The Philippines' First All-Opinion Website

June 15, 2018


My simple contribution to ending the plastic war is to expose industry practices that use plastic, and maybe find solutions to reducing and refusing plastic.

I was so happy to be among people who were not plastic, no green washing, and no pretention—just pure commitment to not using the convenient industrial wrapper, container, or straw that we all grew up finding easier to use.

The author with Al Linsangan

My room had a water bottle made of glass. There was no plastic liner in a native wastebasket and the air conditioner is turned off unless you were about to sleep. The forum/meeting had no plastic water bottles. They served water in real glasses.

But did you know that the Department of Tourism (DOT) has a rule for accreditation of hotels and resorts requiring two bottles of water in every room? No wonder each hotel we go to, that is of 4 or 5 star rating has two water bottles (in plastic!) in every room, everyday! And in Coron, where our forum was held, that requirement totals TWO MILLION plastic bottles a year! Horrors! This is the disconnect we would like to fix.

One ingenious way is to provide reusable water bottles now in aluminum, stainless, glass, or and any material that may be used hundreds of times. The affordable ones, unfortunately, are made in PRC of cheaper material and last only a few times (10 times according to Dr AA Yaptinchay, who was also a speaker in the forum). There are more expensive ones like the brand Klean Kanteen, the preferred brand but would not be affordable as a “giveaway” by hotels.

Al Linsagan of Coron shows reusable water bottles

In Coron, as in many parts of the “Plastic Battle” (pun intended) campaign, these Plastic Battle bottles may be refilled at the town’s water stations for only P5.00, less than half of what it would cost you to buy yet another plastic bottle of purified water. That helps. “On boat rides”, Al Linsangan explained, “the boatmen keep 5-gallon containers with a tap so you can refill your bottles”. Imagine how much plastic we could save from going to landfills if we just used a reusable bottle. Each person ultimately uses a single-use plastic bottle at least twice a day as we are required by our doctors to drink one to 1.5 liters of water to be in good health. Do the math. We easily use over 700 of plastic water bottles a year, per person.

I even know some celebrities and prominent personalities who only use imported brands of spring or mineral water (Evian, Volvic) and that’s the same problem. These bottles doo not degrade and will be in the waters and oceans forever! Whether you use local, high PH, or imported, they all use single-use plastic. The only other use of these bottles I saw is in Dolores, Quezon where empty plastic bottles of different brands are used to fetch water from the religious site of Mount Banahaw. So, sari-sari stores sell one liter to 2 liter plastic bottles. That’s the second use.

It’s good to note that Senator Loren Legarda has filed a bill banning “single use plastic” as it really pollutes our waterways, stays in our oceans and threatens marine life as well. Besides water bottles, there are plastic bags, sachets, and many single-use wrappers that do not degrade and end up as fish food, because the fish cannot tell what’s real food until they ingest them and are unable to digest the foreign materials.

So my realization after last week’s forum and my short stay in Coron was: the rules of government in particular the DOT are no longer consistent with the tenets of Sustainable Tourism and of the SDG on Sustainable Consumption and Production, protecting the oceans, and simply saving the planet. How do we address the revision of the said DOT standards?

It’s time we took a look at what the officers check and what our planet is crying about—no more plastics.

In the interest of sanitary rules—clean water and clean food—we end up using plastics and endangering everyone’s health. Did you know that fish end up eating a lot of microplastics? I was watching a show on TV featuring this new restaurant where each diner is given plastic gloves to eat “kamayan style” but with plastic gloves. They have 50 stores. One can imagine how much plastic they throw away each day.

Everyone, if you want to eat with your hands, eat with your bare hands. The experience is not the same with plastic gloves. Even professional chefs use reusable gloves in the kitchen (if they use any gloves at all).

That’s my plastic report this week. More to come…



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