Let me preface this piece by saying I’m a long way away from achieving a zero-waste lifestyle. In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve barely begun.
For myself, and I assume for many others like me, it all started with that footage of marine biologists removing a plastic straw from a turtle’s nostril that went viral a few years back. (Apparently, it’s widely considered as the video that started it all.)
More recently, news of a whale dying in the Davao Gulf with 40kg of plastic in its stomach also made headlines worldwide as if we all needed another reminder of the negative impact our plastic use has on the environment.
Though this is only a microscopic view of the gigantic problem that plastic pollution is causing the world, it’s been enough for me to reevaluate the “small” choices I make in my daily life that contribute to this problem.
In the newest season of The Good Place, the show recently tackled how much harder it is to become a better person nowadays because of the many consequences of our seemingly inconsequential actions. Just when you think you’re only buying a harmless bouquet of roses to give to a loved one, you don’t know how those roses were treated with pesticides that harm the environment. Despite your good intentions, you’ve inadvertently supported something that impacted the world negatively in the grand scheme of things.
That said, there’s a lot we need to do to make up for the mistakes we’ve made that brought us here. We certainly can’t do it on our own, and the results won’t be instant. The important thing, however, is to recognize that we can help in our own little way and to actually commit to it.
Personally, it hasn’t been the easiest journey. Though I’m now more conscious of the products I use and the brands I support, there are still the very real struggles of changing old habits. If you’re willing to take baby steps now as I am, here’s my advice to help ease you in based on my own experiences!
Do your research. Going zero-waste definitely requires a level of “wokeness” to ensure you aren’t just blindly consuming products. What you may think is good for you and the environment may have adverse effects as well, so make sure you’re fully informed. Ask questions, read reviews, and ask for recommendations. Search for brands that you’re willing to bet on. Plus points if you find small local businesses to support. My first shampoo and conditioner bars were the EcobarPH Detox + Heal and Repair and Nourish respectively. They were quite hard to get, but I absolutely loved it for my hair that I’m looking to buy more once I’ve finished my current stash.
Image: Ecobar PH/Instagram
Plan ahead and save up. Making the first step is one of the hardest things to do, especially for creatures of habit like me. When you already have an attachment to brands that are easily within reach, that’s kind of hard to beat, so take it one step at a time. While finishing up whatever products you’re currently using, look carefully, purchase alternatives you like, and circle back if it doesn’t work. Yes, it’s easier said than done – there’s a lot of pain involved (i.e. bad hair days, acne breakouts, etc.) and money wasted in trial and error so exercise caution as well. The important thing is to start. The upside? Shopping! Up next on my list: Zero Basics’ Remineralizing Tooth Powder!
Prepare to step out of your comfort zone. One of the things I’m still psyching myself up for? Replacing my usuals pads for these Kanami Pasador Pantyliners, and, well, Sinaya Cup menstrual cups. I’m still mentally preparing for this bigger lifestyle change, but it’s on the list! One thing that’s easier to transition into, though, is replacing cotton rounds with these reusable and washable Amuma Cebu Facial Rounds to lessen my use of disposables in my beauty routine.
Stay disciplined. True story: When my shampoo bar was running out and getting harder to use because they were crumbling to pieces, it’s tempting to go back to what’s familiar. Try not to! In my search for more eco-friendly alternatives, I’ve managed to find ways to address my concerns such as these Paralúman Sisal Hemp Soap Savers. Another thing I’ve yet to try is melting the bars in recycled glass bottles to eliminate the hassle of tiny slivers of shampoo and conditioner just falling on the bathroom floor and getting washed away.
Forgive yourself. Of course, there will be days that you won’t be able to fulfill your promises 100%. The more important thing is to be aware of it and make up for it when you can. You won’t always be perfect, but your desire to do better will only strengthen your commitment as you go through the motions. Eyes on the prize! Like they sang in High School Musical, we’re all in this together.
Encourage your friends to commit! I find that living by example is the best way to convince others to start thinking about changing their beauty routines. Imagine how big each of our small steps can become if we all do it together! It’s also great to have more people to talk to about their latest finds and tried-and-tested recommendations.