Here's how I start my own zero-waste journey in the Philippines

Here's how I start my zero-waste journey in the Philippines


We don’t need hundreds of people perfecting zero-waste, we need millions imperfectly doing zero-waste. Here is how to start your zero-waste journey!




When I started doing zero-waste, I wasn’t even aware that I am actually doing it. At first, I was just all against plastic straw and didn't find it necessary on fast-food chains that we frequent a lot when I was still in college.


I admit I was one of those people who buys ‘palamig’ in college because it quenches my thirst and it’s very affordable, hence the usage of straws.


When I was starting to really get conscious of my own plastic usage, I had to consciously stop myself from buying or even use plastic alternatives like plastic cups or bottle water whom I called ‘lesser evils’.


‘But why? It’s still plastic, right?’


A few will argue with me on this but here’s my thinking process.


Our youngest sister asked me about it one time I’m with her and she’s about to buy some ‘palamig’. I told her to just ask for cups over plastic bags whenever she buys ‘palamiig’. She can’t understand my logic since they’re both plastics anyway.


Well, my logic is that while both of them are plastics the only advantage of plastic cups is that some people can get money from it. Some scavenge for plastic cups and sell them, hence income generation for them and cleaner cities.Also, plastic bags is the top contributing cause of flooding due to drainage blocking in the urban areas.


Again, choose plastic cups if you can’t help buying ‘palamig’ because they generate income for the less fortunate and it can also be recycled- that’s the reason why I call plastic cups lesser evil.


I know people will say, ‘why choose lesser evil when you can just do good and just stop using plastic?’  


Well, that’s easier said than done.


Of course, I hope we all do good, I hope we are conscious enough of our environment and use all the resources given to us without giving more damage but let’s be real, we can’t all be good environment-friendly abiding citizens.


It’s hard especially when plastics give ease to our everyday living. 


Maybe one day, we’ll all be. But for now, we’ll take baby steps rather than no steps at all.




I never said going zero-waste is easy, it’s not.


Well, it actually is but not really. It’s easy because you just have to refuse using plastics but it’s actually hard in the sense that the alternatives are not accessible and the fact that you have to continue getting stared at by other people, mostly elders, are just so hard to take- at least at first. 


Personally, my second step and probably the biggest achievement I have in terms of living zero-waste is carrying my own bag whenever I buy stuff.


I just want to share my experiences when I started using my own bag. So, I actually started this after college when I was already working. 


I realized that a lot of plastic bags are being used by a lot of people including me. I shop monthly for my Lola’s stocks such as food, milk, biscuits, and toiletries because I am her designated butler now that she’s too old to shop by herself. Every grocery shopping I used about 2-3 large plastic bags and some smaller ones to separate the food items from the toiletries.


The first time I carried my own bag, I was really really shy. I remember really looking out for a cashier lane with no other shoppers so I can bring out my eco bag and use it.


The act was easy but it wasn’t easy in the sense that you are rebelling against the absurd and that you know that a lot of people are talking about you. With their company or in their heads.


And what’s the most funny thing is, supermarkets are promoting the use of reusable bags by marketing their own eco-bags and yet here I am so anxious about how to tell the bagger that I’ll use my own bag.


I remember paying 30 pesos for an eco-bag only to find out that it has a logo of a brand on one side and the supermarket logo on the other. I don’t know, it’s just so off for me. As someone who knows the basics of marketing and advertising, I know for sure that that brand paid the supermarket some amount for their product and logo printed on the reusable bags, and the fact that I paid for an advertisement doesn’t sit well on me.


I don’t know, maybe they partnered with that brand for its advertisement so they can sell the eco-bag for a much cheaper price? Still, I was mortified and disappointed.


That’s what we called greenwashing.


Another instance that made my blood boil is when I visited Mr. DIY on a Sunday. At first, I was feeling it because I saw a poster in the entrance telling their consumers that ‘as their way to show support’ for the environment, they encourage people to bring their own bags because they won’t be giving off paper bags every Sunday.


So I went inside, and happily browsed through thinking “Finally, a shop that can understand me” and then after some time I noticed people exiting the store with paper bags!


I was so confused because the poster is huge enough for the people to see because it is placed at the entrance! So why are there people exiting the store with paper bags with them?


So I observe, and I found out that although they ‘support environmental causes’ with their poster and all, they are actually letting their customers BUY PAPER BAGS FROM THEM. They are greenwashing people and profiting from it!


They are not advocating for our environment, they are making people pay! It’s like offsetting but not really.


Although that incident in Mr. DIY happened years after I was confident to use my own bag, I just have to say that those things are some of my reasons why I push myself to be visible and parade with reusable bags with me every single chance I can get.


I was shy and then I fought it so people could see and be encouraged. I was hoping someone who wants to transition but is shy finally finds the courage and braveness if they see someone already doing it. It’s leading by example without me spurting out words to make them understand my beliefs.


The stares I dread the most at first that made me look for a cashier lane with fewer people were not bothering me anymore, if anything I actually welcome those stares. Their stares are now most welcome so they can see and be encouraged to do the same.




I’m not an influencer with thousands of reach, I don’t even label myself as an influencer but I am happy that some people realized and acknowledged the things that I do.


Using eco-bags has been a normal and vital part of my shopping routine. Actually, it’s one of the decision-making factors that  I have to take into consideration.


I am at a point where I postpone my shopping when I forgot to bring an eco-bag or if I can’t fit my buys inside the bag that I am using that time, that’s why I always use tote and bag packs nowadays.


Using eco-bags became a normal thing for me that some members of the fam slowly noticed it and even doing it a little bit.


When they are with me, they know the drill. I will be the one stacking up the grocery items inside my own reusable bags that I carry. Also, I have with me at least one eco bag on a normal day and 3-5 reusable bags when doing the food shopping.


I’m at a point in my life where I don’t care if those reusable bags don't complement my clothes, or if it’s a free reusable bag from a food company, or whether those reusable bags are worn out already.


It’s still a functioning reusable bag so I’ll dig and slay with it.


And reusable and eco bags are the new sexy, don’t argue with me about that.


Have you tried using your own reusable bag while shopping? Tell me about it below.