I have always wanted to live a greener lifestyle but did not know where to begin. As a city dweller, I don’t have the space to plant my own food or to do composting. My food sources would usually be the wet markets and supermarkets, where plastic packaging overflows. It would seem that making eco-friendly choices is almost impossible. Every time I would open a packaged item and throw the many layers of plastic in the trash, I can feel this dark guilt inside like I’m part of the huge machinery that is destroying the planet.
Take baby steps is what they say. Buying metal straws is easy enough but it doesn’t really count. Some of the efforts is being done for us by the government (by passing ordinances that prohibit the use of plastic shopping bags, for example) and the private sector (starting to use biodegradable materials instead of plastic or styro packs). A huge part of the initiative, however, should come from us.
Do not think that you need to do all of it too soon. Here are three things you can do as a start:
Stay away from single-use plastic. If the product you need is available in paper, metal, or glass packaging, go for it even if it’s slightly more expensive than the plastic-packed counterpart. According to National Geographic, only 9 percent of plastic waste is being recycled. A lot of the plastic waste ends up in our oceans.
Get rid of the tingi mentality. Because it is more affordable, Filipinos are used to buying single-serve packs of almost anything from shampoo and cooking oil to coffee and chips. Unfortunately, this habit of ours means that more packaging, more plastic are being used and thrown away. So whenever possible, buy the largest container to save a little money, too.
If you can’t afford it, get a refill. There are stores like the Akbayanihan Ecostore (Facebook: Akbayanihan Ecostore) that sell refills of basic household items like cooking oil, soy sauce, vinegar, patis, shampoo, etc. They also encourage swapping used bottles (glass or plastic) in exchange for the container your items will come in. This is a great option for budget-conscious shoppers who can’t buy in bulk.
I tried buying some of my usual grocery items from the online store mentioned above. I paid for it via GCash and they delivered the items to my place on the same day. The eggs came in pulp trays and the sugar, detergent, and coffee were simply wrapped in brown paper bags. It’s great to note, too, that the goods are a lot cheaper than the supermarket alternatives.
If you are like me who can’t ignore that dark guilt any longer, take a baby step and start with something small today—like getting some of your basic household items from eco-friendly stores.
Photos courtesy of Akbayanihan Ecostore