WITH a few adjustments, living life with zero-waste is a possibility. Take it from Michiko Nina Gandionco, a woman who's intent to live her life with as little waste as possible, bringing about positivity and making her mark in the world without ever tarnishing it.
Michiko started her zero-waste journey about six months ago. This was when she stumbled upon a New Yorker named Lauren Singer, who is also doing a zero-waste lifestyle. She got extremely interested on how someone could live life without a huge negative impact on the world.
“At first I thought, this is impossible, especially in Cebu where we don't have a lot of bulk stores and everything is pre-packaged,” she said.
Then she started to talk to people about Lauren Singer and how fascinated she was about the zero-waste lifestyle. “But then everyone was like, 'You can't do that here. That's impossible.' So I took it as a challenge. I was like, I'm gonna do this,” she said.
With her mind made up, Michiko did her research and was adamant on doing a gradual 180-degree change in her life. As she researched more on the zero-waste lifestyle, the more it all made sense to start it. One of the things she came across was the horrible relationship people had with plastic. “It's made of material that lasts a really long time, but people use it as a disposable or single-use thing. It just doesn't make sense to me,” she said.
One of the first things Michiko did was to not use any kind of plastic: Bags, straws, cutlery etc. “If I take out food, I bring my own container. If I buy groceries, I bring my own bag. I started out small,” she said.
Then she started bringing her own reusable utensils like a pair of spoon and fork, chopsticks and a stainless straw. When grocery shopping, she would bring her own container where she would place produce from bins like beans and vegetables.
A lot of grocery stores were understanding and would allow Michiko to use her reusable containers. But there were some who wouldn't allow because using plastic bags is part of their protocol.
“It's these instances that discourage me a little bit, like a momentary sadness. And then I start to realize that it's one of the reasons why I need to do this because there are better alternatives, but because we're so used to what's convenient that people don't bother to try something else,” she said.
“The first few months was just constant frustration. I couldn't believe how lenient people were with their trash. But I think the good thing is I turned that frustration into something productive.”
Eventually people started asking her about her reusable stuff, asking her where she got them and how they could score one themselves.
As an extension of Michiko's zero-waste living, she started Noble Folk in early March, an online and pop-up store selling reusable goods that could help anyone start their zero-waste journey.
Michiko sells little starter kits for anyone who wants to leave as little waste as possible in the world. A good start would be to have on hand a pair of spoon and fork made of coconut lumber or perhaps a wooden spoon and chopsticks kit to lessen the use of plastic cutlery when on the go. Paired it with a small mason jar to put liquids in during meals, one's waste for the day is lessened.
Noble Folk has a lot of reusable products like bamboo straws, and they sell organic products like virgin coconut oil bar soap, three-ingredient laundry detergent, bamboo toothbrushes and coconut fiber dish scrub. These are things that seem so little but in the long run would help the environment tenfold.
Michiko's zero-waste journey has helped her realize so many things about herself and others.
“It's helped me to be a lot more conscious with what I'm buying, what I'm eating, what I'm putting on my body. I found this part of myself that I didn't realize I had this much passion and energy for wanting to make a better world,” she said. “My hope is that people will be a lot more accepting and more conscious with the things that they're buying. People really have the potential to change to a more sustainable lifestyle.”
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on May 22, 2017.
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