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.
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 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).
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.
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