My first grade teacher was the first person to introduce me to the idea of recycling. In fact, she helped to implement the whole school’s recycling program- one of the first back in the day. Flash forward to today, where every mall and respectable school have segregation bins. We do it at home as well as in many other homes across the city. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to segregate at home, our cities in the Philippines have no recycling facilities- all trash goes to the same place. This is why there are so many people who make a living as scavengers, sorting the bottles from paper and plastic, to be able to re sell these to the bottling and plastic plants.
This year, as a family, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We not only sort our own garbage, we dispose of it ourselves as well. Here are the ways we do it.
- Plastic: Ask any of my friends. I love bottled mineral water, Fiji, Evian, you name it. I always had a bottle in tow. It wasn’t until last year that I really started to be mindful of the plastic mess I was contributing to, not to mention the leeching of plastic to the water. Bottled water here sits on tarmacs and hot warehouses for days. Its not just the heat of the cars we need to worry about, the way its transported is reason enough. I had already switched out of plastic-water, but still had the problem of packaging from snacks and random things at home. What to do with them?Although I know my kids love snacks- even healthy ones come in plastic! I really try not to buy them anymore and make and bake them instead. I was so happy to find Plastic Solutions on Instagram. They are a group who encourage people to make Eco Bricks- plastic bottles filled with non biodegradable items, cut up and stuffed into the bottles. They then turn these bottles into ‘bricks’ used as fillers for walls to build structures- mostly structures for communities in need. At least the plastic was being used for good! I asked people for plastic bottles and told them what I was doing with them, since we no longer consumed any beverages in plastic bottles. People gladly send them to me, I don’t mind since I can dispose of them properly. We started shredding plastic and any other non bio degradebles and stuffing them bricks. Even the kids joined in. They require a minimum weight to be of any use. Follow them on @plasticsolutuonph.
- Bottles: These are probably the easiest to manage as junk shops buy bottles per kilo. They don’t pay much, but at least you know that these will make it back to bottling plants as they people who buy it return it to make money the plants or glass factories pay them. Look for a junk shop near you and make a little money!
- Paper: There are a couple things we do with paper. The first is to re use them until they can’t be used. We turn them into envelopes, use both sides and discourage the kids from using paper to draw on so as not to waste it. We shred the white or used paper and put it into a compost with leaves and other dried material. For brown paper or cardboard, we mix this into our compost or vermicompost as there is a need for dry material.
- Aluminium and other materials: Materials that can be re sold to shops such as ice cream tins, bottle caps etc are sold to the junk shops. Others that are not biodegradable and can be shredded are stuffed into the eco bricks.
- Food scraps: I try not to buy food that will leave scraps. So I opt for fillets of fish, things with no bones- who likes bones anyway! This way all the protein is eaten and none left to rot. I bought Bokashi bran which a composting material that allows meats to be composted in bins. However, I found that we did not need it since we do not eat much meat and barely have any animal protein waste at home. However, I highly recommend this for homes where meat and animal protein is consumed as a way to rot it and use it as compost. I contacted the CCA in Katipunan as they have Bokashi bran for sale. We feed the fruit and vegetable peel to our worms in our vermicompost bins. It’s amazing to see the peelings all gobbled up the next day! What is left after a couple of weeks is beautiful fertile soil that I use for my herbs.
- Other tips:
- Carry a reusable bag. Say no to plastic or paper bags
- Buy from bulk bins and use pouches to carry the food in. You’ll find bulk bins in Rustan’s supermarkets.
- Don’t buy the fruit that is pre packaged. It drives me crazy to see grapes in a plastic plate then wrapped. I’ve been known to remove the plastic and leave it in the store. I have my fruits weighed directly on the scale, then put inside my pouches, with the price tag stuck on top of the pouch.
- Think before you buy. Opt for items in glass versus those in cans or plastic packaging. If you think of the packaging as a hassle to dispose of, you will weigh your options when you buy things. The less you need to dispose of, the better.
- Re use bottles: I clean and soak my bottles from sauces or condiments in water and vinegar to clean them. We use these to store left overs, sauces or when we share food with friends and family.
The only thing that is left in our trash are personal hygiene items for the most part. We are far from being a total zero waste home, but we are getting there. The steps we have taken are very doable for most homes. We have reduced the amount of trash we produce dramatically by thinking hard about what we purchase and taking the time to segregate and think about where trash ends up. Share your tips on reusing, rotting and recycling!
To order Bokashi Bran
CCA Katipunan 09569273646
Farmer Franco: 09127986236