In a modern world where convenience is everything, it’s often much easier for us to choose options that are cheap and made to be thrown away after a couple of uses. But when you look at the big picture, the items that you discard not only pile up, harming the environment in the process, but also end up costing you more money than you realize in the long-term.

In celebration of World Environment Day, here are a couple of easy steps you can take to be a little less wasteful, and some brands to look into that sell affordable, sustainable, and long-lasting items that not only help you save money and Mother Nature but support local businesses and workers, too.

Buy clothes from ukay-ukays or secondhand stores

Trends come and go, and fast fashion is there for that ride. More than a handful of chain retail stores have new products lined up for us every week, and we’ve grown accustomed to buying trendy clothes that’ll only last a year or two at most. But by shopping at ukay-ukays, not only do you give second-hand clothing a new life, but you also score unique and sturdy items that you can’t find anywhere else, all while saving much more money too.

While COVID-19 affects our ability to go out and shop, you can still support local brands by buying online and get the same “ukay high” by checking out Instagram stores like The Vintage Junkie Manila that sell one-of-a-kind, vintage pieces.

Switch out plastic straws for reusable ones

We all know how bad plastic straws are for the environment–unlike other single-use plastic items, straws are too small to be recycled and end up in landfills or, worse, the ocean. Metal and glass straws are a good alternative, but we recommend you check out Bambuhay. Not only are their bamboo straws reusable and biodegradable, but the enterprise also helps local farmers by sourcing their materials directly from them.

Ditch plastic cups and get discounts as you do it

Sleepless nights cramming for work or school with a coffee by our side is an almost universal experience for a lot of us millennials and Gen Z-ers. But something you might not take account of is how many paper or plastic cups you’re going through with every coffee run you make in a year.

By buying yourself a reusable tumbler like the ones sold by Cupping Initiative, not only are you cutting down on a significant amount of use of plastic, but you can also save money at several coffee shops that put discounts on your order when you bring your own cup in.

Use tote bags for your groceries that also double as a fashion statement

While plastic shopping bags have mostly been replaced by paper bags at groceries and retail stores as a more “eco-friendly” option, they actually still take the same time to degrade in landfills, and they actually generate more air and water pollution than plastic. In the end, neither is a good option. Tote bags, on the other hand, are interchangeable accessories for either fashion or errands. Bring along bags like the ones from Blank Canvas with you on your next shopping trip not only to reduce waste but to make errand-running look cooler than it actually is.

Replace plastic cutlery with a sleeker reusable set

Eating at fast food restaurants or getting takeout entails the use of a lot of plastic that’ll be thrown away almost immediately. A first step to getting rid of all that unnecessary waste is by refusing plastic cutlery at the counter and opting for a reusable set like the ones at Paralúman. Snapping your fork halfway through your meal becomes a problem you never have to worry about again.

And that’s it! While these are just a couple of small steps, it might just be enough to lead you to a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle that also helps support local and independent brands. We know that buying new things might be the last thing on your mind right now, but we hope this list of investments could help you out in the long run and even save you a little bit of coin while you’re at it.

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