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How the Zero-Waste Movement Became Cool

There are cool people who want to save the world. Let's join them.
How the Zero-Waste Movement Became Cool
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/siduations
There are cool people who want to save the world. Let's join them.

In the not-so-distant past, there was a cartoon called Captain Planet (Google it, kids) that was about a superhero called upon by a bunch of teenagers wearing magic rings. Hokey, concept? Absolutely. But it was a progressive show even for its time.

It had a diverse cast and tackled heavy subjects like pill addiction and HIV. However, hardly anyone counted Captain Planet as a favorite back then. A flying environmentalist was simply no match against mutant turtles or men who can bust ghosts.

Creating a Culture

Times are changing. Mutation is a real concern and giraffes are listed as vulnerable—a step below endangered—on the list of threatened species. Much, much scarier than ghosts.

Thankfully, also on the rise is the concept of zero-waste. It is a practice where people commit to producing as little trash as possible by choosing reusable products and not wasting resources in the first place.

The idea behind it is not new, but it has generated buzz in recent years. The Internet has a lot to do with it. Bea Johnson is often credited as a pioneer for the waste-free movement and was even featured by the New York Times. Another is Kathryn Kellogg, who gained viral fame when she posted pictures of a year’s worth of trash fit snugly inside a tiny jar.

These women, and the many other bloggers like them, dutifully document their lifestyles in Instagram-perfect photos. Cynics can point out that it is nothing but the influencer culture rearing its head, but there is no doubt they have inspired a lot of people into trying out zero-waste living. They show that the efficient use of resources is possible, and you don’t have to be an unshaven hippie living in the woods to do it.

Fantasy Becomes Reality

It’s one thing to swoon over flatlays, but completely another thing to live out the lifestyle. Just think about the last thing you ate. Chances are it came out of a plastic package. It takes commitment to lessen waste.

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In the Philippines, there are some signs that the commitment is being taken to heart. Various municipalities have banned plastics from establishments. Even using a Tupperware at a restaurant to pack away leftovers is no longer seen as a faux pas.

The recent crop of products catering to the zero-waste culture is encouraging. Sip, for example, is a social enterprise that sells metal straws and bamboo cutlery. They come in chic cases you wouldn’t be embarrassed to whip out of your purse.

If home design is your thing, the colorful beeswax wraps by Island Happy could be the pop of color your kitchen needs. They are definitely more attractive than the standard plastic clingwrap.

Ritual, a general goods store that sells everything from cleaning items to food, is a testament to the staying power of sustainability. It has been around since 2010. Its store has a modern understated design. Ritual discourages the use of unnecessary packaging by selling their products in beautiful jars where customers can simply scoop out what they need into their own containers.

Aside from providing options to help go waste-free, these brands have another thing in common. They do not simply appeal to the conscience for people to buy them. Instead, they also offer quality products with excellent design.

It may seem like an insignificant detail, but it goes a long way in making sure that the zero-waste lifestyle stays its course. People are more inclined to use things that they can be proud of. Evidence A: the use of monograms of luxury goods; Evidence B: the whole retail industry.

People like nice things. Thankfully, it is now easier to have those nice things without trashing the whole planet.

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