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10 Tips On How To Minimize Your Trash In Manila

It's easier than you think.
PHOTO: Pixabay

Everyone knows trash is a huge problem in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila. Did you know that Manila generates as much as one-fourth of the country’s daily output of garbage? That’s around 8,400 to 8,600 tons of trash per day. In March 2016, during the first week of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) cleanup campaign, they collected trash from the Estero De Kabulusan and Antipolo Open Canal. The garbage they collected reached as high as a three-story building.

But people are STILL not doing anything about it. There are still those who throw candy wrappers and receipts out their windows. Bringing your own grocery bags is still considered a hassle. Music festivals are still selling food and drinks in plastic containers. We are still pressured into wanting, keeping, buying, and living in excess. And our environment is paying for it.


Minimizing your waste doesn’t have to be overwhelming or inconvenient. You also don’t have to make big, drastic changes overnight. Changing your lifestyle happens gradually. We chatted with Daniella Rodriguez, the woman behind Minimal Manila, to learn more about the small changes we can make towards a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle: “Zero-waste is a movement that aims to lessen your negative impact on the environment by minimizing your waste output without feeling like you're cut off from the urban world. These tips aren't a hard set of rules; they're a guide on how you can reduce your trash.”

1. Know yourself.

Recognize your habits and your daily routine. You can adjust from there. Just like crash diets, extreme moves rarely work. Decide what you want can sacrifice and what you want to keep. 

2. Do your research.

The Internet is an endless pit of information! You can find out where to buy more eco-friendly items that suit your needs. There are also a bunch of online boutique sellers that carry more sustainable options than the standard products you find in most malls.

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3. DIY! (If you can.)

Again, the Internet is your friend. You're not the first person attempting to be more eco-friendly. There are several blogs out there, much like Minimal Manila, that aim to help newbies like yourself adjust to a different and ~*exciting*~ lifestyle. For example, did you know that you can make your own toothpaste? Baking powder is the Holy Grail! 

4. REFUSE.

Say no to disposables and single-use items like plastic bags, straws, plastic bottles and if you don't need it, paper napkins. Tip: you can buy your own stainless steel straw at Ritual

5. Reuse. 

If you can't say no, find a way to reuse or upcycle these items. Reuse shopping bags or use plastic bottles as planters. You can find really crafty ideas on Pinterest! 

6. Recycle.

Not many people know this, but recycling should be the last resort. Recycling takes up a lot of energy and resources. Still, it's much better than having your trash end up in landfills or the ocean. Earn a little by selling your trash to waste markets (SM and Ayala have these once a month) or donate your empty containers to companies like Human Heart Nature!

7. Compost. 

Separate meats from veggie and fruit peelings. The former can be collected by the city as part of their waste management program and you can make your own soil fertilizer with the latter along with dried leaves.


8. Consider using a menstrual cup. 

It can take hundreds of years for the traditional pad or tampon to breakdown. Think about how much you use in a month! Menstrual cups can last 5 to 10 years depending on the material and brand. You can also try the Thinx panties, which are really absorbent! 

9. Don't toss your old clothes!

If they're still wearable, donate them or put them up for sale. If it looks too raggedy, give them to a fabric recycler. H&M takes in old clothes (and according to them, the state of your clothes don't matter) so all your post-pambahay shirts can go to them.

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10. BYOB = Bring Your Own Baunan

This will keep you from having to purchase food in disposable packaging. It doesn't have to be a literal baunan. It can be as simple as a small cloth bag for sandwiches and snacks. Daniella's current zero-waste kit consists of: reusable cloth napkin, stainless steel straw, reusable chopsticks and a tumbler. 

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