by Ashlee Baritugo
For 21-year-old student Cher Diesta, sustainability was a push towards the right direction. As a full-time interior design student, Diesta exhausts whatever measures she can to practice her love for the environment and incorporate it with her passion for interior design.
Her story with sustainability began slowly. From a planting project in Senior High where she began collecting plastic cup noodles to reuse, followed by the next summer, when she was on a phone call with her friend at home, her gaze fixated on a mound of plastic in front of her. Bothered by the amount, her intrigue led her to begin looking into eco-bricks and collecting plastic to donate to organizations.
“It started with me being aware of my environment, my surroundings, being aware na ‘hey, there’s a problem with this, let’s try to find a solution.’ So I started collecting plastic, started doing the eco-brick,” she shared. When it became clear to her that this newfound passion to reduce plastic waste wasn’t going anywhere, Diesta took to Instagram to share with her friends and followers her daily practices, emphasizing how powerful of a tool she has found social media to be.
Through social media, she was able to discover Simula just as she began to get back into sustainability after adjusting to college, realizing the importance of an accessible platform for the advocacy. “I came across Simula PH...it was so organized and so well-put, and parang it would really get your attention. It’s a nice spot if you want to start living sustainably kasi everything’s there, it’s so easy to look for things and easy to manage your way around it.”
On the subject of the importance of access to sustainable spaces and local brands for Filipinos, she emphasizes the importance of getting involved now. “We really have to look into small businesses ‘cause they do so much...They really have this care for their customers that most of the time the big corporations don’t have. And you never really know how much that small purchase could help them talaga. It’s very important that the community is more open, that they have more access and they are more aware of these small businesses. Alam mo yun, kasi tayo tayo ‘yun eh!”
For Diesta, living sustainably and creating an impact can be guided by three steps: to be aware, to act, and to engage. After overcoming her trouble and hesitancy with the second, the 21-year-old student fulfilled her promise in joining her university’s premier environmental organization as its assistant Public Relations Officer. “To enforce people to do something, to change, to act, I’ll always try to use that leverage of mine to get more people involved when it comes to the environment,” she shared.
To anyone hesitant about beginning their sustainable journey, Diesta shares that while maintaining the lifestyle can be difficult, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. “Sometimes it’s extra work, it’s an extra thought, but you just have to remember why you’re doing it in the first place. When you remember that you’re doing it for the planet, it [gets] easier...There will really be some imperfect corners, but it’s okay, the thing is na you’re doing something, and that’s what matters. And when you do something, it creates this culture of change that people will see and people could get influenced rin. Sometimes you just really never know how much what you’re doing could affect them.”