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September 5, 2019

CELEBRATING 11 YEARS OF SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE

When Styrofoam and plastic were still part of everyone’s lifestyle, we chose to open a “sustainable lifestyle” store to provide greener alternatives, to help communities access the specialty markets and to work with like-minded organizations who had livelihood projects but had no space to bring their products to. That started our journey into sustainability.

Eleven years after, here are some of the effects of green businesses like ours on our everyday lifestyle:

  1. Eco bags. Every responsible and compliant business like supermarkets, hardware stores, and even cafes no longer use plastic bags. Everyone but everyone now has to think of reusable bags. Be it a net bag, or a katcha bag or even the ubiquitous (made in china) microfiber bag, the idea is to use REUSABLE bags, not one-time plastic bags.
  2. No more styro. Fast food outlets, even food delivery are now either in reusable plastic containers or eco-friendly paper/cardboard boxes.
  3. No more plastic straws. Many cities have now banned use of single-use plastic straws. There now are stainless steel straws which are washable as well as bamboo straws from nature.
  4. Glass bottles. I just came from Marriott Hotel Manila and at the Philippine Sustainability Month launch they also announced getting rid of 729,000 plastic bottles per year in their hotel rooms. They have switched to glass bottles which are REUSABLE.
  5. Organic consciousness. Although people still know it is priced at a premium, due to lack of scale, supermarkets now all offer organic choices –vegetables, fruits, salads.
  6. No meat choices. There are now more non-meat choices like vegetarian burgers, non-meat protein substitutes, non-meat “lechon”, “Crispy pata”, and more products that offer alternatives for people switching to eating less meat for ethical and environmental reasons. Beef is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases and avoiding meat has become a responsible act, more than a diet, or a religious choice.

I was at a dinner where friends were talking about the new vegetarian burgers. “They put sugar as binders and I have to avoid sugar,” one says. Well, I thought to myself, when one is not ready to make the ethical and environmental choice, they cannot be forced to switch…just yet. Maybe in the near future, they too will change, when they realize that “a moment on your lips will be forever in your conscience” as some meat-eaters are still not convinced to turn green some days of the week. Just giving up meat for a day in a week already helps. So, a single act in a week can mean a lot.

At ECHOcafe, we made the choices easy—we have been offering mushroom, banana heart and tofu patties since we started. We also offer meat choices along with vegan and vegetarian options. It is your call. You declare your “no meat” day and we will serve what you need on what day.

Yes, it’s been a good ten years past and on to our next ten. I wonder what changes we will see this decade. Maybe millennials and Gen Z’s will teach us new things and may move the needle towards a better world simply by asking us for more eco-friendly offerings. We have been contemplating bulk refill stations and our Davao store is already experimenting with it. Sustainable lifestyle will take on new meaning as the younger generation are already (as they say) “woke” and will demand more from the baby boomers and the Gen X groups (their parents and grandparents).

ECHOstore. Sustainable Lifestyle. We knew we were ahead of our time and detractors and non-believers said we would not make it past a year of operations. Well, we are still here.

Today, SUSTAINABLE is on everyone’s lips.

Tomorrow we continue our next decade into a more sustainable lifestyle. Thank you to all those who believe in us and who have supported us all these years.

Happy anniversary, ECHOstore!

 

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