The Problem with TrashTag: Why I Stopped Supporting Clean-up Drives

Do you love joining clean-up drives? Did you join the #trashtag? Here are three ways you can do more to make our planet cleaner.

I recently got attacked by some trolls over Instagram for commenting over a social media influencer’s post. Just because pointed I out how ironic that they sought for plastic-free province yet they used plastic bags to collect the trash but anyhow, this has inspired to come up with this post. Recently, there is a growing trend of clean-ups #trashtag and everyone who is seeking for attention or praise are doing this.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the immediate benefits of picking up the trash, however, at the moment it is just being used by several social media influencers as a publicity stunt to become more popular and gain more likes, not to mention by companies to portray that they care about the environment.There are cons with this movement and you may not agree but I just feel the need to put it out here.

  • Temporary and Unsustainable – Even if we take a good portion of the Philippine population to constantly clean-up, it will not solve the core of the problem which are lack of self-discipline and lack of corporate responsibility. Also, most people do not do it regularly enough to make the effects evident. How many times have people done clean-ups in different places and yet minutes after trash is back again. I know because I have taken part in several Shore it Up drives.

  • It Does Not Empower the Local Community – If locals get used to some other people cleaning up for them, they will never feel the responsibility over the mess they are making. I always see how a lot of Filipinos have this sense of entitlement when they are in fastfood or restaurant chains, you barely see anyone responsibly throwing their trash. Same goes for all those fun runs, like some Earth run organised before where hundreds of water cups were just left out on the road. Currently, DENR has organised several River and beach clean-ups but I am not sure of the percentage of participants that live in the venue. Those countless areas where dwellers just continue to trash their surroundings will just grow accustomed to the idea that there will always be someone else cleaning up after them.

  • No Accountability Post Clean-up – I have seen several clean-ups and photos taken after the event but no one really shows where the trash collected goes. In one vlog, several social media influencers took several bags of trash and they got praised for what they did, however, it surfaced couple of days after that they just left the trash in the same area so did it really change things?

You might think, if you know better, what do you propose we do instead of just picking up the litter? Great if you think like this! Here are better ways to help the growing plastic problem:

  • Put a price on plastic. – Companies should be charged more for the use of plastic given the numerous bad effects it has over our environment and health and we consumers should push for legislations for this. We should also make use of plastic bags in grocery stores more expensive instead of charging people to buy an eco bag.

  • Force companies to create sustainable and eco-friendly packaging. – Recent news showed that there is a growing pressure from consumers nationwide for better packaging. Couple of months ago, Loop announced it will be working with several known companies for reusable packaging.

  • Shift to a zero-waste lifestyle.- In the end, it all starts with us, the consumers. If we produce less waste then there would be less trash in our planet. You opting for an alternative packaging or plastic-free products already has more impact over a one day clean-up. It is not easy but it is far from impossible. There are a lot of resources and tips online for you to shift to this lifestyle. Besides, our predecessors already lived like this before. Our grandparents used banana leaves and reused mason jars, why not go back to how it used to be.

I am not stopping you from joining the next clean-up drive, if it makes you feel good and you feel it is making a real difference. I just want to remind people that the problem will not be solved completely if we do not zoom out to look at the bigger problem and put our focus on the root cause of the issue. It is like covering a hole in a damaged boat with barehands, sure it delays the sinking but it does not really stop it.

Next time you buy something, think about how you are contributing to the trash problem. Choose to consume without waste.

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Why I Gave Up Shopping for New Clothes and Why You Should Too: The Problem with Fast Fashion

These days everyone is proudly flaunting their metal straws and those reusable spoons & forks but there is another bunch of products that could have more impact in the pollution problem if most of us gave it up. This is why at the start of 2019, I made this as my top resolution and here is why you should include it in yours too!

Why You Should Quit Shopping for New Clothes

These days everyone is proudly flaunting their metal straws and those reusable spoons & forks but there is another bunch of products that could have more impact in the pollution problem if most of us gave it up.

What is it you ask? Give up shopping fast fashion products!

What is fast fashion?

It is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.

In A Nutshell

In early 2018, the fashion giant H&M reported sitting on a huge pile of unsold clothes — $4.3 billion worth of inventory. They also incinerated 15 tons in 2017, which they claimed were clothes not safe to use. This shows the major problem the fast fashion industry has. Imagine if each one of the 7.5 billion people on Earth owned only one pair of pants and one shirt, that would make 15 billion items of clothing but of course we have more. In fact our consumption for fast fashion is growing at a crazy pace and it must stop. For over two decades, I have always been a fan of buying second hand clothes, in my country, we call it ukay-ukay. However, it was only this 2019 that I decided to completely avoid purchasing any new clothing for the entire year.

