I can’t exactly pin-point the exact time I started paying attention to our environment. I’ve always admired activists and friends who fought to keep our surroundings clean. Admired those working for NGOs that don’t care that they are not getting paid to clean the world we live in and look after animals that we are living with.
It may have started when I was given a set of utensils to carry around in my bag for Christmas more than 7 years ago. Or when I watched a video of that poor turtle with a straw stuck up its nose. Or when I bought my first Klean Kanteen bottle, not only because it kept my drink cold for more than a day, but because I didn’t have to keep buying bottles of water.
Whenever it started, this is now and this is my push for a life of reusable items and zero-waste.
There have been a few events recently promoting zero-waste as it now getting a lot of attention. People are starting to see the effects of one-time use of items on our environment because of natural disasters. Rubbish has ever since been clogging up our drainage system and the amount of rubbish washed up to shore when there is a storm is appalling.
The way we treat this situation really starts with each person and how we treat our own environment. Here are a few things that I’ve starting doing to take part in living in a zero-waste world.
- Reusable bags: I’ve actually been using resuable grocery bags for quite some time now. It took a while for supermarkets to jump on the bandwagon and promote the use of reusable bags, but it has improved a lot and we are getting there. I am hoping that supermarkets would stop using those thin bags though and for the next steps, I’ll be bringing my own container for meet.
- Metal Straws: As mentioned above, I had seen a clip of a straw being taken out of a turtle’s nose and that was when I decided to stop using plastic straws. I do still have to improve on this as there are times that either I’d forgotten my metal straw or forgotten to tell them to not put a plastic straw with my drink. It would’ve been easy to just drink from the cup but I don’t trust the cleanliness of the cups they use in fastfood chains or food courts and I don’t want my drink in a plastic cup. I’ve since bought more metal straws so that I always have one in all the bags I use. I’ve also given a set to my niece, but I know it’ll take a while before she learns how to properly use them.
- Klean Klanteen: I first came across this brand a couple of years ago when I cycled around Marinduque island with a few friends. My friend and human rights advocate Nityalila strongly recommended this bottle because it kept your coffee hot for long, and your cold drinks for longer. I’ve since purchased 5 for my own use and have already given away 3. Since buying these bottles, I’ve also influenced my mum and niece into using them, and even my 6-year old nephew carries one to school.
- Utensils: I was gifted a set of utensils and chopsticks a few years ago when I first started working here in the Philippines. I wasn’t used to bringing my own lunch to work and often relied on take-out but it wasn’t until recently that I started carrying these utensils in my bag.
- Silicone Cup: I just recently purchased this and to be honest, I’ve really only used this twice. But the idea that I have a folded cup in my bag that is ready to use keeps me at peace. It’s not really ideal for hot drinks, which was what I used it for the first time, but I took this cup along on a hike and was able to share some cold drinks around.
- Beeswax Food Wrap: Another item influenced by Nityalila. I bought a set online but wasn’t impressed with the cut and could barely wrap a sandwich and so over the weekend, I found a stall by Daniela Calumba at The Good Trade, A zero-waste + sustainable fair that sold better quality wraps. I can’t wait to use these this week as I’m back to taking sandwiches for lunch to work and I also plan on sending a set over to my niece in the province. I just recently found out that there was an issue with the waste management system or the lack thereof and I saw that my niece was using ziplock sandwich bags for her Nutella sandwiches.
- Silicone Food Bag: This was just a recent discovery, thanks to Druid Things. I just bought this yesterday but I plan on using this to store cut up fruits to take to work and also to use to marinade chicken for my butter chicken.
- Insect Repellent: The ingredients of this insect repellent got me interested in this product and the reason for its packaging pushed me to purchase it. Purchased from Zero Basics, I was told that the reason why their products came in large bottles was so that people are not prone to purchasing more of the same product, therefore minimising waste. A couple of years back when my sister and nephews spent the holidays in the Philippines, she had brought over a small bottle of herbal insect repellent for the kids that contained lemongrass oil, fennel oil and other herbal extracts. This product contains the same elements as well as eucalyptus oil.
- Deodorant: Also purchased from Zero Basics, this is the first non-branded deodorant I’ve purchased and although I haven’t used it, what attracted me to this was the fact that it contains a special blend of natural oils and apparently provides 24-hour protection from sweat and odor. I’m used to buying branded roll-on deodorants and after cleaning my dresser shelf, I noticed the number of wasted deodorant bottles. At least with this refillable large bottle, I can minimise waste from buying multiple deodorant bottles.
- Ecobar: Another product influenced by my friend Monique and Druid Things, I was able to snag this from the weekend’s event. For a couple of months now, I’ve been using Zenutrients Shampoo and Conditioner with Gugo to thicken and strengthen my hair while it’s been doing awesome things to my hair, I needed something that was more environmentally friendly. Once I’m done with the Shampoo and Conditioner, I am moving onto these shampoo bars.
- Bamboo Toothbrush: I’ve recently started using this because I noticed how much plastic we waste when buying plastic toothbrush, especially since we have to replace them every 3 months. I switched to this to again, minimise the plastic waste.
I hope that I can influence my family and peers around me to lead a more environmentally-friendly life. I can’t say that I am completely not using plastic as it is something that we can’t avoid. However, the little things to minimise one-time-use plastic goes a very long way. I am not a tree-hugger, but at least I know that I am doing my own part.