Updated: Apr 23, 2019
A few days ago, the biggest news in helping us go package free and plastic free happened here in the Philippines. Unilever announced that they are opening refilling stations for their hair care products at select malls. Then, a few days after, organic company, Human Heart Nature also announced their first refilling station, plus a “Balik Bote” (return bottles) initiative.
My heart almost imploded.
It’s finally happening.
After years of having zero waste and plastic free be such a small movement here, bigger companies are finally noticing the movement and its importance.
We’re finally making a dent. We are being heard.
Alla and I started our journey to being plastic-free almost 7 years ago.
I saw a video of Lauren Singer showing how she only has trash that could fit in a small mason jar. So I googled her journey and one of the things she said that made a huge impact on me was, it doesn’t need to happen overnight. You can reduce plastic and waste one at a time until that becomes automatic to you. Then you move to the next thing.
So this is how our journey looked:
1. We started bringing eco bags for shopping - any type of shopping. Grocery, market, clothes. Every month, for groceries, we use around 8 plastic bags. That’s 96 bags a year! What?! We also refused paper bags when we bought clothes, because we gotta save them trees too, yo.
2. We then moved to refusing bagging our vegetables. Just put them in the bag. Why do we need to wrap them in plastic? Seriously.
3. We stopped buying poop bags for our dogs and instead, reused plastic bags from things that we could not avoid, like bags of chips, rice, bread, sugar, tissue, wipes.
4. We started bringing containers for meat when we go to the market. They put them in small plastic bags here. So now, we bring containers and have the butcher put the meat inside those containers.
5. Up next was refusing straw. Never realized how wasteful that was until I saw that poor turtle. Just drink with your mouth. Way better, really.
6. Bringing our own reusable thermos for water. We usually buy bottled water whenever we go out. It took some time to build the habit but now, we always have our water thermos with us. Keeps the water cold too!
7. When package free stores started popping up, we immediately supported them. We batched buying stuff so the trip would be worth it. This addressed our 'plastics in the bathroom' issue - shampoo, conditioner, soap, hand wash, detergent. We actually used up 6 plastic bottles a month. That’s 72 a year!
Credit: Humble Market
8. Package free stores also helped lessen other plastic bags in the kitchen - we can now refill sugar, grains, flour, oats and pasta. That’s a lot.
9. Then we noticed the cooking oil - these are in plastic bottles too but if you buy in bulk, there’s a 5 liter one that’s in a tin can. We just put them in old wine bottles. Makes it look prettier too.
10. Most recently, we noticed the bread. We buy these in the grocery where of course, they’re in plastic bags. There’s now a bakery here so we bring a container and have them place the bread there.
11. Now, we’re currently solving this thing called period. We mainly use pads and tampons. We checked what we can do and there are a bunch of options around (but that’s for another post). In any case, we chose Thinx underwear. We only have one for now, (just ordered the second). What does one underwear save us? 1 pad per period. You might think, womp, just 1? Well, that’s 12 in a year x 2 girls, that’s 24. That’s 2 packs of pads that are no longer going to the landfill. Boom!
Are we completely plastic free? I wish! Our journey is not yet over. It’s far from over. The 11 things above took us 7 years to do and we’re not yet done.
1. Start with one thing. Focus on that. Once it becomes automatic for you, pick another thing. Rinse and repeat.
2. Calculate. What? If you notice I keep adding things up. This helps me see how much impact I am making with 1 small action and it keeps me motivated. (Imagine, 8 grocery bags a month, 96 in a year. For the past 7 years, I’ve saved 672 plastic bags from going to the landfills or the sea choking a fish).
3. Follow people and communities that are trying to do the same thing. It will help you discover other ways of reducing plastic use, find new package-free stores and keep you inspired too. Here are some that I follow:
4. Teach whoever you can. It. 👏Will. 👏Make. 👏 A. 👏Difference. 👏
5. Share your progress so that it can inspire more people too. :)
Remember, every small thing you remove makes a huge impact.