Here are the reasons why I decided to stop:

More than 50% of fast fashion produced is disposed in under one year.

150 billion garments per year are produced in the global fashion industry, which means about 20 items per person.

30% of clothes is never sold.

460 billion dollarsis how much the global economy misses out on each year because people are throwing away clothes they could continue to wear.

Less than three years is the lifetime of an apparel item in developed countries.

Customers are using large amounts of clothing for a shorter time:An average American buys 70 apparel items a year which translates to a new piece of clothing every four to five days.

The average closet of a UK citizen contains 152 items. More than half gather dust. There are $45 billion of unworn clothes in the United Kingdom alone.

What if you just cannot cut down just as much as I can? Here are some suggestions:

  • Support eco-friendly brands that support long-term conservation projects.
  • Shift to eco-fabrics and support the development of agricultural residues like leftover straw as sustainable alternative for fabric manufacturing.
  • Buy clothes that last and reduce & recycle fabric to optimise the use of the product. Try doing Project 333 and be surprised how little you need for 3 months.

At a digital age, it is not an excuse to not know of sustainable alternatives. It is good though that for most Filipinos, ukay-ukay is popular but it is not really stopping the production of new ones which eventually end up in thrift stores. We have also become home to huge stores of fast fashion brands. The next time you shop, think about it. Is it really necessary?

If you want to know more about the growing problem of fast fashion, check out these resources:

Pulse of the Fashion Industry by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group

The State of Fashion by Business of Fashion and McKinsey Company

A new of textile economy by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Fashion at the crossroads by Greenpeace

The True Cost documentary

Burning deadstock? Sadly, ‘Waste is nothing new in fashion’

Seven Sustainable Priorities for Fashion Industry Leaders by Global Fashion Agenda

The Sexy Off-Price Sector Has a Big Problem by eMarketer Retail

Takeaways From Future of Fashion Sustainability Panel

Overproduction: Taboo in Fashion

Oxfam Research

My Wardrobe Checklist for 5 Months of Backpacking

Planning to go on a month-long trip? Here is my wardrobe checklist for 5 months of backpacking!

I always worry about my luggage when traveling. My obsessive-compulsive side always want to make sure I do not bring too much and most of the time, I barely reach half of my luggage limit.

“The old school of thought would have you believe that you'd be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn't what being in nature is all about. Rather, it's about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.” ― Ryel Kestenbaum, The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail
“The old school of thought would have you believe that you’d be a fool to take on nature without arming yourself with every conceivable measure of safety and comfort under the sun. But that isn’t what being in nature is all about. Rather, it’s about feeling free, unbounded, shedding the distractions and barriers of our civilization—not bringing them with us.”
― Ryel Kestenbaum, The Ultralight Backpacker: The Complete Guide to Simplicity and Comfort on the Trail

I am lucky to be gifted with the talent of travelling light. When I went for Malaysia for Ms. SCUBA International 2013, I managed to fit in 25 kilograms two pairs of heels, national costume and with all my dive gears.

The problem most ladies face when doing long-term travel is trying to fit everything into a small luggage. I can recall the sight of my Bb. Pilipinas 2013  co-candidates during our three-day stay in Shangri-La. I felt that I barely brought stuff since I only carried a medium-sized duffel bag while the rest brought ones as huge as dive equipment bags (TBH I will never know what was inside those bags).

Back in 2015, I went to Tacloban and packed for a month of volunteer work which turned out to be longer. It became a 5 month-long wardrobe in a 50 L backpack?

How did I survive?

Here is my list:

TOPS

You can try to have 2 of these in bright colours to add more life to your usual neutrals.

If you are doing PR work, best to have some dressy tops.

4 Tank Tops

4 Shirts – 2 short-sleeved and 2 long-sleeved

Choose ones made from light materials.

1 Windbreaker

Jeans can be heavy though.

You can mix both to create a juxtaposition of sophisticated and casual.

3 Pair of shorts

2 Long Pants/Trousers

1 Pair of Leggings

A-line is safest.

1 Long Skirt

3 Brassieres

You can also choose to bring Nubra (silicone adhesive bras), they are easy to wash and wear.

