Living in the Philippines? 10 Tips For Reducing Your Waste

Hey lovelies,

I hope you’re snuggled up at home and enjoying the peace and quiet that winter brings. Unless you’re somewhere warm, then know that I am envious of you.

Especially if you’re back in the PI, there’s nothing I miss most than warm air, palm trees and ocean. But even with such a beautiful country, one of the most I’ve ever seen, the problem of garbage is enormous. Just ridiculously enormous. Not only do we have Canada (Ontario’s Chronic Inc.) shipping waste to the Philippines and leaving it at our port since 2013, (article HERE) these beautiful islands face what most third world countries face: an influx of unhealthy fast food corporations feeding off the poor and the overwhelming use of disposable, single-use items wrapped in plastic, plastic and more plastic.

And while I won’t blame the American’s for infiltrating this beautiful ocean paradise, I will say that the western world is definitely contributing to the issues and not being part of the solution. And why being part of the solution matters so much to me, is that if this world continues to get warmer (because we all know we humans are the ones making it warmer) then the water levels will continue to rise and all of what I know to be my roots and my family will be gone and submersed underwater (article HERE).

Morbid. I know. But the truth.

So when I say, let’s clean up our acts, I’m not just saying this for fun. There are no excuses other than selfish ones if you are not at least trying. At the very least. Trying.

Deneb’s first visit to the dumpsite in Inayawan, Cebu. It will be closed and they have already opened another dumpsite in a different town. They come here every Thursday to visit families that live and work in the site. Denz and a few others do Pre-natal check-up to poor pregnant women in the community, giving vitamins and medicines, feeding program for children and health teachings. They encourage them to leave this area as it’s hazardous to their health.

When I lived in the Philippines for a year, I saw it all – the plastic, the garbage, the consumerism, the depleted resources, the polluted oceans full of garbage. I noticed that every time I came back, it seemed to get worse. I myself even went to the landfill three times. I wanted so badly to do something about the people living and working there. When I see real people in need, all I want more than anything in life is to help them and I wish that I could have millions of dollars so that I can help them, teach them and provide them with relief. And it really puts in perspective how minor my problems are in comparison.

Image credit:

When a place has limited options, no bulk stores, when second hand clothing gets smuggled here because of fast fashion and a buck (article HERE), when single use disposable and plastic is normal, when little time in government is spent implementing solutions and the whole waste management system is designed poorly and little efforts are put into educating on these issues – how can anyone feel like anything can be changed?

But there is hope. Starting with Makati’s ban on plastic bags and styrofoam (article HERE) Though, I wonder, why not everywhere? And another woman in Cebu – her name is Deneb. She’s one beautiful soul writing me from miles away to share with me her own solutions. And I love it. I love, love, love it. Because rather than sitting and complaining about it, she’s doing something about it in her own way. She’s trying.

And so if you’re in the Philippines, feeling completely overwhelmed and lost on the whole garbage issue, here’s a start. Thank you Deneb, for writing me, letting me use these photos and allowing me to share our correspondence. (I responded to her e-mail in red).

Garbage and all, it makes me want to come back home.

zero waste cebu philippines
Glass jars to store food


1. Laundry Detergent:
I buy in bulk in a warehouse near my place. They sold it by kilogram.
You can also just use baking soda and water, like I said before. 

2. Shampoo and Conditioner:
Still the typical products in plastic 😦 Can’t find any solution for now. However, I do have hot oil treatment once every 2 weeks with coconut milk mix with aloe vera extract (my mom have a loy in her garden)
If you can find a homemade or all natural soap (one with very simple ingredients and unscented) – you can just use the soap in your hair to wash. If you have an apple cider or plain vinegar, you can rinse your hair with this as a conditioner. It will not smell like vinegar after, I promise. 

3. Bath Soap:
still the usual bar soap, but I always buy the one in carton and the largest size 🙂
This makes me happy. The same bath soap I use is what I also use on my hair 🙂 

4. Toothpaste:
Still the usual toothpaste but in bulk size 🙂 Toothbrush – still using the plastic one, but I found a store who sold the bamboo toothbrush. Its in Human Nature (sold organic products) but I still need to visit the shop. They sold it for 199 pesos each.

5. Fabric Conditioner (softener):
I don’t use one
You don’t need one 🙂 

6. Toilet Cleaner:
I use an all purpose cleaner in powder form for the sink, floors and toilet bowl. As per label the main ingredient was bakng soda. 🙂
An alternative to cleaning counters and windows is  white vinegar too.

7. Dishwashing Soap:
Still the typical Axion/Joy. I buy in half liter packaging and dilute them with water to double them up. I consumed  it for about 6 months.
I will look into this. For now, what I use is similar to hand soap that I grate and add to water. 

8. Meat:
I dont buy meat with bones. So I’d go for pure lean meat and chicken breast. Bones cannot be decomposed.
The best way to be the most zero waste, is to be a vegetarian/vegan, but I understand it is very hard to do this.

9. Compostable Waste:
Goes to my compost bin. Hahaha my first compost turned into a muddy soil because I forgot to drill hole at the bottom of the bin to drain the water/ moist.
🙂 I love that you compost. Composting is a great method to reduce waste. If you can get a hold of worms, you can also try to make a worm bin.

10. Grocery Shopping:
I go to farmers market weekly to buy our veggies and the rest of the groceries, still in Supermarkets but I bring my own bag to pack them all, I’m glad we have this No Plastic Day policy once a week. Schedule depends on the Supermarket’s; some are every Fridays and Wednesdays.
This is amazing and a great start. I wish it was a No Plastic Day every day.


denz tips for being zero waste in the philippines
These are the sanitary/menstrual pads Denz made for herself. They are made in cotton and reusable; an alternative for disposable pads. It was our Canadian nurse visitor who taught them to make pads. But only two people got interested and still use these.




Published by Mailyne

Owner of DLG Media. Founder of A.R.T. in Action. Philanthropist. Environmentalist. Activist. Photographer. Video Producer. Writer. Artist. Mama.

7 thoughts on “Living in the Philippines? 10 Tips For Reducing Your Waste

  1. This sound really frustrating about all the waste in Philippines. Fortunately, there is way to reduce the waste and all the tips you provided are more than helpful. Best regards

  2. Just interested on where do you buy your bulk detergent soap. I am also interested and starting my zerowaste journey. And still finding ways to be more effective as living a lifestyle like this here in Cebu, Philippines is very difficult as we are surrounded with malls and their products are packaged in plastics

  3. “what I know to be my roots and my family will be gone and submersed underwater (article HERE).” links don’t work 😦

  4. I live in the Philippines and it is frustrating. Thank you for taking the time to research and help us with tips on which places to go to buy these items.

    1. You’re welcome! I wish more could be done about it. Thank you for being open to reducing waste and finding my site!

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