A ZERO-waste grocery store in uptown Cagayan de Oro has been the center of attention among environment advocates.
The Happy Earth Store is not your ordinary go-to store.
The store serves as a refilling station for a variety of kitchen essentials such as cooking oil, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and to your favorite snacks.
They also offer environment-friendly personal care products, such as shampoo bars, toothpaste in a can, zero-waste kits, and laundry essentials.
So, when one goes to the store, customers always have their own empty containers ready for refill.
Owner Shariffa Patayon said her store aims to minimize and eventually eliminate single-use plastics to promote healthy-living as well as protect marine life.
A mother of two, Patayon said she started her business with a vision to preserve the environment for the future of her kids.
"We recognize that we are a 'sachet country' because also of economic reasons, but what is sold here are all affordable, I make sure it's affordable. It's not only cheap but it also makes you adopt to a more sustainable life," Patayon said.
The store, located in Lane 101, Mastersons Avenue, has been recognized by the city as Eco Ambassador "in promoting and mainstreaming a safe and liveable environment".
Assistant City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) officer Elvisa Mabelin said the city needs more stores with the same initiative as the Happy Earth Store.
Mabelin said the store not only practice the city's plastic bag regulation but also does much more, like promoting sustainable living, and putting into one's consciousness that waste generation and disposal is the responsibility of everybody.
"Dapat naa sa consciousness sa matag usa, there should be a behavioral change nga dili magkalas ug resources, that we should be mindful nga unsa na diay kadaghan sa basura nga atong na-generate," Mabelin said.
Mabelin said there should be waste segregation at source, diversion of compostable materials, so that only those residual waste shall be dumped at the sanitary landfill.
The cost and operation expenses of the landfill is too expensive, and that the Clenro fears they cannot keep up with the amount of garbage generated every day, she said.
Aside from the community support, the national government's support is also crucial, she said, particularly in legislating anti-plastic laws.
"Kami sa syudad, patabang mi gyud mi sa national kay dili namo control ang manufacturing sa plastic, because what we only do here is only the regulation of the plastic wastes," she said.
So far, the city's plastic bag regulation is doing well and has been benchmarked by other cities and nearby municipalities.
"We are happy that they have noticed our campaign because we need more local government units to practice living a more sustainable environment," she added.