Five ways to help the environment, from paperless billing to metal straws

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 5) β€” The Philippines is the third worst plastic polluter of oceans, Greenpeace said in a 2017 report.

In September that year, the environmental group named big companies and manufacturers as major contributors to a "sachet economy."

But the Philippines isn't a lone offender. United Nations Environment says plastic makes up 10 percent of all waste the world generates. About 50 percent of the plastic used is disposable. It noted that 500 billion plastic bags are used every year and 1 million plastic bottles are used every minute.

Pollution also pulls at heartstrings with viral photos and video of how underwater animals are affected: from a sea horse with its tail wrapped around a cotton bud to a dead whale in Thailand that ingested 17 pounds of plastic.

This World Environment Day, CNN Philippines' The Source spoke to Planet CORA founder Antoinette Taus and social enterprise Sip PH CEO Pocholo Espina about refusing, reducing, reusing, and recycling.

As the regular individual waits for legislation or business to take action, here are some ways you can get started.

1. Refuse plastic bags, lids, and utensils.

Planet CORA invites everyone to "go topless," especially when ordering drinks or taking out food.

"Pag sinabi natin no, that not only stops the plastic from being used, nadidiscourage ang mga businesses... na mas maraming tao ang may ayaw," said Taus.

[Translation: When we say no, that not only stops the plastic from being used, but it discourages businesses... (They'll know) a lot of people don't like it.]

2. Get a reusable straw.

Taus noted that in the United States alone, about 500 million disposable straws are used a day.

Although these statistics are not available in the Philippines, it is best to curb individual impact sooner rather than later. Taus' own bamboo straw comes from Bambuhay PH, which works together with marginalized farmers.

There is also Sip PH, a rising enterprise which sells metal straws and bamboo utensils. The straws come in various sizes, in black, silver, and rose gold. It also has an upcoming straw product in line with Pride Month.

"We're often paralyzed by the idea that something bad is happening... The hope of Sip was to provide an accessible alternative," said Espina. "Here: this is something you can do today. It's easy."

The straws can be ordered online or through 50 partner establishments, including milktea store Serenitea and craft store Common Room PH. A classic set begins at P120, but Sip PH also provides bundles with bamboo utensils.

3. Go paperless.

Enroll in paperless billing and if you can, avoid printing. If it is necessary, use two sides of the same paper.

"Going paperless makes the chore a little bit more bearable and eco-friendly for it lowers your carbon footprint due from paper manufacturing," Planet Cora wrote on its Instagram page.

4. E-mail businesses and establishments to pressure them for environment-friendly options.

Apart from Serenitea, Sip PH also has an upcoming partnership with smoothie retailer Jamba Juice. It is working on more collaborations with cafes.

Espina shared these partnerships were enabled because of proactive consumers, who e-mailed or messaged the establishments asking for more environment-friendly options.

"If we get these businesses to start doing their part, then we create an environment to change," said Espina.

5. Be wary of microplastics.

Taus warned that the public should be aware of where their plastic goes. She warned that the material does not decompose, but only photodegrades.

"It splits up into smaller and smaller microscopic pieces which we call microplastics," said Taus. "There currently exists no way in the world to [filter it]."

Related: It's not just the oceans: Microplastic pollution is all around us

One can start by opting for beauty and skincare products that do not use microbeads, a type of microplastic.

Find out more and watch the full interview with Taus and Espina here.