How (and why) minimalism can save the world


Disclaimer: The opinions here are solely mine and I am by no means an expert in minimalism. Mainly just a passionate enthusiast.

The basic premise of minimalism is having only what you really need and understanding the purpose behind owning them.

I identify as a minimalist, but by no means am I perfect. Here, I want to share a thing or two about why I think minimalism can remove a ton of headaches.

Minimalism in relationships

The world is a noisy and highly audible place. It can be taxing for introverts like me. Luckily, we have the power ourselves to manage our relationships healthily.

You might have heard a lot from Marie Kondo’s tips. In relationships, minimalism can also be applied.

I prefer keeping and staying in touch with those who I think are real friends. Gone are the high school days where having tons of friends is the ‘cool thing’. Now, the quality in our friendships is what we should be striving for. As the world gets more and more complex, we need people who will walk the hard path with us.

By now you probably think that minimalism is “quality over quantity”. I don’t think this is necessarily so. Again, minimalism is about having only what you really need and understanding the purpose behind them. If you’re the outgoing and jolly type of person, probably having a lot of friends will work out very well for you.

Minimalism in money

This is where the “quality > quantity” argument becomes even more applicable. Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean you should settle for less when it comes to personal finances. It actually means the exact opposite.

Minimalism is about spending your money wisely. It’s about spending it on wise purchases and investments. Get that insurance, mutual funds, business — what have you. What matters is that your money is going somewhere that it is going to grow. If you want financial independence, this is the way to go.

This is not to say that you should deprive yourself and not spend your money. By all means, find happiness also through your spendings. Personally, however, I prefer spending them on good experiences.

Minimalism on the environment

There are many subtopics under this. From the clothes we wear, food we eat, our low impact lifestyle — all of these are related with minimalism.

For one, limiting the clothes we wear has a positive and indirect impact to the environment. By having less clothes, we help lessen the production.

Another example is the type of food we eat. As much as possible, we have to understand how our food is made. Only then will we understand the kind of impacts that the global food production system is causing to the environment.

By being minimal in our purchases and choosing wisely which products to buy, we are already helping the environment. After all, the real power lies with the consumers. If we, for example, lessen our usage of plastic, then the producers should have no choice but to shift to another product line that is hopefully more eco-friendly.

At the end of the day, minimalism encompasses different areas of our lives. It’s not just about having less. It’s about understanding why we have a certain thing or person, and assessing ourselves if they are worth having in the first place.

Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future:

Schools and the youth: Pedestals for environmental protection, restoration


The clock strikes noon. I’m walking along a pavement sprinkled with lush greenery and carefully placed blocks of stone and tiny lamps. I pass by a building covered with vines from top to bottom—a commune with nature I rarely see in city buildings. Within a hallway, I’m led to a bigger space with shoots of bamboo dangling from the ceiling. Towards the corner, a mural depicting Mother Nature’s beauty and charm captivates my eyes. When finally reaching my destination, I’m greeted by smiles and welcoming hands as we begin the day’s activities. 

I was fortunate to co-facilitate a workshop with MakeSense Philippines in Foundation University, Dumaguete City that teaches college and senior high school students how to create their own social initiatives. After the workshop, the students had brilliant ideas on plastic waste solutions, solid waste management, and solving unintended teen pregnancy, among many others. 

The workshop also came in at the right time for the students as they are beginning to be more aware and proactive with the issues facing their local communities. As Dumaguete City becomes more urbanized, they experience the same issues as other cities, ranging from air pollution to the improper disposal of plastic and other wastes. 

The role of schools

One thing I learned in the workshop was that schools should be among the forefront of providing opportunities to the youth to engage in social initiatives. These are not only limited to community engagement requirements, but also to the core curriculum and basic classroom activities. 

When speaking with the youth of today, I can confidently say that they are more aware and creative than any of the previous generations. Schools just have to give them the chance and the right environment to unleash their creative potential—not just their academic aptitude. 

