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Sometime in 2014, a Facebook post caught my attention and it stuck with me until today.

It was the story about Lauren Singer, a 20-something New Yorker who has been living zero waste, a lifestyle that focuses on producing little to no trash, meaning nothing gets sent to landfill. Her purpose and cause really resonated with me as I was always concerned about the environment but didn’t really know what measures or practices I could do on a personal level.

MUSIC FEST TRASH - The only trash I produced at a recent music festival.
MUSIC FEST TRASH – The only trash I produced at a recent music festival.

It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I made it a personal goal to follow in Singer’s footsteps. After following her blog, Trash Is For Tossers, I also started exploring other blogs and social media accounts that revolved around living zero waste.

However, I noticed that everyone I followed lives in first world countries like Germany, Australia and the U.S. I haven’t found anyone living in the Philippines, or in Metro Manila for that matter, who is actively documenting their experience. This made it all the more challenging for me since I had no one to base my experiences on. I had to research on my own, and find out where to source everything… and I still am.

The first step I took was to evaluate which areas of my life produced the most trash. Once I figured those out, I did a lot of research. I’m in the process of slowly replacing them with their zero waste counterparts.

ZERO WAST TOOTHPASTE -- DIY your own toothpaste with only three ingredients.

Zero waste involves a lot of D.I.Y., being conscientious about what I buy and how I buy things, and it definitely involves a lot of extra preparation. Going zero waste also meant being less shy: I actively have to explain to servers, bartenders and even friends and family why I don’t need that straw in my iced tea.

A couple of weeks after I “officially” started, I decided to start documenting my experience by starting a blog. Its main purpose is to track my progress, what small changes I’ve been making to alter my day-to-day routine, but I eventually want it to develop into a resource page for anyone who wants to start living zero waste (if not completely, then to some degree at least).

BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH -- One of my first swaps: Replaced my plastic toothbrush with a compostable bamboo toothbrush by MINKA.
BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH — One of my first swaps: Replaced my plastic toothbrush with a compostable bamboo toothbrush by MINKA.

The idea of it, of going completely trash free still is a bit overwhelming. There are times when I get frustrated. After all, it is a major shift in how I used to live. What makes it difficult is that the Pinoy consumer culture still doesn’t support this kind of lifestyle. How do you live zero waste in a place like Manila? Everything from street food to high-end products come in some form of packaging. I have yet to come across a local bulk and package-free shop like the Original Unverpackt in Berlin.

But before I wait on our socio-economic landscape to catch up to Germany’s or for my local government to act on the trash problem, I decided to start with myself. There are times when I still get frustrated but I have to remind myself though that this isn’t an overnight change. After all, it is a major shift in lifestyle. It helps to take it one day at a time. It started out with the little things: saying no to straws, using a bamboo toothbrush instead of the plastic kind, and opting not to buy bottled water. Zero waste is simply swapping bad habits for better choices.

Blog: http://minimalmanila.tumblr.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/minimalmanila

Instragram: @_minimalmanila

 

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