As you may know by now, we're going to The Philippines for a little while! As soon as we agreed to a trip to The Philippines, we knew we had some work to do with our packing...
The Philippines has a problem with recycling and disposal of plastic, and we’re super excited to get involved in beach cleans and plastic free campaigns.
We are living and working on a tiny island, in the middle of an extremely rich and diverse marine ecosystem. These are the ecosystems at extreme risk of the pressures of tourism, including plastics and chemicals tourists bring along, like sunscreen.
I am used to packing for sensitive locations (such as Lang Tengah) and use eco products wherever we go anyway. But, we knew we had to pack no plastics (as much as possible) and environmentally sensitive products. This meant fast tracking the waste free essentials shopping we needed (I wanted to use up all the plastics I already owned before I bought new snazzy waste free equipment). But now is a very good time to get those things I’d be waiting to get.
We want to avoid single use plastics as much as we can- ESPECIALLY the big players when we’re out and about shopping and living in The Philippines. This includes takeaway coffee cups, water bottles, takeaway food containers, plastic bags. So we’re taking food containers, keep cups, water bottles etc. It is important to be compassionate about this. Asking politely for local food in our own containers is certainly a good way to avoid some plastic and raise a little awareness. But we wont be shaming, or looking down on locals who do use it, or being aggressive to restaurants producing plastic. Thats not cool and being a decent compassionate human being to other beings is super important part of the process and of life.
What can we get there?
Some essentials we are hoping to get (or make!) in the Philippines include coconut oil, which we’re both going to use heaps for hair and body, using a base for heaps of delicious recipes for cooking and body. Otherwise, any essentials we're missing and require I can buy in The UK whilst I'm there. Tips for amazing waste free shops appreciated :)
No more glass
I adore glass. It’s so lovely to use, and in our time in Australia I’ve invested in some good oven proof and takeaway glass containers. We also love our Voss bottles and I’ve been using mine for over a year. However, glass is just not practical. We already have heaps of luggage- (a decent blend of professional, dive and beach gear as well as Australian luggage!) and glass is too heavy. I've gifted our most loved essentials.
Some plastics are good
Therefore, our plastic containers and lunch boxes are coming with. They’re not suitable for hot food, so we’ve got a mess tin for hot takeaways. At least this plastic is multi use, will prevent some single use and is practical. If they break when we’re overseas, they are coming home with us. It’s a responsibility. But one we’re happy to experiment with.
We are also accepting happily the plastics that come with some of our toiletries. Mosiguard and People 4 Ocean are non negotiable. Health is priority- and it’s important to keep that scope when packing ethically. Happily they can both be recycled, will last a long time so without question come with.
People 4 Ocean reef friendly sunscreen is extremely important tool to keep us safe. By keeping the reef safe in which we’ll work play and protect- is a no brainer. An essential eco pack.
Lee has had a mosquito borne illness before, and we are working and living in an area with a Dengue risk. Cleaning beaches and in swamps means we HAVE to be properly covered. Mosiguard is absolutely incredible way to avoid DEET. Thats one piece of plastic that is very very much worth bringing back to a recycling area.
Plastics we are trying to avoid are those we will use up quickly and that are not vital. Shampoo and shower gel Number 1. I've packed soaps from Lush and my favourite- The Australian Natural Soap Company.
New things to buy include a safety razor. Very popular with waste free liver-s, I am super excited to give it a go. I’ll be buying one my trip back to The UK and I will let you know how I find them! Until then, seeing as our end of lease cleaners threw away my long use olay razor, no shaving...
I specifically bought an all natural, metal tin of lip salve. This is an important pack when prone to dry skin and when almost ALL lip salve comes in a plastic tube. I looked around a lot to find this one, and I’m very very happy with it! Sourced: Friends of the Earth Fitzroy.
Moon cup (Menstrual Cup). Ok guys. Honestly I do already have a moon cup. And I really really struggled to get on with it. But, tampons are apparently both expensive and hard to find in The Philippines. I also do not want to produce all that waste. So, I will be taking a small supply of tampons and having another go with the Mooncup. Any tips?
Bamboo toothbrushes and reusable straws: We already use bamboo toothbrushes so this is a no brainer and we have them already :)
Toothpaste. I throughly wanted to buy a waste free eco toothpaste. But as it worked out, the “eco” toothpaste that I found was extremely heavy reusable glass jar. A perfect must have for city life, not practical for long haul backpacking on tiny islands. We decided that it was better to use up the toothpaste that we have, and is a lot lighter than wasting what we had and buying new. When it’s done, it’s a legacy of an empty plastic tube will have to come back with us.
Not forgetting the clothes..
I am packing natural clothes as much as humanly possible with this trip. Plastic fibred clothes can leach plastic filaments when being washed, and are actually a big cause of plastic pollution in the oceans. To be honest, this is more an issue with fast chemical heavy washes in washing machines, and the liklihood is that I will be washing our clothes by hand, with Dr Bronner. BUT Natural fibre clothes are also the bomb in the tropics, cooler, lighter easy to dry, comfortable they are a must for me.
This pack ended up being a bit of a monster. Along with specialised diving gear of Lee's, taking over more than a sarong and bikini for a holiday, meant we had rather a lot of luggage... But fear not! Much of our equipment will save A LOT of plastic and will serve us incredibly well over the next few months!
Snippet of the essential toiletries pack:
- P4O sunscreen factor 30 and P4O natural after sun.
- Dr Bronner 13 in 1 soap (life saver for dishes, clothes, body etc!)
- Sukin Deodrant
- Natural package free soaps.
- Tea Tree Oil
- Citronella oil
I'll bring you a lot more information on products, how we are going to make some of our essentials and what we miss as we go along!