Monday Musings: A Duty To Protect Beauty

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Earth’s beauty is undeniable yet a lot of people are too distracted to see how we are slowly killing it. I never understood people who would rather be on their phones instead of taking a few minutes to see the sun graciously setting over the horizon. I guess with all the mobile stuff, the rest forget the simple things that surround us. It is either they see cash or likable over social media.
Everyday while I walk along the streets of the busy metropolis, I see people mistreating nature by throwing trash improperly or treating animals poorly. These are the same people you follow in social media. With each like you give, you are giving birth to a fake persona created for the sake of likability. They put up photos of the beach, forests and mountains to win people over but only a few dedicate time to give back. They show little gratitude to their homes. Are you one of those who appreciates our planet?
It is a known fact that humans are not the first organisms in the planet. We are young dwellers compared to sharks but we have done so much damage. I guess it happens when we are given a lot, you fail to appreciate but now time is running out. We have misused our mother Earth too much. If you are like me, then you must realise that we have a duty. Like a mother reminds her children and teaches them lessons, we should do the same to our fellow earth dwellers. Our resources are limited and if we do not protect it vigilantly, we are putting an end to our own existence.
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10 Filipino Green Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

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Christmas is coming fast! Most of you are probably scrambling for gifts to give. While it is convenient to buy those usual gifts like money, clothes or tech products, you should fall into the trap. I have rounded up options for a more sustainable gift- giving.

Here are 10 gift items that are proudly Filipino made and environment friendly.

1. All Natural Bath and Body Products by Aromacology Sensi

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Nature based, organic skin care products is 98% botanical based. The company uses state of the art manufacturing facilities, and with the approval of the Bureau of Food and Drugs, Aromacology Sensi’s products are carefully crafted from all naturally-based raw materials like herbs, flowers, and fruits extracts; a true perfect blend of nature and science. They offer a wide-array of skincare products which are designed to fit Asians’ sensitive skin.

2. Aquaponic Set-up by Cebu Aquaponics

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If your loved one loves to eat healthy then this would be a good gift. For a set-up of around P4,000, you can assure that he/she gets many greens fresh from their own backyard for the incoming year.

3. Potted Herbs by Cebu Herbs

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I am a big fan of basil but there are times when it is impossible to find fresh ones at the supermarket. This is a perfect choice for those friends who are into cooking. Although, there are many dried herbs available in supermarkets, fresh is always best. The company offers a wide variety of herbs from basil to lavender and they even sell lettuce and strawberries!

4. Jemel Kent’s Mushroom Kit

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Similar to the potted herbs, mushroom is a popular ingredient for many dishes. Also, if you have a vegetarian friend, these oyster mushrooms are good alternatives (think mushroom burgers). This kit is easy to grow, all you need is to cut-out the box and moisten the kit daily.

5. Unrooted Grape Canes from Gapuz Grape Farms

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Grapes in a tropical country? Yes! While most people do not think about this but grapes actually can grow in the Philippines. Take it from Gapuz Grape Farms, their family has been growing, harvesting & nurturing high-quality grapes now for 30 years! Their grapes have a California pedigree and locally grown with a pinoy twist of planting method.

6. Handmade Stuffed Toys by Conservation Sewmates

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Looking for adorable plushies to give to kids or to those who are young at heart?

“Conservation Sew Mates” was inspired by, and established with the aim to support wildlife conservation efforts. As a livelihood supplement project, Sew Mates workshops were organized to teach fishermen community to make and sell the toys to tourists.

Your purchase is helping the sustainable development of responsible ecotourism in the Philippines. All proceeds will be donated to support Physalus (a non-profit conservation group)’s whale shark research project in the Philippines.

7. Craft Kits by Craft2Go

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If you are running out of creativity on what to give an artistic person then Craft2Go craft kits is a sure hit. They offer unique, one-of-a-kind, creative craft kits for children and adults which are locally produced.

8. Bags by Siklo Pilipinas

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Backpacking around for more than a decade, avid back packer couple and artist-designer Lyndon Ecuacion and Clarice de Villa found alternative solutions in inner tube and tire rubber as a suitable material to protect gears in the adventure travel lifestyle. It is sustainable so long as humanity use wheels.

