FRESH from school, nine-year-old Arianna Ugsang visited the Plastic Barter Store in Cebu City on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 to check if her favorite toy was still there.
She felt relieved after seeing the item, a doll, still standing on a shelf.
The girl does not have to shell out money to take the toy with her. She was told to collect and trade two kilos of plastics with the store so she could get it.
Earlier that day, Ugsang’s sister turned over four kilos of plastics and received a kilo of rice.
The siblings and other street children patronize the Plastic Barter Store because they can trade waste plastics for packs of rice, slippers, toys and canned goods.
The store aims to help the environment, and not just leave the cleaning to the street sweepers. This was the management’s vision when it opened the store along Mabini Street in Barangay Sto. Niño, Cebu City last June 16.
Employee Gina Espenilla said the store wants to minimize the volume of plastics that could go to the sea and poison the fish.
“At least, through this, we are able to help the environment,” she said.
The store’s efforts could also help mitigate the flooding problems in the city.
Espenilla said the items for barter were all donated by some business entities.
Plastic Barter Store accepts plastic bottles, wrappers of candies, packages of shampoo and coffee, straws and plastic bags. It is open Monday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Espenilla said two kilos of plastics could be exchanged for a toy, or a pair of slippers; four kilos for a kilo of rice, or one shirt; six kilos for two canned goods, or tailoring materials; eight kilos for one kilo of rice and two canned goods, or tumbler.
The plastic wrappers and packages are ground and mixed with other materials to make hollow blocks; the store gives the plastic bottles to 12 Basket Movement, which makes bags from recyclable materials.
Espenilla said the Plastic Barter Store is a first of its kind in Cebu and it has been receiving some 93 kilos of plastics per day since its first day of operation.
The store’s regular customers are the street children and informal urban settlers. But Espenilla said there were times that some well-off individuals visited the store and tried to barter their waste plastics for some items.
Espenilla said she would request them to just donate their trash.
“There are more people who need the items,” she said.
Aside from helping the environment, Espenilla said the store is keeping the street children away from vices. The itinerant kids, she said, learned that gathering waste plastics is a good thing to do as it would bring them joy.