There’s a growing consciousness about the amount of waste we produce in our homes, the kind of food we eat, and the impact our lifestyle makes on the environment. Thanks to the passion and perseverance of groups who continue to work towards sustainable living, the noise surrounding this issue has become difficult to ignore. One of these groups is MUNI.
MUNI is a group of passionate individuals that encourages mindful living by being more conscious of how we eat, shop, and travel every day. MUNI first created digital awareness and held community meetups in 2012. Today, it continues to increase its tribe by way of regular meetups, travels, market days, employee engagement initiatives, and more.
MUNI comes from the Filipino word muni-muni, which means to think or reflect. Indeed, when you spend a day at a MUNI Market showcasing healthy and sustainable products or attend a MUNI Meetup focusing on, say, the zero-waste home, it does make you ponder: How are your daily choices affecting the planet we live in?
Change is where passion is
“Each activity we do and each individual we make a meaningful impact on contribute to our larger goal of a mindful, sustainable world,” says Wanna Cancio, MUNI Director for Partnerships and Resource Innovation. “Having a continuously growing, connected, and ecologically empathetic community of cause-driven creatives from various fields is what we’re proud of.”
But just because the team behind MUNI as well as its partners are pursuing their passion doesn’t mean their work is any easier. Wanna admits it’s still tough, especially because what they’re pushing for tends to be ‘inconvenient’ when you look at how much pressure people face in a fast-paced and consumption-driven world.
MUNI believes that regardless of religious or political beliefs, each one of us is bound by the planet we live in. Wanna explains, “Our lives are made possible by the gifts of the earth, and also made richer by the beauty we experience in it. It seems like in man’s pursuit of progress, we often forget the other costs (environmental, social) that come with a misguided notion of success.”
The best way to be reminded of each person’s responsibility is to spend time with like-minded individuals. No matter where you are in your journey toward a more sustainable life, you only need an open mind and a willingness to learn in order to make the most out of MUNI Meet-ups.
Particular themes like conscious consumption, zero waste, sustainable dining, and travel are tackled by experts and professionals. Aside from introductory talks, participants also spend time interacting during group discussions and networking sessions.
“Ultimately, we learned to realize that change is really where passion is. We always work much harder on things we believe in. That’s how MUNI’s passion for sustainability fuels the work we do,” Wanna explains.
Starting with little wins, every day
One can’t talk about the work MUNI does without looking at the bigger picture. The United Nations (UN) came up with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015. While these are merely a global vision for humanity, the UN says it is everyone’s responsibility to make it a reality.
“Seventeen. That’s a lot. And to think, each SDG has sub-problems it aims to address, too. Yet I think the biggest problem here is people looking at all of the problems, and feeling an overwhelming lack of power or helplessness to effect any significant change,” relates Wanna.
While the easier thing to do is to be apathetic and continue with life and business as usual, MUNI recognizes the need to keep hope alive and empower people not just to change their own lifestyle but also to influence those around them, creating more impactful change.
“It starts first with our individual lifestyle, the little wins day-to-day,” Wanna says. If you don’t know where to start, Wanna suggests you begin with three simple things:
Find your tribe. Look for people you can learn from and share things with. Start by joining the MUNI community.
Keep on learning and asking questions. Read books, visit websites, watch videos, take courses, attend events, and learn from other people. Sometimes, new research could supersede previous findings, so it’s important to be curious, open, and updated.
Get started. It can be overwhelming, but just see what changes you can make in your life every day, and build up from there. It can be as simple as bringing your own eating utensils to the office to avoid single-use plastic spoons and forks. Eat a more local and plant-based diet, bring a bag for every trip you make to the convenience store, etc.
What’s important is being conscious and mindful of your impact to the environment, Wanna says, so that it cascades to the different areas of your life: how you are at home, how you are at work, and how you are when you travel. The hope is that individuals like you who embrace these lifestyle changes can work with local communities for bigger projects.
MUNI is definitely on the right track, as the interest in sustainability continues to grow. From sporadic meetups in 2013 that averaged 15 to 20 attendees, they now average 70 to 75 attendees at monthly meetups in Manila. “It’s our goal to keep growing the community, engage them more proactively, keep creating events for people to learn from and participate in, and to also reach areas outside of Metro Manila as well,” concludes Wanna.
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