Since there is no known disintegration rates for tire rubber to decay, upcycling this material implies durability that can outlive our generation. It then evolved and blossomed into an advocacy geared towards socio-economic solutions while inspiring green initiative for our only planet and its entire inhabitant. Hence, Siklo Pilipinas was founded.

9. Bamboo Zen Speakers

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It is difficult to miss out on karaoke when in the Philippines. Without a doubt, music plays a big role in our country. You hear music everywhere, but who would have thought that a common grass like the bamboo can be used for getting the music out.

The ‘Zen Speaker’ is an innovative bamboo dock for your Smartphone; it also amplifies the music from your Smartphone. Make it more personal by costumizing the design with their favourite colour and name.

10. Bicycle by Bambike

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Cycling is getting more and more popular in the Philippines and why wouldn’t it be? It is a great cardio workout and is good for managing carbon footprints.

Bambike is a socio-ecological enterprise based in the Philippines that hand-makes bamboo bicycles with fair-trade labor and sustainable building practices. Their bamboo bike builders (aka Bambuilders) come from Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine based community development organization for the poor, working to bring an end to poverty. They have programs that include scholarships, sponsoring a preschool teacher, and a weekly feeding program for children, as well as a bamboo nursery for reforestation. Bambike is a company that is interested in helping out people and the planet, dedicated to social and environmental stewardship. Their goal is to do better business and to make the greenest bikes on the planet. Bambike Revolution Cycles: People-Planet-Progress.

No matter what budget and preference, there is always a more sustainable gift option for you. Be a more environmentally aware shopper and support Filipino products!

10 Ways To Start Eating Sustainably

Eat right! I’m sure you have heard of vegetarianism and how it helps the environment. But if you are not willing to give up your meat, should you just continue with your old ways? I say no!

Here are some ways that you can eat your way to a better society and ahealthier environment. The secret is Sustainable Food.

What is Sustainable Food?

Well according to Sustain: There is no legal definition of ‘sustainable food,’ although some aspects, such as the terms organic or Fairtrade, are clearly defined.

Their working definition for good food is that it should be produced, processed, distributed and disposed of in ways that:

  • Contribute to thriving local economies and sustainable livelihoods – both in the UK and, in the case of imported products, in producer countries;
  • Protect the diversity of both plants and animals and the welfare of farmed and wild species,
  • Avoid damaging or wasting natural resources or contributing to climate change;
  • Provide social benefits, such as good quality food, safe and healthy products, and educational opportunities.

1. Purchase local, seasonal, organic, foods.

Supporting local/regional food systems helps protect our health and the health of our communities, and helps stimulate local economies. Buying local and unprocessed or less processed foods is particularly critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmentally destructive practices and supporting local people in developing countries help in breaking cycles of exploitation and poverty.

In Cebu, you can easily head to SRP Farmer’s Market. There farmers do not deal with middle man and do not have to pay taxes thus they earn more.

If you want to know the price difference:

1 kg of Lettuce at Farmers Market = P40-60

1 kg of Lettuce at SM Supermarket = P120

2. 2.Buy food produced by environmentally friendly farms.

Sustainable agriculture can feed the world without damaging the environment or threatening human health.

3. Keep animal product consumption to a minimum.

The University of Queensland suggests at least one meat-free day per week.

4. Buy only seafoods that are caught or farmed in a sustainable manner. Deciding what seafood to order at the restaurant and what to purchase at the supermarket can shape the future of our global marine environment.

Who does not enjoy seafood? I am a fan of crustaceans and I enjoy fresh fish but the recent fishing practices have greatly affected the marine environment. From shark-finning to illegal fishing, our love for seafood is causing destruction to our oceans. So before you order, check if it is sustainable seafood.

Ocean or tuna? When you consider the pro’s and con’s , Ocean should be the primary option. It’s been 2 years since I gave up eating tuna. Why? Eight out of the nine local canneries in the Philippines scored poorly in terms of traceability, transparency, and sustainability. Just think of it a can of tuna that sells for P20-40 per can is costing the lives of sharks, sea turtles and other marine life because they end up as by catch. What about Century Tuna? Century Pacific Food, Inc. has joint ventures with Thai Union, the world’s largest canned tuna supplier with alleged human rights and environmental abuses along its supply chain. Sign the petition here to the world’s biggest tuna company.

