Eco-waste coalition encourages shoppers to adopt reusable bags for sustainable tourism

EcoWaste Shopping
EcoWaste Coalition group during the “International Plastic Bag Free Day” and promoting the bayong. Photo from official EcoWaste Coalition blogspot.

The EcoWaste Coalition is encouraging shoppers and sellers at the upcoming Phillippine Shopping Festival to adopt reusable and eco-friendly bags as a sustainable tourism practice.

The Department of Tourism’s (DOT) attention was called by the environmentaI group to promote the use of reusable bags for the month-long sale in malls in the Philippines set to be held across the country from March 1 to 31, 2020.

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The DOT recently launched the Philippine Shopping Festival as a nationwide campaign that offers deals and discounts from partner establishments including airlines, hotels, tour packages, food and dining, jewelry and fashion, furniture, beauty and wellness products, and various brands from participating malls in 31 tourist destinations across the archipelago.

The EcoWaste group asked Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to optimize the shopping campaign not only in tourism but also to persuade consumers and retailers to get rid of the habit of using wasteful single use plastic bags.

The group noted that Puyat had earlier stated that in order to develop the country’s tourism industry, there must be a balance between economic opportunities and social responsibilities, emphasizing that “we must ensure that any development in the tourism industry must not be undertaken at the expense of the environment, the tourists, and the host communities.”

The group’s Zero Waste Campaigner Jove Benosa said, “With the well-being of Mother Nature in mind, the department’s promotional campaign should give due emphasis to the environmental benefits of reusable bags that will encourage more shoppers, locals and foreigners, into proudly bringing their own bags whenever they shop”.

Benosa added that the use of bayong (a bag made by weaving dried leaves of local plants), other hand-woven bags made of native materials (such as palm, pandan, and water hyacinth), and DIYs (Do It Yourself) tote bags from old clothes, katsa, and fabric straps must be actively promoted.

Benosa also stated that DOT’s promotion of the use of bayong and other reusable bags will help LGUs (Local Government Units) as it would reduce the volume of plastic use and waste, noting that more than 500 LGUs have so far adopted ordinances prohibiting or regulating plastic bags to minimize their garbage problems.

EcoWaste Coalition also urged the DOT to make use of the countrywide sale to encourage and motivate restaurants, food courts, and other food and beverage vendors to shift from “disposables to reusables” as shopping malls are known to be popular places for dining.

The Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines is a public interest network of community, church, school, environmental and health groups united by the common goal to end wasting through the promotion of environmental justice and stewardship.

The EcoWaste Coalition group also previously partnered with Bangko Sentral employees to properly dispose their electronic wastes and also partnered with Miss Earth Philippines to have its candidates and winners actively promote and get involved in the preservation of the environment and the protection of Mother Earth.

The DOT has been promoting sustainable tourism, including DOT projects that promote sustainable tourism include the Farm tourism program that benefits farmers and fisherfolk and the Cebu city eco-sports tourism.

Other initiatives promoting eco-friendly practices include the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) pastoral letter encouraging eliminatiom of single use plastics and De La Salle University-Dasmariñas (DLSU-D) banning the use of polystyrene (styro) products since 2005 and disposable plastic bags since 2011 in the university premises.

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Gicel Livelo is an individualistic person whose passion is to inform, encourage, motivate, and comfort others through the art of writing and photography. She believes in the importance of loving oneself and others as well as hospitality for the betterment of humanity.