AC Alyzsa Dy shares her journey toward living sustainably and making lifestyle changes that make an impact on the environment.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall
The relationship of the environment and humans are closely intertwined and each element depends on the other to survive. Theoretically, there are different types of environmentalism, yet it all boils down to harmony and balance (O’Riordan, 1981). Throughout my journey with sustainability, I realized that respect for the environment is not passive, but rather, an active choice. The environment is not merely a resource capital or a source of livelihood, but also improves our daily lives symbolically and aesthetically (Appleyard, 1979). This was especially true during and after the pandemic when I found a deeper appreciation of nature and my connection to it. In the past year working at Villgro Philippines and with most of my work centering on the importance of the environment and sustainability, I have greater respect and appreciation for the environment that translates to actions.
My deeper understanding of human-environment relations translated to thinking about concrete actions in order to preserve the environment. I realized how toxic consumerism is to the environment, and how thoughtless everyday consumption leads to environmental degradation. Despite how easy it is to just throw away something, I never really thought about what happens to my trash afterward. This ever-pressing need to own material things has more than financial costs — it is an environmental burden as well. In a day and age where everything and anything is so accessible, it is so easy to disregard the consequences of our purchases. The harm it does to the environment and, consequently, society, is not worth the convenience.
Working at Villgro Philippines and within the climate vertical gives me hope, especially seeing the types of businesses that have arisen over the past years in the entrepreneurial space. More interest and investments are being funneled into climate initiatives, enterprises, and innovations across the globe. In 2022, climate-related investments have increased significantly despite geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges in order to achieve the nations’ net-zero emission commitments by 2050 (Dahlqvist et al., 2023). The same report touted the global efforts for energy transitions, with many governments investing in more sustainable forms of energy. In the Philippines, this movement has trickled down in various ways. The Department of Energy (2020) released the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2020–2040, blueprinting how we will achieve energy independence by targeting 35 percent of the country’s energy share coming from renewable energy sources by 2030, and 50 percent by 2040. Propelling climate initiatives is also the recent implementation of the Republic Act 11898, or the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022, which requires companies to develop a mechanism to retrieve their plastic packaging (Allanigue, 2023). Recently, more diverse food choices and plant-based options are available in restaurants and fast-food chains despite the heavy dependence on meat in the typical Filipino diet. Despite the long way to go, it is relieving to see that climate change is finally now at the forefront of conversations.
Perhaps the hardest part about realizing our individual impact and consequences to the environment is how big of a hurdle climate change truly is to surmount. One of my greatest struggles is feeling that my actions would only ever be a drop in the ocean. However, I came to realize that the smallest of actions can lead to a greater impact over time. The World Bank Group (2022) estimates that each person generates an average of 0.79 kg of waste per day, which is an average lifetime footprint of over 23 metric tons in waste.
With this in mind, I’ve sought incremental changes over the past few years, and have taken proactive steps to reduce my consumption and take steps to change my lifestyle.
Though my actions are small, I made sure that each of my lifestyle changes is manageable, practical, and something I can sustain over a long period of time. Whenever possible, I also try to use and promote local products. In the past few years, I have shifted to shampoo bars and conditioners in order to reduce plastic waste, and surprisingly have found that my hair is actually more manageable since I shifted. After learning about how palm oil negatively affects ecosystems and wildlife, I make an active decision to check the label before buying products in order to avoid products based on palm oil. I currently purchase my shampoo, conditioners, and soaps from Marta’s Handmade since they tick all the boxes in what I’m looking for, though there are so many great options available in the market such as Magwai. Furthermore, I have stopped using napkins or tampons and started my journey with the local brand Sinaya Cup to aid in my shift to menstrual cups because it produces less waste and feels more hygienic. Like any wannabe girl scout who likes to come prepared, I also bring a lightweight water bottle with me everywhere I go instead of buying plastic water bottles, and a reusable tote bag to prevent using plastic or paper bags. As someone who likes fashion and beauty but disagrees with the trend-based consumerism that it entails, I try to incorporate more sustainable decisions that would still bring me satisfaction. Many of my clothes still come from my mom and aunts, and I tailor this to suit my style and size. Any of my old clothes are updated and revamped to make them more relevant to current trends so I would reach for them more often. As much as possible, I try to stay away from ultra-fast fashion brands and purchase from thrift stores or curated thrift finds online such as Nirvana Collective or Wear Forward. Recently, I’ve been trying to be more mindful of my meat and dairy intake and choose plant-based options when available.
My main takeaway in this journey was that no matter what changes you incorporate into your lifestyle to sustainability, it is essential it is feasible for the long-term and suits your budget, needs, and capabilities while remaining a good degree of challenge. Environmental sustainability is a proactive action that leads to a lifestyle change, but one that is essential if we want to keep our environment. We cannot keep abusing our environment for our own convenience. Sustainability is more than a one-time choice, but is a lifestyle that influences all other choices in order to preserve the environment. It is one that I’ll carry with me and continue to work on bit by bit to do my part for the environment.
Allanigue, A. (2023, January 27). DENR issues IRR for Extended Producer Responsibility Act of 2022. Philippine Information Agency. https://pia.gov.ph/news/2023/01/27/denr-issues-irr-for-extended-producer-responsibility-act-of-2022
Appleyard, D. (1979). The environment as a social symbol. Ekistics,46(278), 272–281.
Dahlqvist, F., Kane, S., Leinert, L., Moosburger, M., & Rasmussen, A. (2023, March 13). Climate investing: Continuing breakout growth through uncertain times. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/sustainability/our-insights/climate-investing-continuing-breakout-growth-through-uncertain-times
Department of Energy, Philippine Energy Plan: Towards a sustainable and Clean Energy Future, 2020–2040 (2020). Taguig City. Retrieved from https://www.doe.gov.ph/sites/default/files/pdf/pep/PEP%202022-2040%20Final%20eCopy_20220819.pdf
O’Riordan, T. (1981). Environmental issues. Progress in Human Geography,5(3), 393–407. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/030913258100500304
World Bank Group. (2023, March 30). Solid waste management. World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/urbandevelopment/brief/solid-waste-management#:~:text=Around%20the%20world%2C%20waste%20generation,kilograms%20per%20person%20per%20day.
About the Author
AC Alyzsa Dy is the Senior Program Associate — Incubation at Villgro Philippines. She manages end-to-end incubation and acceleration programs for various verticals such as Climate Action (SUP Challenge — Plastic-Free Philippines), Ways4Waste (in partnership with The Incubation Network), and Healthcare (AI4Health Asia). AC also serves as a portfolio manager and supports the climate space and the cohorts in the programs through linkages, mentorship, and tailored assistance.
Connect with AC at firstname.lastname@example.org