WAYS TO ACHIEVE ZERO WASTE
While January is the country’s National Zero Waste Month, helping reduce waste should be an all-year round habit.
Since the world’s first fully synthetic plastic was invented in 1907 by Leo Baekeland, the material has taken over day-today living. Achieving a zero-waste life feels like an impossible mission especially when the usage of plastics skyrocketed post-World War II. At this point, the use of plastic has been the biggest game-changer in terms of convenience. Plastic bags are more versatile and durable than their paper, glass, and ceramic counterparts. However, every action has its limitations and consequences; and it took a threatening reminder for us to realize that sobering fact.
In a solid waste management assessment done by Tetra Tech in July 2020, the Philippines was identified as the third-highest country in terms of plastic waste contribution to the ocean. About 1.9 million metric tons of plastics from our islands end up in the ocean every year.
Every January, the country celebrates National Zero Waste Month. This is in compliance with Republic Act (RA) 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. Said law mandates local government units to reduce waste to at least 25 percent through integrated solid waste management, with the help of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle).
Zero Waste International Alliance defines ‘zero waste’ as “The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”
ACHIEVE ZERO WASTE AT HOME THIS 2023
Segregation is the start of proper waste management. When done right, it becomes easy to identify which ones are ready to be thrown away and which ones can be recycled. Prepare a clean container and separate the dry and wet wastes. The dry wastes can be separated into categories such as plastics, paper, and glass.
BRING ECOBAGS/REUSABLE CONTAINERS WHEN BUYING GROCERIES
Certain department stores and groceries encourage the use of reusable bags by no longer providing plastic bags and as an alternative, they can provide ecobags. By bringing your own, you can save yourself the hassle of bringing multiple plastic bags while also saving your money by not purchasing more ecobags than needed.
BUY IN BULK
There are numerous advantages to buying products in bulk. One obvious reason is bulk orders use significantly less packaging. Besides, bottles of bigger variants are usually reusable or refillable. Contrary to popular belief, buying products in bigger sizes actually saves you money.
DONATE YOUR PRELOVED POSSESSIONS
Old and preloved possessions do not necessarily have to go straight to landfills. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A good way to start zeroing your waste is to gather all the things that you haven’t used in a long while or no longer find useful that are still functional, wearable, or clean. After sorting them or washing them, you could donate them to charities or even earn some money by selling them online.
As we learned in introductory science class, trees reduce flooding because the roots absorb the water. And paper production is just one of the biggest reasons humans have to cut down trees. We use paper for school, work, and personal hygiene every day. As much as we can, use more sustainable and reusable alternatives—choose handkerchiefs over facial tissues, go paperless with your sketches and to-do lists at work, or email instead of sending a physical letter.
REPURPOSE YOUR CLOTHES
Like plastics, clothes take a lifetime to dissolve. For clothes that have some minor damage, have them repaired by a dressmaker. If a piece of clothing can no longer be used, repurpose it as a hand dryer or a kitchen rag. Denim jeans can be turned into a cute coin purse, a book sleeve or a laptop bag.
WHERE TO SEND YOUR WASTES
THE PLASTIC FLAMINGO
The Plastic Flamingo (Plaf) is a social enterprise that collects plastic wastes from microwavable containers, shampoo bottles, and disposable utensils, to online shopping bags. Plaf converts these plastics into recycled and recyclable construction materials and furniture. It partnered with numerous malls and brands nationwide where you can drop off your plastic waste— Jollibee (Fairview, Quezon City, and North Caloocan branches), Decathlon (Masinag, Alabang, and Pasig branches), and Bench (SM Megamall, Trinoma, and Robinsons Place Manila). Some brand partners also give gift certificates as a reward for dropping off your plastics. Check out www.theplaf.com to see more drop-off places or message them on their Facebook page.
Green Space is a food waste composting company that allows people to compost their food waste with the use of a bucket. All you have to do is collect your food waste and schedule a pickup. Food wastes are used as a fertilizer to produce healthier soil for planting. Check out their affordable offers on their composting services posted on shop.greenspace.ph.
GREEN ANTZ BUILDERS, INC.
Green Antz also collects PET bottles and high-density polyethylene such as milk jugs, toothpaste tubes, and cooking oil containers. They transform solid wastes into construction and infrastructure supplies and agricultural solutions. The good thing about Green Antz is they also accept plastics from online shops and eco-bottles, made by filling plastic bottles with single-use plastic bags. You can meet their collecting team at the entrances of Ayala Malls Vertis and Feliz, Salcedo Market, and Bonifacio High Street every Saturday.
ENVIROTECH WASTE RECYCLING, INC.
Envirotech offers complete plastic waste management services, from collection to recycling. They collect plastics and transform such into classroom chairs, benches, tiles, planks, garbage bins, and more. They also partner with big companies in reducing waste that end up in landfills and make useful materials out of total waste. Envirotech has a site in Cainta, Rizal where you can drop off your cleaned plastic waste.
According to Envirotech President and CEO Winchester O. Lemen:
• 30 kilograms of plastic = 1 chair
• 300 pieces of 500 ml bottle = 1 chair
• 2,181 pieces of sando bag = 1 chair
• 10,000 pieces of candy wrapper= 1 chair