Is Practicing Sustainability Possible During The Pandemic?

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We ask the owners of two local brands to share with us their insights on practicing sustainability during a pandemic.

Related: Switch Up These Essentials To A Cheaper And More Sustainable Alternative

In a time of disposable masks, gloves, and PPEs, is there room for sustainability during a global pandemic? The streets of Metro Manila may be emptier, but that doesn’t mean they’re cleaner. But, shouldn’t that be the least of our concerns? Right now, we’re facing a thousand cases per day, a dropped economy, and extreme mistrust in the government. Where does sustainability fit in all of that? According to the Asian Development Bank, “Hospitals in Metro Manila—the region that accounts for at least 55% of the nation’s cases—would generate 280 metric tons of medical waste in a single day.” This is all because of the single-use material that is being used daily in medical facilities. So, instead of adding to the problem, shouldn’t we help alleviate it?

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Well, we could, but what does that mean for our health? In a 2013 study published in Aerosol Science and Technology, surgical face masks can filter out about 60% of smaller, inhaled particles. As opposed to homemade single-layer reusable face masks, that only provide 1% particle filtration. Aside from the face mask, other medical wastes are required to be for single-use purposes only. If re-used, it would completely defeat the purpose of the material. That’s why we’ve consulted with the Camille Jimenez, owner of Penny Pairs, and Jannica Lim, owner of Zerro PH, on their take on sustainability during a pandemic.

Wastes of the pandemic
Not only did we start seeing the wastes caused by medical material, but we also saw the increase of bubblewrap and plastics being used for online shopping. Lim realized this early on and decided to make the a change when she started Zerro PH. “These biodegrade into microplastics which pollute our oceans and harm wildlife. Which is why we encourage more businesses to use compostable packaging. At Zerro PH, we use plant-based mailers and recycled corrugated boxes for our outer packaging, jute pouches as storage, handmade paper and eco-friendly ink for our note cards – all of which are compostable and can be used as fertilizers for our garden,” says Lim. Truly, sustainability isn’t only for a select few, but is something that can be done as a collective.

When a problem presents itself, many entrepreneurs find a way to solve this problem. Now, there are sustainable delivery services being offered by The Good Trade, EcoNest, Ecolutions, and many more. Although, sometimes facing single-use plastics and medical wastes are inevitable during the pandemic. You can’t exactly force the whole world to stop using disposable materials for your sake. That’s why Jimenez, owner of Penny Pairs, found the best solution for unwanted wastes. “We can check that these items are going to the correct recycling bins. Another suggestion would be to include these items in ‘eco bricks’ that combine plastic waste to produce bricks for construction,” shares the young entrepreneur.

Taking accountability
It’s not the time to live in ignorance. The first step in to a more sustainable lifestyle is through our choices. We need to start taking accountability for the brands we support. There are a few questions we need to ask before buying a new item: Do we need it? How was it made? Is this the best alternative?

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More than helping the environment, we’ll also be able to help ourselves. Choosing reusable everyday items would help us save more in the long run. “Essentially, we try our best to refuse most, if not all single-use plastics from our daily routine. Single-use plastics that are most evident in our routine are plastic cutlery and straw, especially when we order our favorite meals and snacks. Which is why, we never leave home without bringing our Zerro pocket cutlery and straw. Also, because it’s safer to bring our own when dining-in. Another item we found to be very handy would be a collapsible eco bag to carry groceries in. Everyday is a conscious effort and entails sacrifice, but the benefits outweigh the costs, definitely.” shares Lim.

Choosing those who care
Consumers should also be able to see whether the brands they’re buying from care about the quality of their products. The Philippines is essentially a price-centric country, but that doesn’t have to be the case. We can start simple by supporting brands that provide good investments in our every day pieces. The longer we have our items, the better it is for the environment.

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In a way, Penny Pairs promotes this type of behavior through their campaigns in social media. “The first step is to be aware of your way of living and try your best to reduce your consumption, reuse whatever you possibly can, and when possible – recycle whatever waste you produce! With Penny Pairs, we always try to make designs that are classics, and encourage our customers to wear them again and again. But also, it’s very important not to judge others or yourself, as being perfect at being ‘sustainable’ isn’t possible – just take things one day at a time. Trying to help, and being conscious, is already better than doing nothing,” says Jimenez.

Penny Pairs is a local jeweler that sells everyday pieces for the modern Filipina founded by 25 year old, Camille Jimenez. On the other hand, Zerro PH is a movement and zero waste store that promote sustainable practices founded by childhood friends, Kat and Jan. Get to know more about Penny Pairs by visiting their website or following them on Facebook and Instagram. You can also check out their latest sustainable collection by clicking on this link. Start living sustainably by paying a visit to Zerro PH’s Facebook and Instagram. You can also shop their eco-friendly products by checking out their store in Shopee.