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Palengkera: Kaplastikan

This is a follow-up to my Palengkera post on plastic bags. A lot -- but perhaps not yet enough -- has been said about Baguio's present political garbage problem. You can read several intelligent diatribes, view disgusting photos, and watch a heart-wrenching video and weep in the Eco-Warrior's Garden. Chi from the Cool Clouds provides a link to an enlightening slideshow on where plastic goes, what we can do about it, and which countries have already done something about it (in answer to Ikin's question). The comments are also well worth reading. And land-fill sized amounts of information can be found online for anyone willing to dredge through the millions of hits for "garbage" or "plastic". Meanwhile, the basura continues to pile up on Baguio's street corners, almost to catastrophic proportions.

Now the nice thing about catastrophes is that they bring out the best in people. (Point in case, the Baguio earthquake. All of a sudden everybody in Baguio was altruistic. Too bad it was too good to last.) So even as the scent of garbage wafts through our city streets, something good may yet be coming out of this crisis. My suki for meat coolly smiled when I refused to have the ground pork in a plastic bag put inside another plastic bag. She told me that some of her customers now bring their own tupperwares and other containers so that they don't bring any more plastic bags home. Ok so it's still plastic but at least it's designed to be reusable and is (we hope) food grade. I think this is brilliant! This means that because of the garbage pressure, (some) people are finding ways to reduce their own waste. The week after she told me that, I started doing the same. Sometimes I still forget to bring my own containers, but I'm working on forming the habit. My new suki for chicken (the one who sells chickens raised by her family and butchers them on the day she sells them rather than defrosted magnolia stock) makes it a point now to award me with free scrap meat for my dogs when I bring my containers, and rebukes me whenever I forget. (Yes, dog-training methods work for humans too and I'm living proof of this heehee, but I digress.) I love these manangs of mine. Another good change in the market is that some vendors have gone back to wrapping their produce in old newspapers instead of putting every little thing in its own goddamn plastic bag.

Aside from cutting down on our waste-production, reducing the use of plastic gives the vendors one other thing to be happy about: less expenditure. My suki for vegetables in the "tourist" section says they spend anywhere from 500-800 pesos a week on plastic bags. My suki for chicken spends 200 pesos a week. Both vendors said they would be happy to have that money in their pockets (or their school children's pockets) rather than see it go to garbage.

This woman has made a great experiment out of the premise that we can live without plastic, and according to this link I came across, Sta. Barbara, Iloilo was way ahead of us in proposing and conducting a dry-run on a municipal order regulating the use of plastic bags. (Hmmm, I wonder what has actually come out of it. The article was written November 2007.)

This crisis is as good a time as any for Baguio people to try and be less tolerant of kaplastican. -- something most people would really much rather live without anyway.


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