It’s no accident that the zero-waste movement has finally reached Philippine shores. And since its arrival, every step taken towards that greener direction has been done mindfully.
Today, it’s no longer surprising to find more and more people bringing their own water bottles or bamboo straws when dining out. Local, sustainable businesses have also started to offer naturally made and package-free products. These are the small but noticeable things now helping Filipinos make significant changes in their lifestyle.
But what do we mean by these developments not happening by accident? Firstly, there’s the need for it. We’re a critical location in the planet in the fight for a sustainable future. Secondly, it’s because of driven individuals who’ve heeded the call.
Here are three (3) of our favorite Pinoy Eco-heroes who are fighting the good fight for Mother Earth.
Jen Horn: MUNI
Jen Horn is the founder and CEO of MUNI, an organization that aims to assist Filipinos in their journey towards a zero-waste, and generally more mindful lifestyle. Through MUNI’s website, people can access relevant resources to help them in their transition towards a more sustainable way of living. The organization also hosts events and meetups that cultivate empathy for the environment. Members are able to share unique experiences centered around a community aimed at supporting and sustaining the pro-environment movement.
The concept of creating MUNI came to Horn in 2012 after running her own reail business for 5 years. She envisioned a more sustainable way of doing business and has since endeavored to promote sustainable living and support other entrepreneurs who have the same vision in mind. Fast forward to 2018, the community has grown immensely with over 2,000 subscribers to their website newsletter, approximately 12,000 Facebook supporters online and more than a hundred attendees at their various events. Part of the success of these projects could be attributed to MUNI’s approach, which Horn describes as “providing Filipinos different avenues to begin their journey to consciousness, no matter how seemingly simple that avenue can be.”
Raf Dionisio: The Circle Hostel
Raf Dionisio, together with Ziggie Gonzales, opened The Circle Hostel in 2011 with San Felipe, Zambales as the location of their first branch. Over the years, they’ve also put up branches in La Union and Baler.
The Circle Hostel is a chain of community-oriented eco-hostels in the Philippines. In an interview with the Business Mirror, Dionisio shared that they were able to take inspiration from “other eco-friendly and native-type hostels” that help build the local economy through tourism and community involvement.
But aside from providing affordable and eco-friendly accommodation for surfers and tourists, The Circle Hostel has other environmental initiatives such as their reforestation program in Zambales. They’ve been working with the Yangil Tribe to reforest 3,000 hectares of ancestral domain, where a 100-hectare food forest and 1-hectare herbal healthcare forest will be created.
While the government is still catching up in its greener policies, this project serves to inspire everyone to take better care of nature, in their own ways. It also gives hope to indigenous people whose homes are no longer just in danger from land grabbers, but also the effects of climate change.
Ziggie Gonzales: The Plastic Solution
Surfer Ziggie Gonzales, co-founder of The Circle Hostel, enjoyed riding waves and just being in the water for hours — but only when he didn’t have to share the sea with floating trash. Gonzales shares that when he was out in the water, he’d usually collect rubbish that came his way. But it came to a point when he had collected so much plastic waste that he realized that there was a need for change. He had to take matters into his own hands.
Gonzales mobilized a team and developed a process to collect plastic polluting the sea, while at the same time creating something useful out of their haul. You may have heard of it by now. The effort is no longer limited to just the waste collected from the seas and The Circle Hostel locations.
The Plastic Solution has grown to become a compelling movement that encourages people to keep plastic bottles and stuff them with non-biodegradable trash, which eventually become eco-bricks. These eco-bricks can then be used for construction and furniture-making, among other things. This practice doesn’t totally eliminate the use of plastic, which questions its sustainability, but it’s a good start as we slowly and gradually transition towards a zero-waste lifestyle.
Not Just a Trend, But a Movement
These Pinoy Eco-heroes have essentially planted the seeds of environmental change for our country. Like them, we too, can be catalysts in our own regard. These organizations are simply a starting point for us to continue a movement that extends beyond a seemingly new-age trend.
We do not need to move heaven and earth to play our part. The little things, multiplied by a million times over, can make a big difference. Inspired, excited, but confused where to start? Check out this beginner’s guide to zero-waste living.