Small Switches Make Big Changes: On Minimizing Waste

Going Zero Waste isn’t what you would call “convenient.” Why? Because the lifestyle rejects exactly that. We have been taught all our lives to look for shortcuts or the easy way out, that convenience is something to be happy about.

What everyone should know, however, is that convenience kills and trash also doesn’t just disappear into thin air. We are barely into the second month of this year and there are already more than 113 million tons of waste from households all over the world. The number moves as we speak.

What you can do as an average citizen is to reduce the amount of trash that goes to landfills. It is impossible to eradicate all waste at once so what you can look into is minimizing your existing trash.

Here are five quick and small changes you can make that have lasting positive contributions to the environment:

Reusable Bags

Photo from AliExpress

Photo from AliExpress

Pesky retail plastic bags end up scattered in the road, on trees, or, worse, in the ocean. While we only use plastic bags for an average of only 5 minutes, it may take up to 1000 years for plastic to decompose in a landfill. Fish and other marine animals can even choke or starve by confusing plastic bags for jellyfish.

Although paper bags dissolve faster than plastic, bringing a reusable bag everywhere you go is just one small task that can save the planet lots of trash. Bring a lightweight canvas bag with you before you leave the house. When you’re at a store counter, reject any kind of packaging – most shops will be happy to oblige.

Package-Free Soap

Image by Shreya X via Flickr Creative Commons

Image by Shreya X via Flickr Creative Commons

Every time you buy a bar of soap from the grocery, it comes in unnecessary carton or plastic packaging that – unless you’re really crafty – you’ll find absolutely no use for.

Lush Philippines uses paper bags for their products, but they can also hand you their soaps package-free. Just bring a handkerchief to wrap your soap with or a small, clean cloth pouch. The best part about buying them package-free is that there’s nothing in the way between you and the smell of the soap. Yum!

Stainless Steel Straws

Photo from FOOD52

Photo from FOOD52

What moved me to switch to stainless steel straws was this viral video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in her nose. It’s just awful how much all other living beings have to suffer for our convenience.

Paper straws aren’t exactly a favorable alternative because: first, they crumble from the liquid that passes through it; and second, any kind of paper is also unnecessary trash. Stainless steel straws, on the other hand, are easy to sip from and reducing the amount of plastic straw waste you produce.

I got my pair of stainless steel straws from Happy Blooms. The owner was kind enough to include the straw cleaners for free and deliver them to my village herself with no packaging at all.

Secondhand Shopping

Photo from Alibaba

Photo from Alibaba

The fast fashion industry has rendered clothes dispensable. People mercilessly throw one piece of clothing after another once new fashion trends come out. Because of this, the amount of textile trash each person produces reaches 80 pounds per year. Imagine how much waste there would be if the world population all contributed the same amount of trash.

Ever heard of that saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Another way to minimize the waste going around in this world is to shop secondhand. Ukay-ukay shops have endless options and high-end brands for just a quarter of its original price (maybe even less). We also have local online shops that sell thrifted and reclaimed clothing that you can check out.

Eating Vegan Meals

Image by Stephanie via Flickr Creative Commons

Image by Stephanie via Flickr Creative Commons

The meat and fish industry feeds billions of people, but it also hurts the environment. Not only do some factory workers abuse the animals; they also produce chemical waste from market processing. Vegan dishes, on the other hand, are made from natural ingredients with minimal to zero processing involved.

It isn’t easy going vegan. Full-fledged vegans meticulously prepare their own meals and take a lot of time searching for dairy-free products. But for those who have yet to transition or those who just want to have a look into the lifestyle, having vegan food delivered is also an option. There are several lunch and dessert deliveries in Makati City, but you might need to do research on vegan diners in your area.

I personally have most of my lunches delivered from Good Food Vegetarian. Their service is prompt and their delivery boys ride bicycles to our office – big reduction from their carbon footprint.

All these little changes are only little right now. But the key to changing your lifestyle is to think about the long run. Making these switches and doing them on a regular basis will definitely amount to something bigger.

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