Basic Undies

4 Pairs of Underwear

1 Sarong/ Cover-up (30 Ways to Use Your Sarong)

Less space consumed by microfiber towels compared to standard cotton ones.

1Towel (Microfiber is best)

1 Pair of Sneakers or Rubber Shoes (Hiking shoes are not as good-looking but they do their job well)

1 Pair of Flip-Flop

1 Pair of Ballerina Flats (For sophisticated moments.)

These are my basics and you can choose to add clothing items depending on where you will be doing volunteer work. If you are backpacking in the Philippines, I suggest you bring ones made of cotton because the humidity will make you sweat like a pig and a pair of joggers and long sleeve shirt will help fend off mosquitoes at night.

Having a hard time deciding which to take? Let George Clooney inspire you or check out this Pinterest Board.

Monday Musings: Taking Out Trash

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How often do you throw away? Most of us tend to keep a lot of unnecessary stuff whether in our places or in our minds. Unknowingly, we end up taking in so much that it leaves us with little space to work with.

I recently read an excerpt about Getting Things Done by Dave Allen where he described stuff as “Anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world that doesn’t belong where it is, but for which you haven’t yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step.”  I have never thought about how much stuff I kept until I checked my email and sorted out my room. It is so easy to not realize the gravity of our hoarding and these stuffs slows us down and makes us inefficient.

Now is the time to clear your mind and place. Start by sorting and throwing out the unnecessary.

Monday Musings : When Less is More

The world today equates worth with material possession. Everyday, mass media is telling you that what you have is not enough. You always have to keep up with the latest gadgets, houses, makeup, clothes, accessories and whatever it is that money can buy. It is our nature to always want something.

The best things in life aren't things.

I have always seen this as a form of slavery. When you cannot function without an object that makes the object the master and you the slave. Think about it, when you forget your phone, you feel paralyzed or when you do not wear makeup you start feeling less beautiful. Its because we have made this a part of who we are when it should not be.

Here is a short verse from Minimalist that reminds me daily on this:

Stop buying the unnecessary.
Toss half your stuff, learn contentedness.
Reduce half again.

List 4 essential things in your life, do these first,
stop doing the non-essential.

Clear distractions, focus on each moment.
Let go of attachment to doing, having more.

Fall in love with less.

I am happy to be able to enjoy moments in life without having the need to conform to what the world dictates me to buy. I realised early on that having all the things money can buy will never fill the emptiness. I have learned to let go of wanting more and to just need what is essential. Do not buy into materialism.

Wednesday Warriors: How to Start Project 333

Always shopping for clothes and never having enough in your closet? Life is easier with less. Ready for the challenge?

If you take a look at your closet now, how many pieces of clothing would you have in it? When was the last time you wore all of them? Can you live with only 33 items for 3 months?

Dressing dilemma.

Project 333 is a difficult one at least for the fashionistas who do not like to wear the same things. I, on the otherhand, was never a fan of owning to much clothes. That’s why I have a yearly check on all my clothes and donate the ones that I have not worn for more than 3 months. Wear ’em and throw ’em, most girls love this game. Buy clothes, wear them once or twice (some aren’t even worn at all) and them keep it inside the closet for ages. This project will make your wardrobe a lot less complicated. Life is easier with less. Ready for the challenge?

The Basics

When: Every three months
What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing.
How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.
What else: Consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

Here is an inspiration for you:

15 Looks with 13 Items
15 Looks with 13 Items

Quick Start Guides For Project 333

First Timers

  1. Take inventory.
  2. Working with your “I Love” pile of clothing, start to build your wardrobe. It will help to make a list on paper.
  3. Consider signature items like a trench coat or pair of boots. Your signature item might be your sunglasses. You will find that having one well made version of something will be far better than 10 of the knock-off.
  4. Once you start dressing with less, pay less attention to what you are wearing, or not wearing and more attention to something more important.
  5. You are welcome to incorporate some of the bonus rules listed below.
  • Use the first week of each phase if you need it to finish your collection and donation process.
  • Choose three additional items and put them aside in your closet. You may rotate these items in during the next three months, but three other items have to rotated out, and donated.
  • You may swap clothing with others participating in Project333. Post items on the Facebook page and connect with like minded fashionistas living with less.

    6.  Get connected and ask questions.

Hopefully this challenge will let you enjoy the freedom that comes with minimalism. I will be posting my take on minimal wardrobe from my month long travel next Wednesday.