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Making Zero Waste a lifestyle

January 12, 2019 - Saturday 6:01 PM by Chito Castro, Leah Castro

TOO MUCH PLASTIC. Did you know that January is National Zero Waste Month in the Philippines? File photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP

Can you imagine yourself producing absolutely no solid waste for a whole day?

If you’re not a hardcore environmental advocate or a strict eco-conscious individual, then probably not. Zero waste is a dream scenario for our planet, especially with recent data revealing the magnitude of solid waste that we generate on a 24-hour period.

About the Zero Waste Campaign

January is National Zero Waste Month, as declared in Proclamation No. 760 signed in May 2014 by then-President Benigno S. Aquino III. It defines “zero waste” as an advocacy promoting effective solid waste management, as well as a goal to guide Filipinos towards sustainable lifestyle changes and practices.

This campaign becomes all the more important if we consider that an average Filipino produces 400 grams of solid waste daily. The National Solid Waste Management Status Report (2008-2014) estimated that waste generation rates in the country vary from a low of 0.10 kg per person per day in municipalities outside Metro Manila to a high of 0.79 kg per person per day in Metro Manila and highly urbanized cities.

Several real-life stories of individuals and families around the world have shown successful implementation of zero waste, while some people continue to effectively implement zero-waste practices. Social media has had its share of stories by people who were able to fit their entire year’s solid waste in one small jar.

Others may argue that it’s not really “zero” waste since it’s still a jar full of solid waste generated. But hey, that was ONE JAR for an entire year! If you ask us, that is mind-blowingly impressive.

Let’s get one thing straight: Going zero waste does not happen overnight. It’s a serious commitment – every day, you need to decide that you’re staying on track despite how challenging it’s rolling out to be.

Besides, when you try to make huge lifestyle changes rather quickly, the chances of making it stick don’t look encouraging. That’s probably why many New Year’s resolutions fail – some of the changes we commit to are either too fast or too drastic. We may not have the time to adjust properly, and in the end, we just go back to our old comfortable habits.

We’re not expected to all become zero-waste pros in an instant. It’s going to be a painstaking process. At the end of the year, you may find yourself still unable to cram your yearlong wastes into a jar – not even into a box.

Nevertheless, let’s stay motivated. We are, after all, aiming for a change in lifestyle, and not simply riding the eco fad.

THINK TWICE. There are more than eight billion tons of plastic littering the planet -- the lion's share of which is not recyclable -- and plastic production is expected to double in the next two decades. Olivier MORIN / AFP