Article by Denise Nicole Uy/Graphics by Clarence Abiera
The scorching heat of Manila in the summer is a lot for anyone to handle, but climate change is making the heat even more unbearable. As such, a lot of people are doing what they can to minimize their carbon footprint in small ways. You might know someone who uses a recyclable bag when shopping, for example, or a metal straw when eating out.
The zero-waste lifestyle has been getting a lot of attention and we were privileged enough to speak to AJ Intia, who documents his zero-waste journey on his Instagram account @lesserbetter). He shared his experience with us and gave us advice on how to start our own zero-waste journey.
4 Easy Steps to Jumpstart Your Zero-Waste Journey
Step One: Find Your Reason
Going zero-waste is a daunting task with nearly everything being packaged in plastic nowadays. It takes a conscious effort on our parts to change our habits. The important thing to get started is to find out why you want to do this in the first place.
AJ says finding the essence of what you’re doing is essential to keep you motivated in your advocacy. For him, he saw a lot of plastic floating along the streets whenever it flooded in Cebu City (where he’s from). As for me, I started my own zero-waste journey after seeing how many poor animals end up suffering because of our plastic. Whatever your reason, keep it close and let it motivate you!
Step Two: Evaluate Your Trash and Your Life
Congratulations on finding your reason! The next step you need to take is to take a good look at your lifestyle and trash to find out what you can replace with eco-friendly alternatives! Remember: reducing waste is more important than recycling; so if you can get rid of some things, then all the better. For AJ, most of his trash involved hygiene products and bathroom essentials, so he started off by replacing his toothbrush with a bamboo alternative.
The great part is that this first step eventually led him to make his own skincare products, so that he could avoid plastic packaging even further! He now uses raw honey to wash his face, apple cider vinegar diluted with water as his toner, and virgin coconut oil as his moisturizer. Now that’s what we call skincare goals!
But while making our own skincare products might be a good cost-efficient way to save the environment, a lot of us might not be ready to give up our beloved sheet masks just yet. Fear not! There are more ways to reduce your waste.
Step Three: Say Bye-Bye to Plastic!
It’s been years since bringing a reusable tote bag with us while shopping has been the norm, nut you can take thing further with these steps! One of the easiest steps to lessen your waste is to bring a reusable water bottle wherever you go. It goes without saying that you need water to stay hydrated, but that doesn’t mean you constantly have to buy plastic water bottles. If you’re in school or at work, there will most likely be areas where you can refill your bottles for free!
But what if you want to treat yourself with your favorite iced coffee? Well, you can still use your bottle there, as well. Some coffee shops will even take a few pesos off of your bill for it! Sweet! Make sure to bring a reusable straw, too, to ensure that poor baby animals don’t end up eating them in the ocean.
Step Four: Take More Steps!
While going zero-waste is the first step, it is also important to educate other people about its impact. Change comes with awareness and AJ has been using his social media platform in order to educate others and give them alternatives. He started motivating his friends and workmates to avoid plastic straws (save the turtles!) and it made him so happy when they started buying metal straws for themselves!
Plastic bottles, plastic bags, and plastic utensils are one of the most common things we use everyday that add up to a lot fo waste over time. Getting rid of these things may seem like a small step, but it is already a great help at making the world a little greener. Going zero-waste isn’t easy, so don’t be discouraged in the beginning. Like most things, consistency is key. Now go make Mother Nature smile!