There was a time when I was a kid watching Sineskwela (Filipino Science children TV show) and Agatom talked about the depleting ozone layer. That it had a “hole” that was becoming bigger unless we’d do something about it. We learned that we need to recycle because our dumpsites were getting out of hand. We memorized the 4Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Return) and we knew how to make our own little composts. There was a time when I actually believed that Captain Planet could save the environment. I’m not talking about his super powers but through the easy-to-do eco-friendly tips at the end of each episode. Go Planeteers! Then there was Al Gore who showed us The Inconvenient Truth. The ice cap was melting and polar bears were drowning. After that, everything’s a blur. And everyone began to forget.
We are the generation that’s most exposed to environment issues and we are (or should be) the most informed thanks to the wealth of material available to read and digest. But though we have all the information, somehow it’s not translating to action. I’m trying hard not to generalize but we are overcome by the culture of consumption and commercialism. Social media has paralyzed most of us to become mere spectators watching (and feeling) Mother Earth’s slow painful death.
Let’s try not to be spectators and do our part, however little it may be, as a millennial. Here’s my short list of how millennials in their own little ways help the environment.
Tip #1: Recycle used Starbucks cups or better yet, use tumblers
Plastic cups are not the enemy. It is how we use and dispose them that’s the problem. Assuming we do dispose and segregate them properly in our office trash, how sure are we that they are recycled to new baby plastic cups and not dumped in a landfill? If you can’t find a reliable plastics recycling program (tell me if you know one in Manila), one way to reuse these very durable plastic cups is to use them as flower pots.
I go to Starbucks regularly. If I’m not, I’m drinking Gong Cha’s House Special Milk Green Tea 75% sugar. Needless to say, I use a lot of plastic cups and I shamelessly take them home and give it to my mother. There’s no shame about taking care of the environment, people! Remember to pierce holes on the bottom of the cup to make air and water flow through the soil. There you have it, life in a cup, literally.
However, if you can avoid using plastic cups, use tumblers. I always bring a water tumbler during my voice lessons at Academy of Rock. If I don’t, I have to force myself to buy bottled water for P20. In some places like the arcade nearby, it’s P50. Can you believe how much I save? I prefer metal tumblers because I don’t trust plastic with my hot water. That’s just a personal preference. I’ll have to do more research on that! P.S. Avoid using plastic straws too! #NoStrawMovement
Tip #2: Don’t use your phone while charging especially when using power banks
Let’s face it. We’re addicted to our phones. I was one of those who doubted the necessity of having a data plan and now I can’t live without it! The problem with increased phone usage is that we charge our phones more often than we’re used to. That alone might be a significant cause of global warming.
Even worse, most of us still use our phone while charging. With mobile data still on! WHILE PLUGGED INTO A POWERBANK! Why am I overreacting? Do you know why a plantsa (iron) can’t be used simultaneously with other appliances? Because it can cause power surge. Using your phone while charging does not make the charging faster! Help Gaia by leaving your phone alone when it’s charging. And turn off your mobile data! Or better yet, switch to airplane mode. Okay? Rant over.
Tip #3: Finish your plate no matter how full you are (or bring the leftovers home)
Okay. I need to take a deep breath before I start this rant… hahaha. Millennials live in an age when all-you-can-eat restaurants are not just limited to Dad’s and Kamayan anymore (hey 90’s kids!). They’re everywhere! And you know what’s sad? There’s a lot of wasted food.
Don’t be a takaw-mata. Take only what you can eat. If it is allowed (and I think it should be allowed) take your leftovers home. Wala nang hiya-hiya! Et voila! You have baon the next day. Food is a product of a farmer’s hard work and an innocent animal’s death. Food on the table is a privilege. Finish it up to the last grain!
Tip #4: Finish your water whether you paid for it or not
Fresh water is one of the scarcest resources often taken for granted. Only 1% of the earth’s water is potable and we’re wasting it like it won’t run out.
I got this habit from my mom. When the concept of mineral or purified water was still “new,” my mom would drink all our leftover water. Because it’s sayang. And she was paying for it. Now, I see to it that before I leave a restaurant, I finish my glass of service water. And it’s good for the body too! Conserve water (and all resources) not just because it’s sayang but because it’s the right thing to do.
Tip #5: Carpool! Share your Uber
I’ve been Uber-ing a lot since last year and I have to say: though it’s more comfortable, it’s not the more economical and the most ecological option. If I could bike to work, I would. Until Manila is ready for bike lanes, let’s carpool! I know this one is hard to do especially if you don’t have friends living near you.
Uber recently launched uberHOP last Feb. uberHOP is a new ride-sharing option that allows commuters heading in the same direction to carpool during morning and evening rush hour for a flat fare. uberHops can carry up to 5 riders and will leave every 15 minutes. Try it now!
Tip #6: Use less paper towels. Bring your own hankie and bimpo.
These days, we waste a lot of paper towels and toilet paper. I’m just saying we consume a lot of paper (and diapers, but that’s another topic for another day). Just on my office floor alone, a pack of paper towels is consumed and the trash cans are filled with used and slightly-used paper towels in just a matter of hours. This is what I mean when I said that we are a generation of consumers. We consume until supplies last.
When I was a young student I would carry with me a handkerchief and a bimpo (small towel) at all times. It was handy for when it got hot during the morning assembly or in the gymnasium during P.E. class. Now that I’m older I still do not forget to leave home without my hankie. That’s something that I didn’t mind doing while I was younger but now I realize that that little thing I did is one little way I helped the environment early on in my life.
There you have it! Those are just some of my eco-friendly tips for the millennial. Do you have any other little things you do to help save the environment? Share them in the comments below, so we can all unite to save Mother Earth. 🙂