Sustainability—we hear this term more often like a buzz word nowadays. ‘Sustainable design,’ ‘sustainable clothing,’ ‘sustainable industries’ are all the stuff of TED Talks and rallies around the world—and for good reason! So before you write it off as just another 2017 trend in the same realm as veganism, crossfit, and avocado toast, sustainable living is actually a lot easier to do than you think.
Gimmicks aside, all it really means is living as waste-free as you can. And If you’re still out here thinking, “why should I give a shit when I’m just one person in the grander scheme of things?,” consider this. By recycling just one glass bottle, you save enough electricity to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours while saving one aluminum can can run your TV for six hours, according to Go Green Initiative. Still not convinced even when all you have to do is literally step your foot outside and FEEL the climate change? A quick Google search for a carbon footprint calculator will tell you the exact impact you are making on the environment. This tool estimates the CO2 emissions which your daily activities cause — from the electricity your household consumes and the gas your car needs, to the flights you take, and more. But you don’t need a calculator to tell you that it’s probably a lot.
Now, I don’t claim to be the next Al Gore. The amount of single-use coffee cups I’ve purchased in my lifetime may probably be enough to form an island. I’m not proud of it, but thankfully, more and more brands are making green living more accessible. Scroll below, RT for awareness, and take ten (carbon foot) steps back to sustainable living.
1. Ditch the straw
When was the last time you ordered a drink from your usual food joint, took a straw, and chucked it into the trash can right after drinking? Probably this morning. And the morning before that. It’s become such a mundane part of our everyday routine that hardly anyone bats an eyelash. But did you know that the Philippines actually ranks third as the highest contributor of plastic waste in the ocean, despite having some of the world’s most beautiful seas? Yes, that’s more caramel macchiato straws than you could ever count. Get your own steel straws from Go Zero PH. Its beautiful pouches even come in different colors, and are sourced from and handwoven by Leyte locals.
2. Revamp your dental hygiene routine
Another unknowing culprit in our every day lives is just hiding in our bathroom cabinets. Over 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills every year. Fret not, you don’t have to sacrifice hygiene and fresh breath in the name of the environment. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush, like this one from Minka. Unlike your generic toothbrush, these have compostable handles. They even come in a charcoal bristle variant. Available online or in select Healthy Options branches.
3. Package-free is key
This one is a no-brainer, but always bring your own canvas bag. Whether you’re going grocery shopping or just want to sport a cute tote at the mall, it sure beats lugging around a plastic bag. We like this one from Outlines—rep environmental awareness and body positivity at the same time.
4. For the ladies, menstrual cups are your friends
Now this is something I have yet to try myself, but the number of people I know who do use it are preaching its gospel every month. According to Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation, the average woman throws out around 200 to 300 pounds of feminine hygiene products in her lifetime. But there is a way to greenify the crimson tide—menstrual cups! Not only are they more eco-friendly because of its reusability (good for YEARS), they are also the more hygienic and safer (goodbye toxic shock syndrome!) option. Read more about them here. Sinaya, a local brand, is built for the active Filipina.
5. Say no to fast fashion
I was once a notorious shopper who used retail therapy as a form of escapism. My neurons would go haywire at the mere mention of a mall sale. That changed when I saw The True Cost on Netflix (not a paid ad LOL), and I realized how much of an impact my nasty habit made not just on my wallet, but on the environment too. It takes 2,700 liters to produce a single cotton shirt — and where does it all go once the trend has passed and you’re ready to replace it with the next? Yup, you guessed it. Back to the landfills. Instead, embrace slow fashion and invest in quality pieces you can wear for years. Or better yet, buy secondhand. Denuo is a personal favorite of mine. Filled with one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, the brand focuses on reclaiming, upcycling, and repurposing through ethical practices.
6. Create your own eco-bricks
You know what they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Eco-bricks are literally just that. Basically, you take a plastic bottle and fill them with your non-biodegradable trash, such as plastic wrappers, foil, cloth, cigarette butts, and styrofoam. Afterwards, you can leave them at one of these designated drop-off points where they will be made into alternative materials for constructing walls, fences, and even houses. Read more about The Plastic Solution movement.
7. Go au naturel in your beauty routine
Just recently, I have had a friend try to convert me to the religion of natural beauty. She went on and on about how to make your own toothpaste and shampoo. But while you don’t have to get as crafty just yet, adopting a natural beauty routine is a good start. Make sure the brands you use are cruelty-free and made with eco-friendly ingredients. Mother Nature AND your skin will thank you. Check out local favorite Human Nature.
By Isabella Argosino
Header image by Chelsea Madamba