Ready to say NO to single-use plastics?

It’s the big news on the Philippines’ race towards proper waste management – President Duterte is eyeing to ban the use of single-use plastics in the entire country. This is yet the most ambitious initiative the Philippines will embark on towards environmental sustainability. While awaiting the two bills that will end single-use plastics at the senate, the President calls for a full implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

As the 3rd largest producer of plastic wastes that pollute the ocean, can we really say NO to single use plastic?

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) reported that the Philippines consumes 163 million sachets a day. GAIA computes that it should total to about 60 billion sachets a year, compiled would cover 130,000 soccer fields.

Apart from sachets, GAIA also reports that we Filipinos use about 48 million plastic shopping bags daily at 17.5 billion pieces a year, while we use about 45.2 million plastic labo bags a day at 16.5 billion a year.

These numbers are truly staggering. But before we jump the gun, let’s try to understand what caused us to arrive at this. Here are some things that may have significantly contributed to where we are today.

1. Gap in infrastructure – As the cities become more dense, the provision for proper infrastructure such as housing and efficient waste management facilities are unable cope with rapid urbanization.

2. Economic Challenges – Dubbed as a sachet economy, the economic challenges in the Philippines remain to be a significant contributor.

3. Habits and Mindsets – It is ironic for a people who is very conscious of personal cleanliness to have become top polluters of the world. One of our respected anthropologists noted that we may have a very small parameters of accountability spaces – confined to our home or our Barangay, and everything outside those parameters are not our responsibility. This may have contributed to the lack of social and environmental consciousness of how our own little habits affect the whole.

4. Lack of Incentives and Penalties – To promote a specific national habit, government may find ways to not only penalize wrong doing but actually incentivize good behavior.

While the government is looking into serious reforms, WE HAVE THE POWER TO START WITH OURSELVES. Perhaps, total ban may be ideal, but RESPONSIBLE USE may be the start.


1. Get serious on using reusable bags!

Big supermarkets and shopping malls are already helping all of us take the first step. Among all the retailers in the Philippines, SM has been promoting the use of reusable bags for the past 10 years now. They have also made it very fashionable for buyers. You can also grab from Rustan’s, S&R, Robinson’s and many more.

2. Bring our own thermos or water bottles.

There are so many fashionable and affordable thermos and water bottles in the market now. It is not only eco-friendly but budget friendly too.

3. Let’s be mindful of trash labels, think before we throw.

As much as we truly all want to do our share, let’s admit it, we sometimes dismiss trash labels and throw our trash randomly. Let’s also understand the jargon – biodegradable, non-biodegrade, compostable, recyclable and other labels.

4. Let’s join clean-up drives.

There are many clean-up drives all over the country. Let’s get up and volunteer!

5. Unleash the Influencer in you! Raise awareness!

Let’s take our love affair with social media to greater purpose! Be an influencer! Raise awareness! Create campaigns! Ignite positive change!

We still have a very long way to go! But what is important is for each of us to commit to take small steps. It is easy to feel that doing our little share is merely a drop in the bucket. But as the old fable goes, it was the tortoise and not the hare that reached the finish line.


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