5. Minimize food waste.

According to a recent report by UNEP and the World Resources Institute (WRI), about one-third of all food produced worldwide, worth around US$1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems. When this figure is converted to calories, this means that about 1 in 4 calories intended for consumption is never actually eaten. In a world full of hunger, volatile food prices , and social unrest, these statistics are more than just shocking: they are environmentally, morally and economically outrageous. So next time you are at a buffet, think realistically and do not let your emotions take over. Always remember what your mom tells you, finish your food and take food in moderation.

6. Not purchasing bottled water.

Buy reusable water bottles! Plastic water bottles are one of the top marine litters. Here in the Philippines, we have ATM’s or Automatic Tubig (Water) Machine that is a coin-operated water dispenser. I make it a point to always bring my water bottles and if I bought bottled water each day for a week that would already mean 7 bottles. Now add it up exponentially by the number of people in this planet!

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7. Eat in a way that promotes health and well-being (consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and avoiding artificial ingredients).

Philippine television will always have advertisements of sodas, fastfoods and other junk foods. It is no different from other countries and this constant brainwashing has made us crave for all these foods.

I rarely eat in fast food places, it is because I have seen several documentaries and I am not a fan of processed foods. As a nurse, I have always been conscious about what I eat.

If you find it hard to fully ditch some food items, here are some healthy swaps that you can do.

8. Know the cost of cheap food.

Cheap food can be misleading.

Here are some information that you do not know about cheap food:

  • Exploitation of cheap laborers who will work long hours in inhumane conditions because they are trapped in a endless cycle of poverty.
  • Mass farming depletes the soil of nutrients and promotes erosion, so farmers have to keep expanding as they burn out their existing fields (which leads to the further destruction of natural habitats)
  • The extinction of a great variety of seeds as food scientist hone in on one genetically modified “superseed” resistant to problems like drought and insects
  • The rise of monocultures where one, dominant crop is at risk of a single threat wiping it out completely
  • Air and water pollution from the by-products of massive food processing plants, commercial farms, and factory feedlots, which makes the air we breathe and the water we drink hazardous to our health
  • Carbon emissions from the use of fossil fuels to keep all of the food system machinery moving; which leads to global warming and unpredictable climate changes (which ironically has repercussions on farming and crop yield!)
  • The use of viruses to break down the molecular structure of food to manipulate the genes (GMOs), a scientific practice we don’t have the longevity or the research to know if it’s really safe
  • Overproduction caused by commercial farming means an overabundance of cheap food, which leads to either lots of wasted, unused food or just the opposite: lots of overconsumption and a myriad of health problems including diabetes and heart disease
  • Food becomes less about nourishing people and more about profiteering; and big corporations are likely to disregard health and societal concerns in the pursuit of more and more money (their deep pockets also allow them to have very powerful lobbyists and essentially to buy out our government)
  • With every dollar spent you are telling manufacturers that it’s okay to keep doing things in the same, unsustainable ways.

9. Grow your own food.

Can you imagine how much savings you will incur if you save all the seeds? I started saving seeds from tomatoes and I have now a seedling from two avocado seeds that I saved, it was not even hardwork.

Here are other kitchen staples that we can easily regrow.

10. Be willing to give up convenience.

According to CDC, the average American eats away from home four times a week, and studies have shown that can translate to putting on 8 extra pounds a year. The more you eat away from home, the more the pounds can add up. Making small changes when we’re eating out or on-the-go can make a big difference in our health – and our waistlines.

In addition to that, fast food is not as convenient as we think, sure it saves you all the hassle when on a rush but it incurs later with long-term health effects.

THE WRAP-UP

When you weight the pros and cons of sustainable eating, you will realize why it is logically sound to shift. These 10 steps are lifestyle changes that you can slowly adapt to. Little by little as you progress, the changes you make will help lessen the impact we have in our environment and society because of our lifestyle choices.

With any decision, always choose the sustainable option.

“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”
― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays