Your shopping list of waste

You have to pay a few pesos or so nowadays to get a paper bag for your purchases in most stores around the country. The amount may seem negligible, but it’s a call to BYOB — bring your own bag — that is hoped to become part of everyone’s sustainable lifestyle.

In a world consumed by consumerism, this collective move by countless physical stores in the world is but a tiny drop in the bucket against the deluge of environmental concerns that are slowly killing the planet. It is one that helps not just minimize waste, but also create a mindset that rejects wastefulness.

Because while the traditional supermarkets, for instance, are seeing less volumes of shoppers with their baskets or eco bags, e-commerce is raking it in. The pandemic made it necessary for Filipinos to learn to shop online, and even do their groceries online — so, as market experts predict, this will continue and cause e-commerce to grow “exponentially.”

Think of all the clothes, shoes, electronics, toiletries, beauty products, home ware, food and beverage purchased online on a daily basis.

Think of how often you, your family and your officemates order food online. The utter convenience of food delivery and sheer variety out there have us spoilt for choice.

Indeed, reports say there is “an increase in the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages, home care products and personal care products. Products with multiple uses and trusted brands are favored, with a trend towards bulk buying.”

One order from those online shopping platforms usually arrives encased in plastic pouches, thick wads of bubble wrap tightly taped and sometimes even a brown outer box that gets all mangled up from your efforts to cut through the tape and get your hands on, let’s say, that skincare set you have long wanted to try.

The sturdy packaging seems far too wasteful compared to that handful of mini bottles you had ordered. And too many times, we simply toss these piles of plastic and paper into our garbage bins, forgetting about them as soon as they are out of sight.

Imagine the tons of waste we throw out on a daily basis, with consumption at all-time highs in the Philippine retail markets.

Reports say the Philippines generates at least 61,000 million metric tons of waste daily, 24 percent of which is plastic waste, according to Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga during the launch of Loopforward.

The campaign “LOOPFORWARD: Linking Opportunities and Partnerships Towards Circular Economy through EPR” aims for full compliance and effective implementation of the EPR Act of 2022 by industries and other entities through the attainment of time-bound waste recovery targets.

Consumption is only expected to rise in the coming years as Statista reports that while “total retail sales value in the Philippines reached 53.6 billion US dollars in 2021, a slight decrease from its value in 2017, (this) figure was, however, forecast to reach 68.71 billion US dollars in 2026.”

We cannot undo the damage, but we certainly can stem further degradation.

Filipinos can reduce waste from their grocery and shopping lists by adopting zero-waste practices and making eco-conscious choices. These are some ways I found from various sources:

Choose sustainable products

Opting for eco-friendly and sustainable products, such as those offered by businesses promoting zero-waste living, contributes to reducing environmental impact.

Support zero-waste companies

Choosing to shop at zero-waste stores that offer package-free products and encourage the use of reusable containers can help minimize waste generation.

Participate in recycling programs

Initiatives like exchanging plastic trash for free grocery essentials promote recycling and incentivize waste reduction.

Promote environmental education

Educating oneself and others about waste reduction, recycling and sustainable practices can create a culture of environmental stewardship and encourage more sustainable consumer behavior.

There must be a change of mindset and a change of lifestyle that adheres to or gives importance to sustainability.

Anything that’s convenient or easy to obtain (purchase) comes with a price. There should be a conscious effort from each one of us to do our share, no matter how small, to help protect our environment. Collectively, it would definitely make a big difference.

We can all play a vital role in reducing waste, promoting sustainability and contributing to a greener future for our communities and the planet.

Sustainable living is about mindfulness starting from the things we consume, shop, purchase or decide.

Remember that everything in our lives has to end up somewhere. Let’s think about that and act accordingly.

Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar is the Chief Reputation and Sustainability Officer of the Aboitiz Group and president of Aboitiz Foundation. With over three decades of senior management experience, she has led projects focusing on stakeholder engagement and sustainability, reshaping the group’s agenda. A passionate artist and avid traveler, Ginggay finds inspiration in drawing, painting, and exploring diverse cultures. Ginggay is a dedicated mother — not only to her two grownup daughters but also as a mom to her three huskies, Olaf, Louis, and Grizzly — who balances her dynamic career with personal joy and companionship. For any feedback and recommendations, please reach out directly to Ginggay at [email protected].