Gone are the days of pure classroom instruction, paperwork, or recitation—the youth of today need to move, and they need to be taught how to move fast. It is not enough anymore that schools teach the youth how to articulate themselves and engage in intellectual discourse. In the world of forms that we live in, action and engagement reign supreme. 

The youth and tomorrow

The protection and restoration of the environment is the defining issue of today’s generation. Across the world, the youth are getting more and more involved with movements going against inaction and passivity on environmental issues. The likes of Autumn Peltier, Isra Hirsi, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and Greta Thunberg—all youth below 20 years of age—have already jump-started global movements of their own. They are inspiring the youth like me to create ripples of positive change, wherever we are and however simple or complex it may be. No one is ever too small to make a difference. 

In FU, the youth have the same sentiments. They hunger for change and they want it fast. They are taking matters into their own hands and are starting to create initiatives in their local communities. One group of students I talked to wanted to create a machine that would recycle plastic bottles as well as incentivize with cash those who donate the plastic bottles. Initiatives like these are something that schools need to support—and it needs to be done fast. The students need to be exposed and engaged with the innovation ecosystem within their local communities and beyond. 

Biosphere consciousness

I recently watched a documentary by social and economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin where he says that the world is now entering a state of ‘biosphere consciousness’ or simply put, a spike in the increase of environmental awareness across the world. 

If schools—among many other actors in the ecosystem—could provide more opportunities for students to engage with this changing world order, then we can have better chances of supporting and advancing it. 

One way this can be done is by teaching the youth how to create their own social initiatives. It does not have to be only for the environment, because when we refer to the planet’s biosphere, everything under it is involved, from politics, culture, economics, and technology, to name a few. 

While the clock is ticking for the environment, together we will need to move faster than ever. Schools and the youth are among the pedestals for such change. 

This article was originally published in Manila Standard – Green Light.

Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future:

Why going for the environment is healthy for the organization


This post was made in collaboration with Bambuhay’s Green Session titled “Why going for the environment is healthy for the organization”.

Last August 10, 2019, my sustainability friends/advocates and I went to a seminar organized by Bambuhay, a social enterprise in the Philippines known for its bamboo straws and other eco-friendly products. The seminar invited three guest speakers: yours truly, my friend who is a zero waste advocate, and Colin Steley, the APAC Director of Stratcon Singapore. We each presented our advocacy and answered some questions that our audience had during the open forum.

For me, I took the opportunity to talk about Berde Boy, my sustainability blog. I shared what led to the creation of my blog, why blogging about sustainability is important, and how blogging can be used by social enterprises as a leverage for their publicity and social media traction. What was most interesting to me, however, were the insights shared during the open forum.

One is the possibility of me creating vlogs/videos about my experiences in sustainability. It was brought up as a question by one of the audience members. I told her that her suggestion was very timely, because for the past weeks, I have been considering on creating vlogs as additional content for my blog. This is one thing I’ll be working on in the very, very near future, so I’m excited to launch these in my blog.

The questions raised by the audience on sustainability practices also caught our attention. For one, I’m glad that the youth is engaged in so many initiatives related to sustainability. Second, I learned that the youth is also spreading their advocacy through their social media channels. Like what I do in my blog, one of my goals is really to spread awareness and let everyone know that there are plenty of solutions to our sustainability issues today. Third, zero waste is one of the youth’s top concerns when it comes to sustainability. I also gave an insight that — what if, we referred to it as ‘low impact’ instead? Zero waste comes from the notion that waste can be completely eliminated, although I do not think this is humanely possible. Hence, low impact sounds like a more feasible approach. It tells us to minimize our waste as much as possible, but considering that we live in a modern society, waste altogether cannot be easily eliminated.

The highlight of the seminar was Colin’s talk about Stratcon Singapore and the Green Business Bureau — two companies he is currently working with. Colin provided us a high-level discussion on sustainability, specifically on using data and metrics to help businesses become ‘green’.

Following all the talks, we had a networking session with the audience members and our fellow speakers. Indeed, creating networks and collaborations in the local sustainability sector would later create ripples, which would become waves and tides. This is why we do what we do.

Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future: