Obsoleting the Culture of Plastic

THERE are trends set by the millennials and Gen Z that I find shallow like posting everything online and getting offended easily. On the other hand, there are trends or movements done that I admire and support such as going green (minimizing use of plastics), getting healthy (choosing organic vs junk foods) and other adopting-the-natural-type-of-everything trend.

There are alarming news about plastic utilization and disposal in the Philippines. In a 2018 article by the Philippine Star, the country is the 3rd largest contributor to ocean plastic. Moreover, since Filipinos have a tendency to buy in “tingi”or retail, Filipinos throw 163 million sachets and 93 Million plastic bags Each daily based on a 2019 Esquire article.

There have been initiatives by local government units (LGUs) such as Makati and Quezon City to ban the use of plastics (from plastic bags to plastic straws and utensils). However, continuous awareness with plastic users still need improvement.

  • Scenario 1: When we go to a small fruits and vegetables market in UP or in Sct Ybardolaza in QC, my wife and I would tell the vendor not to place the fruits/vegetables in a plastic. Usually they will out each type of fruit/vegetable in one plastic and put all of them in 1 big plastic. We tell them just to put it in an eco-bag and most of the time they get annoyed with what we want to do.
  • Scenario 2: I  almost see this everyday. In convenience stores like Mini Stop or 7-Eleven, there are several people who will buy 1 bottle of C2 or 1 pack of cigarettes yet they will still ask for paper bag or plastic. The moment that they open the C2 in the bus or car, they will just dispose the paper bag/plastic right away.
  • Scenario 3: In Makati City where I work, some establishments are strictly following the No plastic ordinance. Most of the time, in Jollibee in Makati Cinema Square (MCS) and Shell Magallanes branch or Goldilocks Pasong Tamo, service crews will be scolded by customers for not giving plastic utensils or straw even if reminders are explicitly posted in the store.

These are some of the scenarios I encounter every day and I think the important part is awareness on the need and support for minimizing plastic use. One of my observations is that many Filipinos think that getting plastic as a package or storage is part of the service like when  you’re shopping for example. I see customers who buy in the market who demand double or triple plastic for their meat and vegetables. On the perspective of the vendors, they think that it’s the norm and having customers who don’t want plastic is not normal.

We always bring ecobags whenever we go out because we assume that we will be needing it at some point during the trip whether we will buy groceries, shop or take-out food. I also bring my metal water bottle so that I will not buy bottled water anymore.

I think we just have to put more awareness programs and initiatives to encourage people to go green.

A couple of years ago, the environmentalists promote – reduce, reuse, recycle. But now there are 2 more ‘R’s – refuse and repurpose. I think ‘refuse’ is one important action that we all have to do.

Further Reading:

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