August 26, 2017
“I use a woven bag everyday,” says Petty a friend from schooldays at PWU who I recently saw at ArteFino. “I know a woven bag must have been made by a woman somewhere faraway,” she continues. And that’s her commitment to conscious consumption or consumerism. Her sister, Lyca, who I saw at the same event was in a white Barong with a simple artwork on the front. “Hey, I like your Barong,” I tell her.
“This is my uniform,” she proudly says. “I buy from Iloilo, Davao, or wherever I may chance upon a nice cotton Barong in white,” she continues. And yes, it becomes her—a nice crisp cotton linen Barong worn over jeans.
These two sisters are examples of how today’s baby boomers and millennials are making that decision: to buy consciously and not just buy anything which may clutter your closet soon. Their eldest sister, who sat with me for a while at Ann Pamintuan’s stand had a slightly different idea: “When I buy one thing, I remove 10 other things from my closet,” she says. That is also conscious consumption: not adding to clutter in our cabinets, but buying something we will use and getting rid of the “fat” or excess from our lives.
I have known these sisters since high school days and on to college at UP Diliman and I wonder why we have similar advocacies, causes, or reactions and proactivity towards RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION. Was it UP that made us like this? Was it PWU? Was it even JASMS? (they went to JASMS Highway in QC while I went to JASMS Taft Avenue).
And meeting them again decades later (with a few chance meetings in between), I start to wonder where this whole ethos is coming from. These sisters also married foreigners who they met during their education or work stints abroad. They lived abroad most of their lives and have now come back to give back, work for their family business, or simply retire gracefully in the Philippines.
I like the way they make responsible consumption a part of their lives. Like healthy eating, it is a conscious commitment to a cause, even if it is for your own health or the health of the planet. After all, how can we help the planet if we cannot even help ourselves? So I got inspired to share my experience of talking to people who really make responsible consumption a part of their lives.
As the Christmas season approaches, this is what we need to do. Shop well—and shop consciously. Let’s not buy all the cheap gadgets and tokens just to be able to hand something to someone. Let’s be more mindful of what we buy and be more mindful of the things we can also dispose of. I saw a Facebook post of relief goods for Marawi that are designer brands. Yes, we can part with those as well (though they may not be able to use a thick coat or fashion boots).
I was inspired just listening to their own personal goals and advocacies. I started to think of how to share their stories. I also try to buy local and now ASEAN, also. We want to show how ASEAN can connect all of us. Like, when I wear a Barong Batik, I tell people that it’s a collaboration of Indonesia’s Batik method (wood block or Batik Tulis) and our very own Jusi (banana fiber). I have become one of their ambassadors wearing this fusion outfit to events as far as India, and even on a videoclip I made for Lithuania.
We also use everyday things like business card cases made from woven material done by Bagobo tribes, or cosmetic pouches made by a Cambodian tribe, or a Burmese community. What we use tells a story. What we do not use also says much about us.
From food to lifestyle products, our choice tells a lot about who we are and what we stand for. That is responsible and conscious consumption (or if you want to use the word consumerism).
Look at the mirror. Are you using fast fashion that will not even degrade over time (like eons of years) but made you look good for a few months? We are all guilty of buying the cheap good stuff because it’s just so affordable. Maybe we can balance by buying some of the natural stuff like a Barong in cotton, rather than nano tech polyester all the time.
Look at your briefcase, bag, or purse. What do you use everyday? Check your cosmetic cases, phone charger cases, gadget cases. Everybody has a powerbank that needs a case. Choose natural over plastic. Choose a woven something to store your stuff.
It’s the little things that count. If everyone bought a woven cosmetic case rather than yet another plastic one from a generic store, maybe a woman somewhere would have a better meal. Even men weavers can provide for their families.
Think of the Benitez sisters and what each one shared with me. Mind you, I did not call them for a poll nor did I talk to them as a group. I just happened to pick up their stories while thinking also of how mindful I can be and how I can be a responsible consumer.
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