Earlier this month we spent some time in Bacolod City of Negros Island in the Philippines, where the first ever (yes, that’s right!) zero waste store on the island, has just set up shop!
It’s become quite evident during our stay in the Philippines that there is a huge attempt towards educating people about the tremendous affects our “waste” culture has had on the Earth, and also trying to guide them towards a life of conscious consumption.
In a country like the Philippines where more than a quarter of the country lives below the poverty line, it has become the norm for single-use sachets that are cheap and accesible, to rule the sari-sari (convenient store) industry.
While we are here, we want to visit as many zero waste stores that we can find to support the cause, meet the heroes behind the mission and be part of the grandiose effort being made to make goods available without sachets at the same affordable price points . And of course, preserving the Earths natural beauty at the same time!
In our search for such places, we stumbled across “Wala Usik” – which means “Waste Not” – in Bacolod City of Negros Island. We were lucky enough to meet them the week that they opened, got an intimate tour of their space and got to know the staff who are the driving force behind the project, and an extremely inspiring bunch indeed!
The establishment is run by the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation inc. and their goal is to be part of the movement to help shift a culture change from single-use products into a low impact lifestyle!
Not only did we have a day filled with learning, meeting new like-minded individuals and real advocates for environmental change, we also had the surprise and absolute pleasure of getting to know The Department Of Environment And Natural Resources who spent the afternoon at the store supporting it’s opening for Zero Waste Month!
Walking in from the street you can immediately see how they have implemented their beliefs into the look of their store. They used old planks of wood, unwanted materials and empty bottles that would otherwise go to landfill, and repurposed them to create a beautiful and colourful space where you can not only shop, but enjoy a coffee with locally baked goods too! They even encourage customers to throw their used coffee grinds into a compost box by the door, they are the real deal guys.
There are three sections to the shop; The cafe, the zero waste store and an independent boutique for incredible, local craft!
Though the space is not huge, it has been utilised in a manner that allows a great experience from start to finish.
The cafe sits in the heart of the store where they use zero waste methods to brew coffee, like the French drip (which can also be bought in store btw!) and they even offer local freshly baked goods, including vegan ones. – That’s a win in our books! –
The Zero Waste Store
The star of the show and the very reason why we ended up inside their doors (twice!).
The aim of Wala Usik was to make it affordable for those who were dependant on single-use products, to come in and buy only what was necessary and convenient. As we mentioned earlier in the post, the Philippines is a country addicted to single-use products due to their practicality when it comes to price and accessibility. Wala Usik want to lead the way and change this for both the vendor and the buyer and remove those pesky plastics from use in our society.
So how does it work?
Once you are inside, you will notice shelves stacked with:
- Reusable items ranging from straws (silicone, metal and bamboo), water bottles, coconut bowls, cloth menstrual pads, cloth diapers, soap and shampoo bars and more
- Dispensers filled with some of the most wanted and most used liquids in Filipino culture; shampoo, washing up liquid, soap, soy sauce, vinegar, and cooking oil
- Huge glass jars and barrels filled with other popular items such as sugar and rice
The steps are simple:
- Buy a container to fill from the shop or bring your own!
- Use their scale to weigh your container (you subtract the weight of it at the end and only pay for the contents inside)
- Fill your container
- Pay for your shopping!
The Local Artisans Boutique
The final piece of the puzzle is a wonderful display of solidarity and support for local, artisans, and craftsman and woman.
Wala Usik encourage local producers, artists, and jewellers to display their products, giving opportunities to these local entrepreneur to get their stuff out there.
There are some absolutely awe-inspiring pieces of up-cycled and repurposed materials that have been upgraded into gorgeous pieces of jewellery, key chains and other items for you to purchase.
One of our friends who was visiting us at the time came into the shop out of curiosity and left with a bag full of goodies!
If you are in the area and want to use their facilities or are simply curious to know more about them and educate yourself on what it takes to be more zero waste and start making a difference, then head over to their store and start shopping! Take your family, tell your friends, bring your own refillable containers, and never waste any packaging again!