5 Zero Waste Mistakes – How to Avoid Them

Let me start this post not by saying that we all make mistakes because we are human beings but I’ll start saying when people make mistakes, there are only three things we should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it. As I always say through my post, there is not perfection when it comes to our waste. No one is fully and 100% zero waste but we can start having a mindset of doing and being the best that we can be. 

When I started my journey to a zero waste lifestyle, I thought that I should be perfect everytime or else people will say that I am a hypocrite. With this, I got so excited and overwhelmed of the results that I will be having at the end of the year. I wanted to be perfect in the first months and not show the waste that I have been keeping.

It is indeed true that life’s greatest lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. So here are the 5 mistakes I made and for you to avoid with Zero Waste Lifestyle:

5 Zero Waste Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. I didn’t read and research

In the beginning of my journey, I bought into its aesthetic and set of beautifully-arranged mason jars in fashionable accounts’ journey. I thought that zero waste is all about beautiful sets of glass and stainless steel wares that you can display at home. I didn’t read and research about the facts that using what you have is more sustainable than buying new things. I advise you to read some books like the Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, A Zero Waste life by Anita Vandyke and Excess: Anti Consumerism in the West. I also advise you to follow accounts that explain the value of using what you have rather than buying new stuffs to start your journey like this people on Instagram: @bezerowastegirl, @thegirlgonegreen and @sustainably_vegan. Reading and researching will lead you to the right steps instead of purchasing sustainable items and avoiding using what you have. If you’re not into reading, like me sometimes, you can also listen to some podcast about zero waste on Spotify.

2. Not identifying first my trash source before 5Rs

If you go back to my posts both on Instagram and on Facebook, you may see that the first thing that I purchased was a metal straw. I bought a metal straw because I thought that I can start with that. I actually bought the Justice League Straw from 7-11. I removed the JL logo just to “avoid” plastic which is really a bad move from my side. It it important to know first where your trash is coming from in order for you to identify what reusable should you invest on or focus on first. I found out later that I don’t use straws that much because I don’t dine out that often. As of today, I’m keeping my metal straws for justincase purposes. 

3. Need Vs. Want

When I moved in San Pablo City last May 2018, I got so overwhelmed with so much sustainable and plastic-free items available in their local market. I wanted to buy all of them, to be honest, until my sister’s powerful words hit me like a rock, “Not because it’s eco-friendly, you have to buy it.” She told that when I told her I wanted to buy a hat out of pandan leaves. It is indeed true that we should identify our needs vs. wants. In that case, I won’t be able to use that hat everyday. I want to buy it because I just want it. I don’t really need it. This is a lesson learned in 2018. We don’t need the fancy stainless steel containers when we do have the durable tupperwares at home.

4. Not starting small

Before I become Zero Waste Filipina, I used to be hoarder of everything from cosmetics, to journals to school supplies. This mindset continued when I came across the zero waste lifestyle. I remember I bought toothpaste, toothpowder, face mask, toner, deodorant, and soaps from Zero basics all at the same time. Can you imagine how much money I put for all of it? Can you imagine how overwhelming it is? That’s a mistake I made in 2018. I didn’t start small. I wanted to be zero waste in just one month or two. I want to influence people right away. But everything does not happen overnight. If you want to know where to start, go back to number 2 – identify where your trash is coming from. I should have started first in a very small scale. That’s my goal right now, to slowly but surely go vegetarian, little by little, one step at a time. 

5. Not talking about diversity

Diversity refers to the set of conscious practices that involve understanding and appreciating interdependence of humanity, culture  and natural environment. It involves mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own. Around February 2018, I talked about how not every Filipino can do a zero waste lifestyle without thinking about diversity. Little did I knew that extreme poverty affected 19.2% of the Filipinos and earning 1.25$ per day making them extremely difficult to buy even their basic needs. When I read the blog post of “Ditch The Trash” about ableism, privilege and religion, I learned that this year, I should focus more not in zero waste only but by involving these people how they can contribute to a plastic-free Philippines through environmental education because while we are promoting for the environment, others just want to survive for the day.

In conclusion, these mistakes don’t make me less of a zero waster not even as a human being. These mistakes empowered me into something better than I was before.

If you want to start your journey to a zero waste lifestyle, you may want to read the article that I wrote; Zero Waste for Beginners.


Published by Zero Waste Filipina

Angel is a 23 year old teacher based in San Pablo City who's advocating for a cleaner and greener world through influencing people through her individual actions. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook as she does the 365 day to zero trash.

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1 Comment

  1. Great article! I love how you also included diversity in the list. As I went through my zero waste journey, the questions that popped in my head were, “should I be mad because Filipinos buy sachets when that’s all they can afford?” and even “how am I going to support the ate that sells our office to sell food but her packaging is styro?”. Everything that I’ve read about zero waste and going green came from white and western bloggers from first world countries. But how do we support and educate low wage workers whose livelihoods depend on plastic? Environmental education should be taught to schools and in households.


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