It started with a turtle.
As she found herself staring at her screen, appalled by the gruesome sight of a plastic straw being pulled out of the harmless sea creature’s nose, Phoebe Blas knew she had to do something to overturn this chaos humans have caused with our apathetic expending of the earth’s resources without consideration.
Taking on what should be the responsibility of everyone, Phoebe Blas created a platform that she has used to share her journey towards a conscious and meaningful lifestyle as she aims to live a life of zero-waste.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way
The moment she was hit by the revelation of just how much the waste the average person produces in a day, Phoebe knew she had to look for people she could learn from—someone to teach her the ropes. Though she found many zero-waste advocates on the international scene, when it came to the initiative here in the Philippines, it was a dead end. The absence of a local “mentor” may have irked Phoebe at first, but she remained adamant on living out her decision. “I knew that I needed to do something about it,” Phoebe says, “[So] I decided to document my journey into living a more conscious and meaningful lifestyle.”
Despite the initiative’s lack of spear headers in her own country, Phoebe has succeeded in doing much more than simply creating her own platform (called Mean Living)—she seems to have started a domino effect all across the country, one that is inspiring people to lead the same kind of zero-waste lifestyle.
The devil’s in the details
One of the challenges that this advocacy faces is the tendency for people to miss the point of the whole cause by being distracted by the very deceptive “eco-friendly” labels more and more companies are putting on their products. And again, why wouldn’t they when environmental concern is proving to be “fashionable”?
“Because the movement of caring for the environment is catching on to companies, they tend to ‘green wash’ their products to make them seemingly ‘eco-friendly’.” Phoebe points out. She recalls seeing a pack of wet wipes that was labeled “biodegradable” and found a disconnect upon seeing the packaging, which comprised of plastic and other questionable components.
The laws of demand and supply
Though we live in a world where corporations are usually depicted as the ones with the power, Phoebe recognizes that the truth of the matter is that the answers (as well as the responsibilities) lie in every individual’s hands. “We are more powerful than we think,” she says. “As consumers, we have a say as to what companies make. If we, collectively, demand change with the products they make, they will listen.” The people demand. Corporations supply. Corporations would be non-existent if it weren’t for the people who buy their products. Who, then, really has the power? The way Phoebe puts it, if consumers demand products that are made responsibly with regards to both people and the environment, companies will be obliged to listen and to comply.
Phoebe points out that, to the credit of corporations—some things are being done. “They are finally owning up to the trash their products leave behind in our oceans. Owning up to their shortcomings is a huge step because the question now is ‘What will the other companies do?’” Though she also points out that while some actions that seem to be in made in favor of the environment, they still are, in actuality, are green-washing. This comes as a result of companies now being aware of the people’s demand for a “sustainable and responsible industry.”
The challenge for the consumer then is to discern whether a product is actually environment-friendly or if it is merely green-washed to appear so. “Consumers have to be responsible with what they buy and how often they buy these things. [To] be conscious about the environment means to buy less things and to take it slow.” Nonetheless, a positive change is in the works. As Phoebe said, “The movement has begun.”
Furthering the cause of Mean Living
Recognizing that people tend to respond more to content they relate to, Phoebe makes sure that everything she publishes (whether it’s on her blog or on her YouTube channel) is done so on a personal level. “More people can relate when you are in the same scenario as they are in.” Though she admits, it can get frustrating when people bandwagon on the cause just for the sake of looking good, as the zero-waste initiative seems to be the “in” thing now. Phoebe chooses to constantly remind herself of her two main goals: to educate and to inspire. She makes it a point to never stop asking questions and to continue “going against the norm.”
It seems as though Phoebe’s approach to this noble cause of zero-waste living—personal, relatable, simple, and most importantly, sincere—is more than enough to start the domino effect our environment needs.
And her secret to having it all come together? To Phoebe, it’s simple. “I put my heart in what I do.”