Companies Not Solely Responsible For Plastic Trash, Consumers Are Too

Companies Not Solely Responsible For Plastic Trash, Consumers Are Too

Many people want to blame brands for the plastics that end up into the ocean, as if a company such as Coca Cola tells you to throw the bottle in the ocean. They don’t. But those bottles still end up in the ocean.

anilao trash
Broken corals interspersed with plastic trash. Anilao, Philippines. Photo by John Virata

We as consumers have to find ways to minimize the plastic, paper, tin, e-waste etc. that we use everyday from leaking into the ocean. The solution can be as simple as buying less. Reduce and then refuse.

If you can do without soda, that’s one less consumer and one less plastic bottle that ends up in the ocean.

If you can do without SPAM, that’s one less tin can that ends up in the ocean.

See where you can cut down. Imagine if 8 billion people cut down on soda intake, do the math.

Reduce your use of online shopping. For example, according to Fast Company, about 165 million packages are shipped every year in the United States. That equals about 1 billion trees. That is a lot of cardboard that gets, for the most part thrown away, with much of it ending in the oceans.

In the Philippines, online shopping portal Lazada broke records for Singles day last November 11. It reported that a single shopper spent P1.2 million, and more than one million products were sold during the first hour of the online shopping sale. Imagine what the total was for the entire day. Filipinos spent 205 million minutes shopping on the website November 11. A sample of the breakdown, according to Interaksyon, is telling: More than 200,000 toys and games were sold, 13 million diapers, 240,000 pairs of sneakers and 10,000 pieces of luggage. That is not to mention 348 pre-ordered cars.

Where does all that packaging go? It has to go somewhere. Lazada and the maker of Pampers are not entirely responsible for the waste that is generated, the consumer is. The consumer is responsible for what is purchased. Companies though are beginning to take notice in how their products are packaged. Coca Cola announced that Coca Cola Sweden is the first to adopt 100 percent recycled plastic for its products. The company says the switch will prevent the use of 3,500 tons of virgin plastic each year and 25% fewer CO2 emissions.

Committed to Compost, an Earth Day Celebration

Committed to Compost, an Earth Day Celebration

Last week, Ayala Alabang Village Association honored Earth Day with several residents who made a Commitment to Compost. For those who aren’t familiar, composting is the process of turning food scraps and yard waste into organic material, filled with nutrients that makes soil happy and healthy.

Bokashi Master of the Philippines, Rina Papio came to AAVA and spoke about the Bokashi method of composting, a process that uses fermentation instead of decomposition.

Rina Papio, Bokashi Master of the Philippines discusses the composting method at Ayala Alabang Village Association.

“Bokashi composting is a great way for individuals to divert food waste away from our landfills. With the help of beneficial microorganisms, we can turn food waste into healthy soil and keep it from polluting the Earth,” says Papio.  Rina was also featured on CNN as the engineer cleaning up the Pasig river by introducing it to Bokashi Mudballs, good bacteria that works to eliminated bad bacteria.  

The inside of a newly started Bokashi bin. Photo by Pfctdayelise/Wikipedia


The seminar was well attended by a very active audience from a diverse demographic.  

Residents paid a nominal fee for their own Bokashi bins.


Things to remember:  

1. The Bokashi method uses fermentation and doesn’t give off a rancid and decaying smell. When your pile has a soft, pickle-like odor, very similar to atchara or kimchi, this is a good indicator your process is going nicely.

2. Prepare the food scraps and yard waste properly. Cut it up into small pieces (about an inch), place it on a strainer and make sure it’s been drained of liquids. When that’s done, store the food scraps in a sealed container, refrigerate and wait till you have enough to make a layer in the bin.

Add your food scraps to the bin and sprinkle just enough bran on top of it like how you would dust tiramisu with cocoa powder. Mix and cover.  

Some people use an old plate or the cover of an old pot to press their pile flat. This keeps the pile free from exposure to the air inside the bin. Don’t forget to cover the bin with the lid and keep it in a dark, cool place.

3. Once the bin is full, keep it sealed for two weeks. Every now and then, you should turn the spout on your Bokashi bin to drain the leachate or what we call ‘compost tea’.  You can add this liquid to tap water and use it for your plants. You can also pour this down your drain or flush it down the toilet. The ‘compost tea’ is filled with good bacteria that eliminates slime and gunk in your pipes.

This compost tea should be used within the day.

4. After the two weeks are done, you have your ‘pre-compost.’ This pre-compost should not go near plant roots. Due to its high acidity level, this can be harmful. Add it to your compost pile or bury it in a soil pocket that’s marked clearly or fenced off. Your healthy soil will be ready in four weeks.  

What you can put in your Bokashi bin:

1. Cooked food
2. Raw Food
3. Fur/Hair
4. Small Bones (chopped up)
5. Meat
6. Dairy
7. Vegetable and fruit scraps

Remember to cut them up in small pieces.

What not to put:

1. Liquids
2. Oil

It’s okay:

1. White mold means the bacteria is thriving
2. Sweet and sour smell

Signs of trouble:

1. Foul stench
2. Dark green or dark blue fuzzy growth

If your pile has a bad odor with blue or green fuzzy growth on it, something went wrong. You can bury the failed pile into soil and start over.  Make sure to scrub your Bokashi bin clean before doing so.

If the mold is not too much, you can try rescuing your pile by adding more bran.  

Remember the Benefits:

According to the Project Drawdown/CNN quiz for climate change, composting would be similar to taking 16 million cars off the road.  “Throwing away less of what we eat is an even more impactful way to reduce carbon emissions. A third of all food that we raise or grow never makes it onto our plates, and that waste accounts for around 8 percent of global emissions, according to Drawdown’s analysis.”

