My Trader Joe’s grocery bag has become my multi-purpose bag. Not only is it my shopping bag, it serves as a handbag, a tote bag, a yoga bag to keep my change of clothes, etc.
When I came back to the Philippines in 2010 from Northern California, every time I’d go shopping, I would get incredulous looks from retail sales staff when I’d tell them not to place the items in their regular plastic shopping bags.
“You can place them here”, I’d say as I open my TJ tote. Some of them would still place the items in the plastic bags and then put the bagged items in my tote. 😦 I guess they think it’s only for the shopper’s convenience — a tote to stuff all the purchased items which are still placed in plastic bags. They haven’t quite gotten the concept of using fabric, paper or eco-friendly bags instead of plastic shopping bags.
I would then give them my mini-lecture on the philosophy behind my TJ tote. “Magbawas tayo ng basura. Ang dumi-dumi na ng Pilipinas at ng buong mundo. (Let’s minimize waste. The Philippines is already so filthy as with the rest of the world) “.
I’d get mixed reactions. Some would be happy and impressed with my efforts. Some would giggle to which I’d respond, “Anong nakakatawa dun? Walang nakakatawa sa sinasabi ko. Kayo pa nga ang dapat magturo sa mga mamimili niyo, na sa susunod, magdala sila ng sarili nilang shopping bag (What’s there to laugh about? There’s nothing funny with what I said. In fact, you should be the ones reminding your shoppers to bring their own shopping bags next time they go shopping).” Then I would either see a guilt look on their faces or a blank stare that says, “What the hell is she talking about?”
Still, I wouldn’t get discouraged. I’d go about with my mini-sermon as part of my shopping ritual.
But it could get really frustrating sometimes. At times, out of frustration and disappointment, when I wouldn’t be in my element, I’d be quick-tempered and assert myself in a not-so-pleasant way. Then I’m the one who would have that guilty look on my face. 😦
I haven’t gone shopping at Makati City for ages. (The City of Makati is where the central business district of Manila is located and is the financial center of the Philippines.) I took a quick trip yesterday, for something I needed that was available only at the Makati branch of a retail store.
Not only was I amazed at the huge changes in the infrastructure and shopping establishments. I was also so impressed and very pleased to find out that it was the first weekend that the city was implementing its ban on plastic bags, yes! 🙂 🙂 🙂
The City of Muntinlupa was actually the first city to prohibit commercial establishments from the use of plastic bags and styrofoam. The law took effect in January 2011.
After Muntinlupa, the Cities of Las Pinas, Makati, Pasay, Pasig and Quezon City have followed suit and have also already implemented this prohibition.
This initiative was largely an off-shoot of the tragic tropical storm “Ondoy” (Typhoon Ketsana) in September 2009. 80 percent of Metro Manila was flooded. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were left homeless. The culprit? The lure of excessive convenient, modern lifestyle (aka using plastic bags and styrofoam) coupled with improper infrastructure for waste management, or lack thereof.
Often, a tragedy is what it takes to jolt us and wake us up. It doesn’t have to be so but this has usually been the case.
There are 17 local government units comprising the entire Metro-Manila. Six have already a “no to plastic bags” law in place. What are the rest waiting for? Not another “Ondoy”, I hope.
There is a prevalent Filipino mentality that reforms don’t get done in this country, and if they do, it takes a very long time. And they come with a price. This is why the majority have this uncaring or me-first, me-only attitude.
While there is some truth to this, being the eternal optimist that I am, I do believe that there is hope. There is always hope. I’m happy and grateful that a number of the city administrative offices have taken the difficult but much-needed steps to initiate and effect changes.
Yet with or without an ordinance, with or without penalties for violating a regulation, we can all make conscious, empowered choices. We can all do our part in contributing to the improvement and betterment of our lives and the healing of our planet. We don’t have to be told what to do. We don’t have to wait for a law to be implemented.
When I give my mini-lectures and sermons to the sales clerks with regard to the use of eco-friendly shopping bags, I tell them that even if our generation does not fully enjoy the benefits of the changes that we are implementing towards an eco-friendly and sustainable living, at least we can pass on in peace knowing we are leaving behind a much healthier planet for our children, our children’s children and future generations.
Do you really think we can truly “rest in peace” when future generations would be cursing us for our irresponsibilities as they suffer the consequences of our irresponsible actions and choices?
Our efforts don’t have to be grandiose. Next time you take a shopping trip, remember to take along an eco-friendly shopping bag. One less plastic bag can surely go a long, long way.
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