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Plastic reduction: Saving the world one straw at a time

The breakthrough of the modern plastic era came about in 1907, with the invention of Bakelite by the Belgian-born American Leo Baekeland, as reported in BBC, but the looming problem of what was thought to be the greatest invention more than a hundred years ago has went on up to date.

Standees of the No Plastic in Nature Initiative and the #AyokongPlastik movement displayed at the press conference held at SM Lanang Premier on Friday.

We use plastic almost everywhere that it has become a norm; we consume plastic at our households, at the grocery store, at our favorite coffee shop,  at the shopping mall, at school, and wherever else.

Little do we know, the plastic that we consume is already consuming us. Studies show that plastic pollution, through micro plastics, is now within the water that we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat.

Our country, the Philippines is the third biggest plastic polluter of the oceans in the world and among the top five countries that contribute to about 60% of the plastic waste leakage in the ocean.

In Davao region, the effects of plastic pollution in the water bodies is not subtle as well.

Last week,  news about a dead cuvier beaked whale with an astounding 80 pounds of plastic in its stomach, found in Brgy. Cadunan, Mabini, Compostela Valley, hit the headlines across the world. .

“In his (Darrell Blatchley) Facebook post, he revealed that the cause of death is the ‘16 rice sacks, 4 banana plantation style bags and multiple shopping bags’. He added that ‘this whale had the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale,’” a news published in this paper on March 19 by Regina Mae Ronquillo said.

Representatives of the WWF and the SM Lanang Premier signify its commitment in the No Plastic in Nature Initiative through reducing and eventually eradicating straws in the mall’s Food Hall.

This is not the first time though.

Last year, August 2018, a whale shark was washed ashore in Tagum City, Davao del Norte. Plastic cup, food wrappers, and other pieces of plastic were in the stomach of the 14-foot young marine creature.

More plastic than fish

In a study of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), by 2050, if plastic problems will not be resolved, there will be more plastics in the oceans than fishes.

The call to protect the environment has begun decades ago and this campaign has been louder than ever now with the aid of social media.

The call to save our oceans is essential but this should not stop here.

Davao City is fortundate that the WWF has chosen it to be the pilot area of the No Plastics in Nature Initiative where the goal is to reduce the flow of plastic by entering the oceans by 80 to 100% by December 2021.

This means that the dream of becoming a sustainable green city is now more possible because we have the help.

An ecobag as a souvenir and a campaign material of the #AyokongPlastik movement.

“We want to facilitate partnership among the government, the businesses, the general public, to really work together because this is not just a problem of the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) alone, the government alone, or the people alone but this is a problem of everyone and should be addressed by everyone,” Czarina Constantino, WWF Philippines National Coordinator for Plastics said.

To achieve this, the WWF calls for the cooperation and coordination of business, government, and consumers in working together towards plastic reduction.

Ban single use plastics

In the business aspect, SM Lanang Premier has taken the lead in the No Plastic in Nature Initiative.

Their commitment is to address single-use plastics in their business supply chain by reducing and eventually eliminating plastic straws in its Food Hall.

Other than that, the SM Lanang Premier will encourage shoppers to use eco bags in all of its affiliate stores, continue its collaboration with a local recycler where the mall’s soft plastic waste are collected for the recycler to use in creating school chairs.

It also continues its efforts in the Trash to Cash activity, and create learning spaces in the mall that invites students to learn about the environment through films in the annual Green Film Festival.

The WWF also amplifies its No Plastics in Nature Initiative through the #AyokongPlastik movement by engaging in online conservations at a certain Facebook group.

The said movement is to create awareness on the “dangers of the single-use plastic, spark conversations, change mindsets and habits of consumers, urge businesses to operate more sustainably, and influence policy.”

As written above, while our voice is essential into saving our oceans and the ecosystem as a whole, much remains to be done to transform this into concrete actions.

It might be difficult but it is not impossible. No matter how small – starting with plastic straws, a collective effort of everyone may save a life down the ocean and eventually of the humanity.

A single baby step could contribute the great leap of becoming a sustainable city where the beauty of nature can still be enjoyed by the future generations.

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