#ZeroToZero: The Zero-Cost Road to Zero-Waste

#ZeroToZero: The Zero-Cost Road to Zero-Waste

While we love our metal straws, reusable totes, and stainless steel water bottles, we also love having a little bread left in the bank.

Let’s face it – going zero waste costs money! Sure, it might be cheaper in the long run, but there’s no denying it takes some initial investment. Going zero waste, however, doesn’t have to happen overnight. Imagine saving a little bit from every paycheck until you realize you’ve finally saved enough. It’s the same with zero waste. If you make small decisions to lessen your waste everyday, you’ll eventually find that you’re occupying less and less space in our landfills and oceans.

The good news is that these decisions to lessen waste cost you absolutely nothing. Here are a bunch of things you can do to lessen your waste without breaking the bank –

Refuse plastic cup lids – If you have to take a drink out and just forgot your reusable bottle, one thing you can do is ask whoever is making your drink to skip the lid. That’s one less little piece of waste. If enough people do this, the establishment might edit their supply order so that even less lids are produced to begin with. What if the drink spills? Just take a big sip before you get moving. You ordered the drink, I assume you like it!

Put everything in one shopping bag – Most establishments will give you a bag bigger than what you really need to hold what you bought. That’s ok – as long as you only let one establishment do it! In the next stops of your shopping extravaganza, ditch the bags. Just put what you bought into that first one. Keep doing that until you absolutely need one more bag. Want everyone to see that you’ve been shopping? Don’t worry. They’ll know when you put the clothes on!

Get a BEEP card – For those of you commuting in the Philippines, get a dang BEEP card and reload it at the start of the week or whenever you want. As long as you stop buying individual tickets. Look at it this way – buying a ticket for your morning commute then another for your evening commute produces two pieces of receipts that will end up as waste. If you reload your card with two journeys’ worth of credits in the morning (so you don’t have to buy a ticket for going home) and get a receipt for that reload, you’re already cutting your waste by 50%. The points don’t expire!

Stop wrapping your fruits – Putting your fruit straight into your shopping bag won’t kill you. Just ask the grocery staff to weigh them and stick the tag on one of the fruits. You’ll get used to it, trust me.

Skip the food packaging – Whether it’s a doughnut or turon, whoever is selling it to you will probably instinctively wrap it in a single use plastic or paper bag. Look, you’re going to eat it right away anyway. Just eat with your hands! Are your hands dirty? Wash them. No time? Ask for a small thin piece of tissue instead of whatever they were going to wrap your food in just for your peace of mind, you clean-freak!

Beat them to it – Never assume you won’t get a straw with your drink. Never assume your drink will be served in a for-here (or there?) mug. In other words, always assume you will get a straw and always assume you will get a single-use cup. Whether you’re buying a drink from a chain café or a fancy restaurant, beat the establishment and always tell them you don’t need a straw or that you want your drink in a for-here (or there??) mug. Will you seem weird? Maybe. Will you be helping the environment? Yes.

Find an electronic waste repurposing service – Those old phones, wires, and batteries are like nudes – they’re toxic when they leak! Find an organization that knows how to dispose of these things so you don’t have to do so yourself.

Take a walk – This isn’t about waste that ends up in landfills, but toxins that end up in the environment. A 15 minute walk from your office to your lunch date is not as bad as it sounds. Skip the cab/ride-sharing service and get closer to those coveted 10,000 steps. If you’re afraid of the sweat – fine. Take a car going to the lunch date but walk going back. The same applies to many other things – meetings, deliveries, pick-ups, whatever. Walking both ways is great, but if you really can’t, walking one way (the way where your sweat won’t matter) is still a big help.

Paperless billings – It takes 10 minutes to set up. You get all the information you do with paper bills. Just do it.

I know what the more philosophical of you might be thinking – “but then that’s not zero waste.” Well, you’re right! Congratulations! It’s not zero, but it is less. Using a metal straw with a single-use plastic cup looks kinda funny, but it’s still a step towards less waste. That’s still one less piece of waste we’re keeping from landfills and oceans. Would you rather people make small changes or no changes at all?

Not everyone will or can go out of their way to purchase all the reusable goods that are great for going zero-waste. In not as many words, not everyone can go zero-waste. At least not instantly. Everyone, however, can at least lessen waste. At least if they know how. You don’t need to go full tree-hugging plastic-protesting eco-warrior to make a difference. A little, as they say, goes a long way.

Producing absolutely zero waste is great, but so is producing less waste. Going zero waste is a road, and the steps you have to take to reach the destination don’t have to cost anything. A lot of them are small, simple, and free. If these small steps are what it takes to slowly clean up the world, then we’ll take them! We hope you do, too.

Post your #ZeroToZero efforts and tag @madtravel_ph!

Cover Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Romano Santos
Romano Santos

Romano is a project manager, content creator, and public speaker for MAD Travel. You may reach him through romano.santos@madtravel.org or on Instagram as @romanohimself

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