3 reasons to go zero waste at home + 3 things you can do (that have more to do with food than plasti
Lao: Commissioner and Vice Chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Commission under the Office of the President, as the Private Sector Representative for the Recycling Industry, and Founding President of the Philippine Alliance for Recycling and Material Sustainability
#MUNIonThis: “With nearly 60% of the country’s 40,000 tons of waste generated from the households (every day), citizens have a key role to play in the form of proper segregation at home”, says Crispian Lao. This is based on data from a 2014 report from the DENR Environmental Management Bureau’s Solid Waste Management Department.
Reason #1: That means on average, each individual in the country produces 0.4kg of waste everyday, with 0.5kg as the average for urban areas, and 0.3kg as the average for rural areas. Every day. So for city-dwellers, that racks up to 182.5kg annually.
Reason #2: Of this waste, 56.7% comes from residential sources, so yes, homes. The remaining balance comes from commercial (27.2%), institutional (12.1%) and industrial (4.1%) sources. So, this means that there is a huge world of difference we can make when we change our habits in the places we live.
Reason #3: With the composition or makeup of our waste, there is much that we can do to curb the waste (and greenhouse gas emissions) we create at home. Most of our waste is composed largely of biodegradable (52.31%) food waste/scrap, followed by recyclables (27.78%) with residual (17.98%) and special waste (1.93%). So, if we can reduce the amount of biodegradable waste we put out there, imagine the reductions we can make in the total amount of waste we produce.
Not only that, but by reducing the amount of food waste to landfills, we can help reduce the amount of methane (a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, contributing to 8% of global GHGs) notoriously emitted by biodegradable waste (and flatulent cows), and even contribute to either fuller bellies, pesos saved, and healthier soil! Food waste is a silent yet powerful driver of climate change.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Much focus has been devoted to plastic waste, and for the most part, folks have become more conscious about single-use plastic — foregoing plastic bags in favor of eco bags, bringing reusable water tumblers, buying in bulk / skipping the sachet, etc.
BUT there’s a bigger conversation we can also be having about FOOD — something unmistakably part of our daily living that we usually have it 3 times a day (or more for me); something that we look forward to in the future even as we’re consuming it at the moment, or something we lovingly reminisce on even when not engaged in the act of eating.
First of all, one of largest sources of our recyclable waste (27.78%) is also closely linked to the food we buy. We know that by buying food with less packaging, we can reduce the amount of single-use plastic consumed. But more than that, how can we further reduce our food waste, and in effect, our household food cost?
Buy what you can consume It’s not enough to keep your closet minimalist these days if you can keep your fridge minimalist too. This way, you can keep better track of what you have on hand vs. have bottled products, produce or leftovers getting old and gross at the back of your fridge, only to be thrown away at the end of the week.
EM Mudballs made with Effective Microorganism (EM), dried mud and bokashi (compost material) to help clean or rivers. Photo c/o Earthventure Inc.
Eat your ugly veg A lot of both agricultural and household waste comes from this image of bright and shiny, flawless produce. However, a lot of the odds and ends of our produce are perfectly edible, especially when you cut them all up for a delish bowl of veg curry, minestrone, or even sinigang, nilaga, pochero or laswa, or any of those easy one-pot meals that lazy cooks like myself love. It’s a great and tasty way to clean up your fridge at the end of the week.
Compost The first two suggestions are a bit easier to take action on immediately, but once you can manage it, it would be great to up your zero waste game by composting any leftover food scraps that don’t make it to your belly! Some home composting kits can be found in a hardware store near you, while the folks over at Earthventure Inc. are also working to create biodegradable waste collection systems and condo-friendly composting buckets
As a mother and as the founder of Earthventure Inc., Rina helps reduce our climate impacts by actively spreading her “ad-bokashi-ya” (advocacy, Rina’s pun intended)
Rina Papio, Founder of Earthventure Inc. adds, “We may not see the results of the fight in this lifetime but as a mother, I have kids who will have kids, who will have kids, and so on. It matters to me that our generation made sure that there is a future ready for these children. We have no right to destroy this planet.”
The journey towards a more sustainable world begins in the intimate space that is our home, and in preparing for our next MUNI Meetup, I’ve learned that greatest impact can be made in our kitchens. With a zero waste approach to food, and not just plastic, we can make a much larger dent in reducing our environmental impact on an individual level than we might have previously imagined. 🙂