As we bring Earth Month to a close, this April we wanted to show other ways we can continue sustainability efforts to help our planet in its fight against waste pollution. Did you know that in 2015 the Philippines was ranked third in the world as a major contributor to solid waste? For such a small country, that's a lot of garbage! Thankfully, there have since been many different sustainability efforts from multiple groups and organizations. While this is good and true, we definitely still have a long way to go.
Our Major Problem and Possible Solutions
Some of us are affected enough to do something about it and make lifestyle changes, while others just can’t be bothered to change things. Regardless, all of us suffer the consequences of this problem. Aside from solid waste, harmful chemicals that we may unknowingly use on a day to day basis also cause damage to our oceans. All of these can contribute to harming our planet and its ecosystem.
While it is a major problem that we face, you'd be surprised to know that simple and small swaps go a long way in lessening our negative impact and damage to the planet.
Earth-friendly Consumer Alternatives
The Philippines is a tropical country and as Pacific Islanders, we know very well how hot our summers get! We know that sunscreen is vital but most of us don't know that while it protects our skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays, the same sunscreen contains ingredients that could harm our reefs. Studies have found that common chemical sunscreens contain ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate that cause coral bleaching and alteration of young coral DNA.
Thankfully, through sustainability efforts from private individuals, we now have locally made and locally available product alternatives that not only give excellent sun protection, but do so without harming our beloved oceans. Here are a few "Reef-safe" alternatives we've found online with links to the products:
Solid waste (garbage) isn't the only one that contributes to polluting our oceans—part of the plastic problem is fast-fashion. Fast-fashion as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, means "inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends." Mass-produced clothing contributes so much to the waste that eventually ends up in our waters. As sustainability efforts advance, more and more clothing brands are becoming increasingly conscious of their use and re-use of raw materials, sourcing, and production of their clothing items.
A sector of clothing that has followed suit with this sustainability-trend is swimwear. Many big and small brands have come out with "conscious" clothing lines that focus on using re-purposed and/or recycled materials to create their clothing pieces. It is incredible that swimwear and sports brands have hopped on this trend because most swimwear and sportswear are primarily composed of synthetic materials such as nylon. These plastic fibers, though microscopic, can really harm our marine life.
We have below some recommendations and alternatives that you might like to try. These brands use either repurposed plastic materials, use deadstock fabric, or use leftover fabric from other garments. Here are some local brands that not only offer trendy pieces, but also contribute to helping our planet:
Earth-friendly Beach Days and Responsible Swimming
The Philippines is home to so many beautiful beaches and islands, but because of the massive water pollution and the mismanagement of waste, our marine life is severely affected. This should urge us to be more proactive in not only joining clean-up efforts, but also in our small simple ways. As beach trips are an inevitable element in hot Philippine summers, here are some ways we can do our part in being more responsible swimmers wherever we may travel to.
The Bring-Your-Own Lifestyle
Let's face it, most waste is plastic packaging waste. Whether it be plastic water bottles, food and other product packaging, all this waste can be lessened by reusing existing items we already own. The Bring-Your-Own lifestyle eliminates constantly buying (more expensive) items outside, and in lessening overall waste.
On your next beach day or travel outdoors, remember to BYO. Here are some of items you already have that you can bring to your next beach day:
1) Reusable bottle/ tumbler - Eliminates the need to buy water in plastic bottles
2) Reusable bags - Whether it be to store our beach items, for purchasing new things, or storing wet items, these reusable bags eliminate the need for new plastic bags
3) Home-prepared meals and snacks in reusable containers - Saves us from food packaging and spares us from spending unnecessarily on outside food
As we continue to enjoy God's beautiful and wonderful creation, let us be responsible benefactors to these gifts that God has so graciously blessed us with. We hope you take these suggestions into consideration and start making these small swaps—any effort is great effort!
We hope you have a great summer ahead and we hope to splash with you soon!