Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bag to the future

Probably as much as we try to steer clear of people who are plastik
(phoney or not real), we don’t want to see tons of plastic garbage in
our midst. Did you know that plastic bags (and other synthetic
packaging materials) comprised 76 percent of the four cubic meters of
floating trash retrieved from the once-postcard-pretty-but-now-dirty
Manila Bay, according to a joint survey by EcoWaste Coalition and
Greenpeace volunteers in 2006?

Now come these fantastic eco/green bags that you can use in most major
supermarkets in lieu of plastic bags. Mind you, some of them are
really eco chic —you wouldn’t mind toting, for instance, Rustan’s
Supermarket’s limited-edition Fernando Amorsolo shopping bag which
bares the heart and art of the country’s first National Artist. It’s
art on canvas (bag). More than a grocery

At Rustan’s Supermarkets and Shopwise, you also bag twice the points
if you use your green bag, which you can exchange for gift
certificates. It does pay to be green!

For its part, SM Supermalls came out with its first line of reusable
bags over a year ago, with paintings by prominent Filipino artist
Manuel Baldemor printed on them. SM sold 1.5 million Baldemor bags,
whose popularity has spread to many other countries in the world like
Spain, Italy, France, Greece, and the US. Have bag, will travel!

Recently, SM Supermalls launched its new line of eco bags with this
message: Renew. Spark. Flow. Breathe. These reusable bags are designed
to inspire a life change among the youth. Truly, the furture is in the

Now, have you seen Carina Rodriguez’s photobag? “It’s a reusable gift
bag I have developed for more than a couple of years and was out on
the market for almost two years but unnoticed by consumers,” Carina
tells us in her e-mail.

Carina gives us this brief picture of her photobag: “It’s retailed by
Picture City International, Inc. and basically developed to reduce the
use of plastic and encourage the reuse of paper bags as many times as
possible since it is an all-occasion and all-season personalized
reusable paper bag.”

With Christmas just around the proverbial bend, Carina laments, “I am
personally troubled by the amount of garbage that this Christmas
season will produce, if everyone will again use wrappers and ribbons
which, according to studies, cover thousands of miles every
gift-giving season.”

There was a time when she was practically bugging people (including
government officials) with her bag. WWF (World Wildlife Fund)
Philippines did take notice of Carina’s bag and endorsed it to its
units nationwide. More than making money, Carina stresses that she
wanted to make a difference with this advocacy.

She shares, “By the way, this is also a source of income for some
urban poor communities in Quezon City, where we also give free
training prior to the actual production.”

The free training and seminar are intended to: increase environmental
awareness, communication, and information; help conserve natural
resources; promote awareness of the ill effects of plastic bags; and
provide livelihood for the poor.

By the way, the photobag is available at the Holy Book Stall inside UP
Diliman Shopping Center and at the UP Credit Cooperative Store.
There’s free delivery for a minimum order of 100 pieces in Metro
Manila. For more information, call Carina at 09175012235 or e-mail

Consumer Brian Seifried didn’t waste time and sent us these
earth-friendly suggestions on reducing plastic waste: “Food suppliers
force huge amounts of unnecessary packaging on consumers because of
their antiquated procedures. Grocery stores need to change some of
their procedures.

“ For fruits and vegetables: Sell in bulk wherever possible, weigh the
customer selection at the checkout counter — this allows customers to
make use of their baskets and reusable bags. This is the normal system
across North America and Europe.

“ For meats and fish: Wrap the customer order of meat or fish in wax
paper or 100-percent biodegradable plastic.

“Eliminate the sachet-type packaging. Eliminate all plastic
bags/wrappers that are not 100-percent biodegradable. Restaurants must
stop using sachets for everything, from sugar to ketchup. Simply put a
condiment basket on the table containing the various bottles.

“Please note that government regulation need not be complicated. The
problem can be solved overnight simply by applying a punitive tax on
all plastic bags or wraps that are not 100-percent biodegradable.
Anyone can already choose to buy 100-percent biodegradable trash bags
in the supermarket, at the same price as non-biodegradable, so cost
need not be an issue here.

“Or we can publicly shame greedy retailers who resist taking
environment-friendly action and, ultimately, impose a plastic tax
through the BOI. Problem solved!”

As that down-to-earth adage goes, “Waste not, want not!”


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