January is Zero Waste Month in the Philippines. In celebration, i decided to do my own beginner’s guide to zero wasting! Hopefully, this will help people to start their own journey.
STEP 1: Identify the source of your trash and know how much trash you generate.
How? Simple. Look at your basurahan (trash can). Like really stare at it. Then, identify and describe the contents of your basurahan. Are they mostly food wrappers? Tissue papers? Are biodegradable and nonbiodegradable stuff together?
If you share a basurahan with other people, do this experiment: after reading this blog post, get a plastic bottle. Stuff all of your day’s trash in that bottle. If you want a little challenge, make it three days or a week. After that duration, identify and describe the contents of the bottle. After three days, is it almost full?
***I really encourage you to do Step 1 first before going on. Come back to this page when you’re done with Step 1. :)***
STEP 2: Learn how to refuse.
After Step 1, you probably realize now how much trash you generate as a single person (maximum of 1 kg per day if you’re in Metro Manila; imagine then how much a household generates!) and where your trash comes from (yes, trash doesn’t just happen; you are directly responsible for it). You probably now realize too that, yes, all of those trash will most likely end up in landfills. (I get your shock. I’ve been there too.)
So now that you know where your trash comes from, learn how to refuse them. If you found plastic straws in your trash, then from now on refuse straws. If you found too much food wrapper, then avoid buying food in wrappers/packaging. If you found single-use plastics, then refuse single-use plastics.
STEP 3: Ask questions then develop new habits. Also: google alternatives and solutions.
How to avoid then plastic utensils? Bring your own reusable utensils.
What if i get thirsty and i need to buy a bottle of water? You should bring your own water.
How about menstruation? There’s such a thing as menstrual cups. :’)
How about food waste? Compost.
MMDA data showed that the No. 1 type of waste thrown in 2016 was kitchen waste, which accounted for 33.67 percent of the more than 9,000 tons of garbage collected per day.
How about personal care products that are packaged? There are tons of alternatives!
What shall i do with tons of paper? Reuse the back side. If that can’t be done, sell them to junk shops. May pera sa basura!
Once you get a whole picture of where your trash comes from, you’ll have a clear idea not only on how to avoid them, but also on how to deal with them properly.
STEP 4: Join The Plastic Solution.
Zero waste can be a challenge here as zero waste alternatives are not yet widely available. Ritual is the only totally package-free store at the moment. (But then there are now online zero waste stores which i will soon blog about.) In addition, refusing stuff can be quite a challenge too. As such, it’s quite understandable to fall short and resort to convenience once in a while. (Well, for now. The aim is still to go close to zero.) It’s important to understand that zero waste does not happen overnight or even over a year.
Good thing, there’s The Plastic Solution, a movement that aims to repurpose nonbiodegradable trash as ecobricks. So if you happen to still make trash and don’t know how to deal with it, stuff it in a plastic bottle. Once full, turn it over to their drop-off centers so that it can be used to build low-cost constructions.
And that’s it. That is zero wasting. It’s simple and doable. Doing these steps may be challenging at first. But when you’re committed, they easily become new habits.
And zero wasting doesn’t end there. It’s a life-long commitment. Simultaneously you’ll learn about mindfulness and minimalism. Immediately you will realize there is no turning back. There’s only going forward, towards becoming kinder to the planet.