Much has been said about how a zero-waste lifestyle is one afforded only by rich millennials, but these ideas show that sustainability can actually be the more economical option.
1. Ditch the disposables.
Let's start with a quick scan of stuff in the bathroom.
Off the bat, you can easily identify a number of disposable items that are used on a regular basis. Cotton pads, wet wipes, plastic razors, feminine products for ~that~ time of the month...
While you may be thinking that most of these are all made of paper or degradable material, the fact is that these still contain chemicals and microplastics that can be poisonous for marine life or even wind up in the seafood we consume.
These days, reusable alternatives for these disposable items are a dime a dozen, so there's hardly any excuse to not make an eco-friendly switch. Plus, who can say no to pretty prints like these?
A few hundred pesos might seem like a splurge on these sustainable products, but if you think about how often you have to buy these disposables over the course of a single year, won't it add up to just as much in terms of spending? Or maybe even more?
For instance, a reusable razor with changeable blades costs P590 a pop, way more costly compared to plastic disposable ones or those that come with replaceable cartridge heads. Or so it seems.
Disposable razors can set you back at least a hundred pesos for a pack of five that lasts a few months while refillable ones cost even more, plus the cartridges that need replacing every month or so.
A good ol' stainless steel blade is just around 5 pesos, my friend! Lighter on your pocket and less harm on the environment, too.
Similarly, switching to washable makeup remover towels or reusable cotton rounds also translates to a lot of saving on regular paper products purchases.
2. Switch to bulk purchases.
The kitchen is another room that is chock full of items that contribute a lot to our regular plastic waste. Assuming you've already whittled down on disposables like paper napkins, synthetic sponges, and plastic trash bags, another way to be more eco-friendly is to buy in bulk.
Messy Bessy has large refill options available for a wide range of home and personal care items like hand sanitizer, laundry detergent, and disinfectant sprays.
Human Heart Nature now offers their best-selling household liquids in larger 1L bottles, too.
Not only can you save as much as P178.31 by buying by the liter, but these also come in bottles that have up to 72% less plastic and are 100% recyclable. Oh and did we mention that these products help communities, too?
Apart from letting you save money, buying in bulk also cuts down on your trips to the grocery store or on shipping fees, reducing carbon emissions from transportation.
If you prefer keeping your spending within a particular budget at a time or are worried about product expiry, stores like Humble Market, Got Heart Shop, Sierreza, Ritual and Real Food offer package-free kitchen and pantry staples.
These stores are all over the metro, from Quezon City and even all the way to Alabang and Laguna - all you have to do is bring your refillable containers!
3. Make shopping lists.
This is a rule we absolutely swear by when it comes to keeping spending in check: If you don't need it, don't buy it!
See, the zero-waste movement has also gotten a lot of criticism for spurring unnecessary purchases purely for Instagram-worthy posts. Case in point: Folks buying metal straws for the rose gold and rainbow metal colors only for posterity.
I mean, who can resist, right?
A more reasonable and economical way to go about it is to identify where the waste is coming from based on your regular activities.
Do you have to buy that cute reusable tumbler for hot beverages when you don't even drink coffee or tea? Or when you've got a bunch of unused ones at home?
Will you really be using those cool cutlery sets when you don't really eat fast food or get takeout? Do you really need those reusable liners when you're actually a guy? Kidding! But you get our drift.
By listing down only the things you need and exercising enough self-control to stick to your list, you'll be able to avoid spending more than you intended on stuff you aren't even likely to use.
4. Buy pre-loved.
Did you know that the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world next to oil? A single shirt can take gallons of water to produce, on top of the pesticide, dyes, packaging materials, and transportation costs involved.
The next time you find yourself needing to go on retail therapy or update your wardrobe, do consider buying pre-loved pieces in a thrift store instead of swinging by the usual fast-fashion places.
If you don't have time to go on an ukay-ukay sprawl, let the ukay come to you. Carousell is a good place to start looking for second-hand items, be it clothes or even household appliances.
Screencap from Sustainably Styled PH's Instagram profile
What we especially love about Sustainably Styled PH is that it also has an advocacy of empowering women, with part of the proceeds funding shelters for abused and prostituted women such as Ruhama Center.
They also accept second-hand clothes as donations, which are either given to the girls in the shelters or sold with 100% of the profit going to outreach programs.
5. Donate unused or reusable items.
On the subject of donations, another great way to go about sustainable living is to go on KonMari mode then donate the items that might still spark joy in others.
Do you have a habit of hoarding hotel toiletries but wind up not using them at all? We'll gladly take them out of your hands to distribute as part of hygiene kits through our partner Squeaky Clean Kids' outreach programs.
Do you have plenty of old but still wearable clothes and shoes that you've outgrown or no longer need? Donate it to The Street Store, which is a pop-up shop where those in need can take clothes, books, toys, and houseware for free.
When donating, always put yourself in the shoes of the community or folks in need who would be receiving these items. Be conscious of expired personal care items that might wind up doing more harm to underprivileged kids than good. Think about the person who might be getting tattered or nearly useless pieces of clothing.
At the end of the day, striving for sustainability isn't really about buying more things but rather being more mindful of one's lifestyle choices and how these impact the world, other beings in it, and future generations.
This isn't to discourage you from purchasing metal straws, cool bamboo products, or zero-waste items that come in pretty prints. If cute Instagrammable items are what help remind you to reduce your single-use plastic consumption, then we're all for it!
Just remember, a sustainable lifestyle doesn't have to be costly if you buy less, choose well, and make it last.