JULY is plastic-free month. Although plastic (in all forms) has made life more convenient for us, we can’t deny how it has damaged the ecosystem -- from the toxic emission to produce it and to the damage it has caused the marine life with the plastic that ends up in the ocean, it’s really high time to rethink of the way we consume plastic.
Different environment groups and individuals have long ago been advocating for more sustainable alternatives for plastic. From July 1 to 31, 2021, envi and people’s groups under the Plastic-Free Pilipinas (PFP) launched activities that aim to “highlight the groups’ campaigns for a plastic-free lifestyle, and to urge lawmakers to pass sustainable and comprehensive waste management policies and safer practices that would reduce waste”.
Here in Davao City, many social entrepreneurs and envi groups continue to advocate for a less plastic and more sustainable lifestyle. We asked a few of them to share their opinions and their own motivations in pursuing a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
An ideal community is one where dependence to plastic is not the norm but rather a taboo because of its environmental and health concerns and because there is a policy that prohibits the use of any kind of plastic. The members are working together to come up with a solution to address the problem of plastic pollution.
An ideal community is one where policy and decision makers are responsive to the needs of the environment and of its people. One which also gives priority to the protection and conservation of the natural resources and not only focuses on economic development. It is one that thrives without the fear of being flooded due to plastics clogging the waterways or polluting our river system.
Atty. Mark Penalver
Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) executive director
When we see a single piece of plastic, we say, oh it’s just plastic! Then, we can just throw it anytime, anywhere. Some plastics, we can use multiple times but many are single-use and for many years now we have been producing, purchasing, using, and disposing of plastics to the environment. Hence, the increasing global plastic pollution which affects the environment, various ecosystems, and people’s health. We have to remember that every stage of the life-cycle of plastic involves toxic chemicals, which also threaten human health, the environment, biodiversity, and the climate.
As ordinary citizens, we have to be aware of the impacts of plastic pollution and contribute actions to solve it. It is very important to not only know but contribute actions in preventing or reducing plastic pollution since it affects us all, the environment, the food chain, and all our life support systems.
International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) Reg’l Coordinator for Southeast and East Asia
EcoWaste Coalition, Philippines
I decided [for this business] because I noticed other businesses are taking advantage of eco-conscious consumers. They are overpricing them and making it feel that an eco-friendly lifestyle is an expensive one. The market is growing, but as much as I want to increase sales, I also tell my customers to be conscious with what they order from us.
What is unique with our business is that we follow zero waste practices and pass on those savings to our customers. Small things, such as recycling packaging, low power machines, locally-sourced materials, small inventory, and bicycle couriers make a huge impact in cost. Also, we even sell items with small cosmetic damage at a super discounted price instead of discarding them.
Jason Te Occidental
Davao Ecogifts owner
Personal care products are one of our basic needs because we frequently consume them. Therefore, we are mindful of the materials we use, ensuring that they are not harmful to the environment and can be recycled as well as refraining from consuming single-use plastics.
In our simple ways, we create products that support the needs of our customers, thereby encouraging them to continuously use MNQ and help the environment in return.
We learn and look for ways to improve and support better in reducing single-use plastics and contribute to a waste-free community.
MNQ Handmade Cosmetics owner
Reusing things has been one of the key points in reducing carbon footprint. That's how I started, and until now I am mindful of the things I purchase. I have two things to ask myself when I have the urge to buy something, "How long will this serve me?" and "Do I really need this?" These questions help me stay conscious about possible waste, and I encourage people to do the same. I formed a group on Facebook called "Buy Nothing Davao," where people could post things that they don't need and wish to throw away.
I love how I was able to share to potential clients the health, budget, and environmental benefits of switching to more environment-friendly products, like menstrual cloth pads and menstrual cups. I was afraid the lockdowns brought about by the pandemic would make it even harder for my shop, but it seems like Davaoeños have slowly embraced reusable alternatives, thanks to the power of social media.
Emily Dominica Simon-King
The EcoPotato Shop owner
I always bring my own reusable bags and reusable containers when I buy goods at the palengke and the mall. I also use washable cloth pads and a menstrual cup. I either take the jeep or ride my bike to work. However, I want to emphasize that reducing my personal carbon footprint means little when 71% of the global carbon emissions are caused by just 100 fossil fuel companies (which are also the biggest plastic manufacturers). That is why as a consumer, I organize with communities in building Zero Waste systems while campaigning for clean energy and an end to single-use plastic production.
A Zero Waste community properly implements segregated waste collection, sustainably manages biodegradables (the biggest bulk of our waste) to address the need for food security, creates value for recyclables by linking with recyclers and upcyclers, and opens livelihood and employment opportunities from waste.
Break Free from Plastic
Regional coordinator for Mindanao