Have you ever considered that the first toothbrush you’ve ever used is out there somewhere?
When things are out of sight—down the trash bin and off to the dumpster, never to be seen by you again—they’re definitely out of mind. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re completely gone. Chances are the first napkin you’ve used the first time you got your period, or even the plastic bags you used for grocery shopping five years ago are just sitting in a landfill somewhere. They’ll be there for a while, as plastic takes decades, sometimes centuries to be decomposed.
A heightened awareness of this problem has led to people adopting a zero-waste lifestyle, and while it’s hard to achieve perfectly, a lessened amount of the waste we generate makes a significant difference. It does require changing some habits and forming new ones, but Mother Earth will thank you, and so will generations of people to come.
Here are some products you can use instead of single-use plastics, although before you whip out your wallets, consider this: Determine what you can use or reuse first, and buy as a last resort. For instance, there’s no point discarding your home’s existing supply of toothbrushes to replace them with the bamboo versions now—instead, buy them the next time you need to restock. Also, there’s no need to get fancy cutlery sets (unless you really need collapsible ones), as an extra pair of utensils from your home will do just fine.
Move over, plastic wraps. Beeswax wraps are an eco-friendly alternative made from organic cotton coated in jojoba oil, tree resin, and beeswax. You can use these wraps as you do any cling wrap, from packing sandwiches to covering open containers to pack sandwiches, cover open containers, and even keep food in the freezer. Beeswax wraps are reusable for over a year, after which they are easily composted.
Buy from: Cebu Eco Fix
A lot of people are intimidated at the thought of menstrual cups, which are silicone cups designed to be inserted in the body and catch your menstrual blood. But if you’ve lived with having a period for years, there’s really no reason to be squeamish; in fact, once you get the hang of using them, it’ll be the cleanest you’ll ever feel with your period. And if you’re feeling icky about inserting something up there, don’t be—it’s a good way of learning more about your body. Menstrual cups are good for up to 10 years, although some manufacturers will recommend changing after five.
A few important notes: Every woman is different, and there are varieties of cups to cater to every shape and need. Check your cervix height, and take the quiz on putacupinit.com to narrow down your options. Invest in well-known brands that use medical-grade silicone. Remember, these go inside your body, and you wouldn’t want to risk putting unknown chemicals from knock-offs that cost as low as Php 40. Just, no.
Buy from: Bloom Body Shop
If you think the menstrual cup isn’t for you, or you just want to use disposable sanitary napkins, pasadors or cloth pads are your friends. Made from materials such as cotton, flannel, micro terry, and bamboo charcoal, cloth pads won’t give you rashes and irritations like their plastic counterparts do. There’s also less risk of smells. Cloth pads can last you three to five years with proper washing and care.
Buy from: SWAP
Did you know that besides being biodegradable, bamboo toothbrushes are naturally anti-microbial? Choose one that has charcoal-infused bristles, and enjoy further benefits such as teeth whitening, as charcoal removes tannins that stay on your teeth after you drink coffee and wine. Nylon bristles, same as traditional toothbrushes, are also readily available for an effective cleaning, especially for those with sensitive teeth and gums. Once you’re done with the bamboo toothbrushes, they decompose easily.
Buy from: Mad Kahuna
The starter pack for every zero-waster, especially one who loves going out for coffee or milk tea. A lot of establishments are gradually phasing out single-use straws, but if you can’t live without ‘em, a reusable straw is your best bet. Bamboo, stainless steel, and even glass options are available for you to choose from. Cleaning them afterwards might be a hassle especially when you’re on the go, but just duck into the nearest bathroom with a sink—reusable straw kits often have a small brush you can use to clean them in under a minute.
Buy from: Sip PH
Chances are, you already have a tumbler lying around somewhere. Clean it up and put it in your bag for your next gym session or coffee date, and do away with the plastic cups. Those can be bulky to carry around, so if that’s really an issue, opt for a silicone collapsible cup instead. They’re retractable so they can fit into your purse, and they’re also easy to clean with a quick rinse.
Bonus points: Starbucks, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Bubble Tea Station among other establishments offer discounts when you bring your own container. Just be responsible and bring a clean one for them to fill. IF you still forget to bring one, that’s totally okay! Most places will be happy to serve your drink in a glass or a mug when you ask.
Buy from: Coffeeteria
STAINLESS STEEL SAFETY RAZOR
When you shave regularly, you go through a lot of disposable razors. Why not just invest in something that will last you a long time instead? Stainless steel safety razors are not only long-lasting, but once you get over how intimidating (or dangerous) they look and figure out how to use them correctly, you’ll enjoy a really close shave. The razor itself will last you a lifetime especially if you invest in a quality product; the blades are easily changeable and, yes, recyclable.
Buy from: Phil Shave Shop
Start your zero-waste journey today. These steps may be small, but they go a long way in saving the earth.