CoOp Signs MOA With Okada re: Cancelled Balloon Drop

CoOp Signs MOA With Okada re: Cancelled Balloon Drop

CoOperators Update for March 2019. We have had a very busy, but fruitful March. Here are some updates.

  1. Okada
    We signed the MOA to accept the 130,000 balloons from the cancelled New Year’s Eve balloon drop. The delivery will be after Easter. The balloons will go to Bulacan, where they will be ‘studied’ for upcycling into ecolego bricks/pavers.
  2. Nestle’
    CoOp rounded up two talks with Nestle on ‘Think Before You Throw.” Meetings regarding biodegradable packaging will follow
  3. Interns
    I accepted five interns (forced and voluntary) this month. The parents and I will have a dinner next Tuesday. Suggested activities: WACS training, Think Before You Throw training, visit upcycling facility
    check the upcycled products, learn bokashi composting,
    prepare to pitch – social media or digital media pitches/stories
Plastics to be upcycled.
We are now collecting over 20 kgs of plastics in AAV every month.
Plastics to be upcycled.
We collected more than 600 kgs of plastics in BASECO so far.

4.Welcome our latest volunteer John Virata who has been helping out with the website and Facebook page.

5. I NEED A VA. I missed an important DENR event because I overlapped with a ladies meeting and forgot about it. We need a logistics provider. Picking up the plastics and paying for logistics is not sustainable. We need graphics with a sense of humor…bordering smartass.

6. We have a green hub at VERAWOOD Suites that started two weeks ago. They’ve reported most of the plastics they get are PP, HDPE and PET. Type 5, 2 and 1.

7. We collected more than 600 kgs of plastics in BASECO so far.

8. We are now collecting over 20 kgs of plastics in AAV every month.

9. MAD MONKEY HOSTELS – chose CoOp to be their CSR. They are ordering a total of Php500,000 worth of school chairs made WITH rescued plastics. They’ll start with Php250,000 with the initial order and build toward Php500,000 worth by December.

10. Keep your fingers crossed for Coca Cola 😊, Southvale, Tuloy Foundation, Westgrove, Oracle Netsuite and the other DMCI communities.

11. THOUGHTFUL PLANET ACTIVITIES:

  • World Wildlife ‘WEEKEND’ was very successful we got about 700 postcards signed that day
  • Manila Coffee Festival has a lot of inquiries which led to an agreement between Holly’s and Carmen’s Best.
  • Yogi Fair – it was ok, could have done better.
  • NESTLE’ – soft infiltration with a THOUGHTFUL PLANET MINI by their cafeteria. As always THOUGHTFUL PLANET will have environmental-friendly vendors. (no plastic packaging, upcycled products and locally made)

12. Bokashi Composting workshop with our partners GREENSPACE. Rina Papio, Filipina Bokashi Master is teaching in AAV, April 25 at 2pm.
13. Realizing it’s hard to fundraise with products without generating waste. I was thinking of a t-shirt like ‘I would KRILL for this’ and the CoOp whale on it. But again, a whale inspired shirt isn’t all that necessary in everyones wardrobe unless you’re a CoOp volunteer and we can identify each other from afar.
14. BTW, have you guys checked out www.cleanouroceansproject.com? It’s like…awesome.

Are We The Plastic Problem?

Are We The Plastic Problem?

Plastic was introduced as a material to save elephants from extinction. It became an alternative to ivory which was used to make billiard balls, mahjong pieces and piano keys. Due to their flexibility, durability, weight, waterproof qualities, and cheap cost in manufacturing, technology found a way to use plastic in a multitude of products that made life easier for humans.  We are now paying that environmental price as 8 Million tons of plastic is dumped into the Ocean every year.

In the Philippines, 74% of the plastics in the ocean come from irresponsibly handled garbage.

How do we start?

Take a look at your bathroom and check how many products you have packaged in plastic. The gadgets we find ourselves attached to like computers, tablets or cellphones are primarily made out of plastic. When you become more conscious about your lifestyle and what you buy, it will determine where you start lessening your plastic consumption.

Is there really such a thing as biodegradable plastic?

Biodegradable is a term used for the plastic bag that disintegrates. Sadly, out of sight does not necessarily mean that it’s not there. Biodegradable plastics use plastic powder for structure and corn starch as a binder. When the corn starch disintegrates, the plastic powder may land and contaminate the soil, it ends up in the air or in the ocean that creates 2/3rds of the air we breathe.  A recent study mentioned that there is an average of 70 pices of plastic micro-beads found in a single mussel. The UN Environment Program says biodegradable plastics are not the answer to reducing marine litter.

How do we lessen our plastic use then?

This becomes a lifestyle that requires you to be conscious about plastics. Always bring a reusable straw with you. Take a refillable drink container when you go to your favorite coffee shop or ask for your drink to be served in a mug.  

When shopping, bring a reusable shopping bag and refuse plastic packaging. If you’re forced to use plastics while out, bring them home, wash it and have it picked up for recycling.  Always make an effort to segregate and recycle.

Ask to have meat, chicken or fish wrapped in paper or better yet bring your own container.  Most shops are happy to fill them. Some vendors give discounts or freebies when you have your own container. I’ve heard that fruit and vegetable taste better when they haven’t been wrapped in plastic.

Things we take for granted like the mechanism used to flush our toilet, medical equipment such as IVs and needles, are mostly made out of plastic. Out of the 56 liter containers of plastic that CoOp collects in Ayala Alabang, only 2 percent of it can be considered garbage. Most of it were paper labels that weren’t scraped off the bottles, a couple of metal caps, and the lining underneath the bottle caps.  Plastic is not an enemy. It is our lack of management.