The Problem with TrashTag: Why I Stopped Supporting Clean-up Drives

Do you love joining clean-up drives? Did you join the #trashtag? Here are three ways you can do more to make our planet cleaner.

I recently got attacked by some trolls over Instagram for commenting over a social media influencer’s post. Just because pointed I out how ironic that they sought for plastic-free province yet they used plastic bags to collect the trash but anyhow, this has inspired to come up with this post. Recently, there is a growing trend of clean-ups #trashtag and everyone who is seeking for attention or praise are doing this.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the immediate benefits of picking up the trash, however, at the moment it is just being used by several social media influencers as a publicity stunt to become more popular and gain more likes, not to mention by companies to portray that they care about the environment.There are cons with this movement and you may not agree but I just feel the need to put it out here.

  • Temporary and Unsustainable – Even if we take a good portion of the Philippine population to constantly clean-up, it will not solve the core of the problem which are lack of self-discipline and lack of corporate responsibility. Also, most people do not do it regularly enough to make the effects evident. How many times have people done clean-ups in different places and yet minutes after trash is back again. I know because I have taken part in several Shore it Up drives.

  • It Does Not Empower the Local Community – If locals get used to some other people cleaning up for them, they will never feel the responsibility over the mess they are making. I always see how a lot of Filipinos have this sense of entitlement when they are in fastfood or restaurant chains, you barely see anyone responsibly throwing their trash. Same goes for all those fun runs, like some Earth run organised before where hundreds of water cups were just left out on the road. Currently, DENR has organised several River and beach clean-ups but I am not sure of the percentage of participants that live in the venue. Those countless areas where dwellers just continue to trash their surroundings will just grow accustomed to the idea that there will always be someone else cleaning up after them.

  • No Accountability Post Clean-up – I have seen several clean-ups and photos taken after the event but no one really shows where the trash collected goes. In one vlog, several social media influencers took several bags of trash and they got praised for what they did, however, it surfaced couple of days after that they just left the trash in the same area so did it really change things?

You might think, if you know better, what do you propose we do instead of just picking up the litter? Great if you think like this! Here are better ways to help the growing plastic problem:

  • Put a price on plastic. – Companies should be charged more for the use of plastic given the numerous bad effects it has over our environment and health and we consumers should push for legislations for this. We should also make use of plastic bags in grocery stores more expensive instead of charging people to buy an eco bag.

  • Force companies to create sustainable and eco-friendly packaging. – Recent news showed that there is a growing pressure from consumers nationwide for better packaging. Couple of months ago, Loop announced it will be working with several known companies for reusable packaging.

  • Shift to a zero-waste lifestyle.- In the end, it all starts with us, the consumers. If we produce less waste then there would be less trash in our planet. You opting for an alternative packaging or plastic-free products already has more impact over a one day clean-up. It is not easy but it is far from impossible. There are a lot of resources and tips online for you to shift to this lifestyle. Besides, our predecessors already lived like this before. Our grandparents used banana leaves and reused mason jars, why not go back to how it used to be.

I am not stopping you from joining the next clean-up drive, if it makes you feel good and you feel it is making a real difference. I just want to remind people that the problem will not be solved completely if we do not zoom out to look at the bigger problem and put our focus on the root cause of the issue. It is like covering a hole in a damaged boat with barehands, sure it delays the sinking but it does not really stop it.

Next time you buy something, think about how you are contributing to the trash problem. Choose to consume without waste.

Advertisements

10 Filipino Green Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

gifts_xmas

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

aromacology

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

10256970_662644973805770_2415068895656491805_o

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

12360156_878507895596290_6805546744605842930_n

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

12301483_890400367741480_319153782160765179_n

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

12074547_974719625922222_8936099210946276655_n.jpg

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

12316591_864431227010230_5959071028023507378_n

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

12345581_698734096930219_3560060117334319632_n.jpg

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

9269199670_bfdd03bdb6_o

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

zen

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

05494e4a2a3ee0ca-img_1905

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!