How to kickstart a zero waste lifestyle without spending on new things

Marj Casal Handog
You don’t need to buy a spanking new canteen to start going green

MANILA, Philippines – What comes to mind when you hear “zero waste lifestyle”? Metal straws, probably or those sleek canteens and rustic wooden pairs of spoon and fork. It is considered a lifestyle after all.

And that’s a good thing. We welcome all kinds of efforts to protect the environment. We are all for trying our best to avoid another crab trapped in #PlasticMonster or whale with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach.

However, buying new canvas tote bags or shampoo bars might not be practical for everyone. That’s fine. Reducing your waste doesn’t mean replacing all your things with the “prescribed” ones that you see on Instagram and other how to articles.

You can start anytime by using what you already have.

Bring reusable utensils you usually use at home

One of the ways to reduce your waste when eating out is by bringing your own utensils. Who doesn’t have a pair of spoon and fork at home? Just wrap your utensils in a towel or handkerchief and you’re ready to go. No need to buy a new set with fancy packaging.

Use whatever tumbler you have even if it’s made out of plastic

How often do you get tumblers as souvenirs? There’s probably one lying around your house right now. It may be made out of plastic but it wouldn’t be a waste if you start using it instead of throwing it away. The sleek canteens you see on Instagram can be very pricey so if you really want to reduce your waste, don’t just do it for the ‘gram, use whatever reusable container that’s available.

Reuse the eco or plastic bags you get from grocery stores

Another easy way to reduce your waste is by bringing your own shopping bags whenever you go to the grocery or to the market. This, again, is something you don’t have to spend money on. A canvas tote bag may look nice to carry around but those eco bags you get as souvenirs or from stores and even plastic bags you have at home can also do the job. Plastic won’t become a #PlasticMonster if you don’t let it.

Segregate your waste

This one is an oldie but a goody and is something that a lot of people have yet to try. Segregate your waste so you can keep the recyclables and take it to a junk shop or even recycle it yourself. You can also try composting your food waste and once you’re ready to take it to the next level, even try planting your own vegetables.

Knowing the bigger picture

Besides doing these little things to do your part in saving the environment, it’s also important to know the bigger picture and how we can all make a much bigger impact. Watch documentaries and read articles about how transitioning to a more sustainable energy is what can best help us curb our environmental problems.

Opting for a cleaner source of energy like natural gas is one of the first steps that takes us closer to a more sustainable future. It’s reliable and affordable. It will also help us slowly but surely decrease our dependence on coal. Since we can’t just convert to renewables overnight, using natural gas to transition makes sure that our life is not interrupted as we move towards using renewable sources of energy.  

There are many ways to care for our planet. No matter how big or small, it all counts. –

Marj Casal Handog

Marj Casal heads the content team of BrandRap, Rappler’s sales and marketing arm. She helps create native advertising campaigns for brands like San Miguel Brewery, Shell, GCash, Grab, BDO, and more.