It’s not difficult to see the effects of wanton consumerism—streets flooding at the slightest hint of rain and rivers filled with all sorts of waste debris. We have not treated our planet tenderly, and now it’s getting back at us. As parents, such a situation is sordidly unfortunate. We hope, after all, to leave the world a better place for our children.
Fortunately, we can do our part to help heal the planet by committing to a zero-waste lifestyle.
The zero-waste lifestyle aims to rid households, be they condo units or single detached residences, of as much trash as possible. Take a look at the garbage your household produces every day. Multiply that by 365 days, and you’ll have a fairly good idea of how much waste your family produces, which eventually ends up in landfills all over the country.
While living a zero-waste lifestyle takes a bit more work and a whole lot of commitment, the result can be thoroughly fulfilling.
The 5 rules of zero-waste
Getting started on the zero-waste lifestyle is not all that difficult. You just need to commit to the following rules:
1. Refuse the non-essential.
Every day, we are offered things that we don’t really need—the plastic bag from the supermarket, the straw from the fast food store, the disposable pen at an event. All of these we can do away with, especially those that are only going to be used once. For good measure, always bring with you a reusable shopping bag. It’s also a good idea to bring along reusable utensils everywhere you go, just in case you have to take meals outside of your home. Have a straw made from bamboo or stainless steel with you so you need not use plastic ones. If you’re bringing a packed lunch, be sure to use a reusable container and tumbler.
2. Reduce the essential.
Start by opting for basic, whole food and steering clear of processed goodies stuffed with preservatives. By going for fresh ingredients, you not only do away with all that packaging, your family will get healthier too.
Commit to using less product as well, whether it’s dishwashing soap or shampoo. You’ll find that it works just as effectively whether you’re using a small drop or a big dollop. Later on, you might want to simplify your cleaning products by making your own. Vinegar and baking soda, for instance, do a great job at cleaning versus chemical cleaners with potentially toxic ingredients.
3. Reuse essentials.
Check your refrigerator. You are bound to have a fair amount of leftovers cooling off on one of the shelves, some of which will find their way to the garbage can. Put a spot on your weekly menu for leftovers. Better yet, plan your menu thoughtfully to avoid leftovers.
4. Recycle everything.
We’re all familiar with the concept of recycling, but are we doing it? When you commit to a zero-waste lifestyle, recycling must be one of your core values. Recycle bed linens, make them into pillow cases or hand towels. Recycle clothes, make them into rags. Recycle paper, make them into art projects for your kids. Recycle water, mix in your laundry’s last rinse into the garage cleanser.
Drop off recyclables at recycling centers. PEMA Plastic at 80 Mendez Road, Baesa, QC (3634593/3612844) recycles plastic. Chemrez at 65 Calle Industries, Bagumbayan, QC (6350680) recycles styrofoam. Ever Fortune Thermoplas at 42 Sto. Domingo, QC (7311291) recycles plastic cups.
5. Rot everything else.
Make a compost. You not only create a nutrient-rich humus for your plants with composting, you can also reduce your household waste by as much as 30 percent. You can compost carbon-rich matter such as dried leaves, sawdust, peels, shredded brown paper bags, coffee filters, and egg shells as well as nitrogen-rich matter like green leaves and garden clippings. For best results, your compost should be comprised of one-third green and two-thirds brown materials.
Start small. Take a heavy-duty garbage can. Punch aeration holes around the can and fill it with green and brown materials. Every once in a while, give the contents a stir to speed up the composting process. Your compost will be ready as early as three months to a year.
Build a community
Committing to a zero-waste lifestyle requires persistence, and you might find yourself faltering at times. This makes a support group very important. Join social media groups like Zero Waste Pilipinas, which holds office in Quezon City. At your condo, search for like-minded individuals to join your cause. Post a shoutout on Facebook.
Standing along Don Antonio Avenue in Commonwealth, Quezon City, the hyper-amenitized Commonwealth by Century is an ideal option for those committed to the zero-waste lifestyle. The city itself is receptive to the cause. Quezon City Ordinance No. SP-2140 and SP-2103 mandates reducing the use of plastic bags and collecting environmental fees for plastic bags used within the city. Likewise, support groups and recycling centers are a-plenty.
With the help of your condo neighbors, you can share tips and advice on living a zero-waste lifestyle, and making the world a better place for your children. Now that is definitely #condogoals.