What's Green Got To Do With It?

While you will inevitably feel that third-worlder sort of awe when you first step inside a Whole Foods and see how “advanced” green and organic retailing is in the great US of A, you should also appreciate a few things that have fallen off the development treadmill but still exist in a place like the Philippines. You will also be happy to know that there are a few simple things that you can do right now to help the environment, without waiting for a retail giant to suck you in with their fancy recycled packaging.

Let me ask you all something: What the hell is an eco-bag?

Is it a new piece of non-biodegradable foldy thing that you bought so you can avoid accepting plastic bags at the checkout counter? I'm sorry to tell you that your “eco-bag” might be a glorified reusable plastic bag that is colored with toxic inks and may even contain lead. You have been duped by the addition of “eco” to buy something that will (after your dog chews it up) end up as another pesky plastic thing in the landfill. Sorry, but there is so much icing spread on top of the whole “environmentally-friendly soft fiber bag”, that it's hard not to mock it.

Switch over to baskets, which are grown by the sun, (sun grows palms or fiber plants; rain nourishes them), then harvested and crafted by human beings, and which gracefully decompose after their useful life. They may not last forever, but this is part of the kind of commerce cycle that you do want to support. Keep old pillowcases in your luggage or vehicle for impromptu grocery or antique shopping. If you do want the whole canvas bag thing, I'm sure if you look hard enough, you have enough free of them in your closet to last you a lifetime. If you don't, just stuff your purchase in your backpack or a large tote bag. Any bag can be an “eco-bag”. Just not those synthetic ones they've been selling at such steep prices.

Do you feel like it's going to be a hot day? Wear less clothes then. Or layer for “decency's sake” and then peel the clothes off when you leave the conference room. If Martians had giant super telescopes and started observing us with their notebooks and opinions, they would certainly wonder why we wear slacks and long-sleeved shirts, drive our temperature-controlled vessels to places five minutes away because we find that walking makes us feel too hot. We then arrive in a room and put the AC on full blast to make ourselves feel normal again. "Why don't they wear more shorts and sleep naked?” they would scribble down.

When you go through empty lots trying to clean them up to make clandestine gardens (you do, right?), plastic bathroom cleaning tools are some of the most frustrating articles you find decomposing into the soil. You don't want to touch them. You know they've been in contact with bodily fluids and other forms of gunk. While your grandmother prides herself with keeping all your old toothbrushes since the '90s to clean her ornate vases, those end up in landfills (or empty lots) too. So believe me when I say, the best way to save humanity from ever touching a cleaning tool that won't decompose, is to reduce purchases of these items.

(Speaking of environmentally friendly, here's a list of Natural Insecticides for Your Home.)

Good thing the Philippines (and the rest of Asia) still makes brushes, brooms, and scrubbers out of material like coconut and palm fiber. A good example is the escoba, a once-uniquitous and quite beautiful scrubbing apparatus that has been replaced by garishly colored plastic counterparts. Use these to clean your sinks, kitchen counter tops, sneakers, and even thick-skinned vegetables. Use the ones with handles as toilet or bucket cleaners. If you can afford it, you can make them disposable toilet cleaning brushes, while still maintaining a clean conscience.

Escobas are available in Ritual for Php35 each.

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Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

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