons each month, cutting your menstrual product expenses by a lot.
4. When you can’t say no to disposable items, opt for disposable alternatives that are biodegradable
Sometimes, it’s just difficult to avoid waste or to an alternative that’s reusable and friendly to the earth. The next best thing is to use items that are made out of natural and biodegradable materials so it won’t harm the planet when it’s time for you to dispose of it.
A simple and easy example is switching your regular toothbrush with a bamboo toothbrush that's biodegradable.
5. When you can, go package-free
One thing we don’t really take notice is the packaging of the everyday items we use. They’re mostly made out of non-biodegradable items that when we throw them away, they proceed to litter the planet. Good thing there are now options for package-free or items sold in recyclable or refillable containers, from food to beauty products.
Organic, easy-to-use and family-friendly soap bars packed without plastic are the best package-free alternative for refreshing and scented showers.
There are also liquid soaps that come in non-plastic containers that can be reused, recycled, or refilled so you can opt for that as well!
Shifting to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight and the most important thing is to be willing to learn and improve. It’s best to do this with other people so create a support group within your social circle or find one online through Facebook groups like Buhay Zero Waste and Sustainable Manila - Zero-Waste Community.
As for all the plastic waste you still produce, find a better alternative than the trash can. Learn how to make your own eco-brick here via The Plastic Solution and give your garbage a second life.