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Rediscover sustainable practices ingrained in our local traditions

August 28, 2020

Young sustainability advocates shared traditional, home-based practices of thriftiness, consuming less, and reducing wastage, and encouraged younger generations of Filipinos to rediscover knowledge embedded in our own culture, during the 15th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Pathways” with the topic “Practical Sustainability.”

The online conversation hosted by House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda featured resource persons Ms. Carol Malasig, journalist and content writer of the blog ‘Almost Diplomatic’; Ms. Niña Opida and Mr. Josef Werker, co-founders of Humble Sustainability; Ms. Armi Millare, founder and creative director at Stoa Studios; and Ms. Aimee Oliveros, a Climate Reality Leader and owner of RE-Store MNL, a zero-waste store (Refill-Reuse-Recycle).

Aside from sharing trends in Europe of people buying products made of abaca and rattan fibers, such as chairs, bags, and many more, Ms. Malasig also highlighted the the simplicity of sustainable practices ingrained in Filipino culture.

“As Filipinos, we can add another face to sustainability — and that could be the Filipino mom. We don’t really have to look far para po makahanap tayo ng sustainable practices. Some of the Filipino practices are becoming a trend abroad like the use of bayong and recycling of fabric, and these products are being sold much more than the production price. We can look back at how we were even generations before and be proud of where we came from,” said Malasig.

Ms. Opida and Mr. Werker introduced Humble Sustainability, a value-driven marketplace that they founded which helps people declutter their homes and offices by collecting items they no longer need and giving these a new purpose. They shared tips on decluttering and circular living.

“The reason why we built Humble Sustainability is to make it hassle-free to everyone especially to those who don’t know where to start. So, we really want to emphasize that shifting to a sustainable lifestyle or a circular living lifestyle doesn’t need to be too drastic. Most important is the sense of community and belongingness, so we can help each other and lift each other up,” said Werker and Opida.

Ms. Millare spoke about Stoa, her essentialist lifestyle brand which creates slow-made and handmade products. She also shared tips on mindful consumption and the essentialist lifestyle.

“I guess the heart and soul of Stoa is a lot more about conscious sourcing. We really have to make sure, at least, that the products are organic because it’s difficult to certify a farm, especially if it’s a small farm. It’s really expensive and small farmers can’t afford that, but if you visit or do research, you’ll find that they’re doing sustainable farming practices and you’ll get to help out their community,” said Millare.

Ms. Oliveros’ RE-Store MNL, a humble zero-waste shop, sells affordable plastic-free, locally-sourced products, engages SMEs and sari-sari store owners to do the shift, and advocates for a comprehensive law against the production and use of single-use plastic.

“The concept of RE-Store MNL is to sell essential non-food products using refillable litro bottles and containers. It means that every customer has to bring her own container to purchase our products. We just refill it and that’s how we operate as a business because we want to ensure that we limit the number of plastics that are being consumed or produced,” said Oliveros.

Legarda noted that there is a need to recognize, rediscover, and continue the “old school” knowledge, attitude, and practice of sustainability in our own culture. This includes growing your own food, eating less meat, using natural shampoo and cleansers, re-using bottles, containers and newspapers, reducing food wastes (making meals using left-overs), using hand-me-downs, turning old shirts into cleaning rags, and using recycled cans as early warning devices.

“If each person will be mindful to do the things we do, it will create a ripple or tsunami effect. If the 108 million Filipinos, or even half, have our mindset, they would not be intimidated by the names of Republic Acts and the Sustainable Development Goals, but they will see [and appreciate] what we are doing,” Legarda concluded.

As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, Stories for a Better Normal aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.

This online discussion is organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines, and the Mother Earth Foundation. ###