Updated: Sep 1, 2019
Naturally, as a shoreside community, Open House in La Union rallies to the cause of a plastic-free lifestyle. Among its champions is Humble Market, an innovative shop from Mandaluyong that brings its eco-friendly solutions to the Surfing Capital of the North.
A bad habit that you can’t break, essentially, is an addiction. When you repeat a behavior, it’s because your brain associates whatever actions and feelings you have while doing it to pleasure and reward. Over time, it influences your motivations and takes a place in your physical and emotional reflexes. For some people, these bad habits and addictions can be obvious and apparent, like smoking cigarettes, or deep and hidden, like a negative sense of self-worth. Some of the most dangerous addictions, though, are those that happen on a collective level – dysfunctions that we, as a society, consider the norm. That’s what plastic-use has become for us.
Before the sachet economy, the “tingi culture” of Filipinos translated to consumers bringing their own containers to stores so that they could get their fill of condiments – soy sauce and vinegar – or fruits and vegetables per piece. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when multinational companies saw the potential to cater to this behavior, that the single-use plastic business really exploded. Now, the Philippines ranks among the world’s top ocean polluters, with nearly 60 billion sachets from our country a year making it to marine environments.
A tiny store with an epic effort, Humble Market, is reviving this mindful consumer practice from the ‘70s. Doing away with packaging, working with local producers and craftsmen, and promoting a zero-waste lifestyle, Humble Market came as an extension of owner Roanna Medina's daily choices. Roanna is a licensed integrative nutrition health coach who, after being diagnosed with a hereditary thyroid condition, realized the near inevitability of chronic diseases among this generation. With the aims of sustainable living and holistic wellness, Roanna created a self-service walkthrough store in Mandaluyong where people can bring their own containers and weigh their own food products – rice, granola, nuts, Goji berries – before checking out. Aside from these, Humble Market also makes non-food products for the home, kitchen, or personal care.
Here are some of the items that Humble Market offers at the Surfing Capital of the North:
1. Facial Wipes
It’s not yet widespread knowledge that wipes contain plastic but they do, in fact, have polyester that make them a danger to marine life – especially when they’re flushed down toilets. In response to this, Humble Market created facial wipes with pure cotton that can easily be washed and reused.
2. Cotton Net Tote Shopping Bag
In an effort to take the place of plastic bags, these cotton net tote shopping bags can hold beach essentials or grocery items. With San Juan’s public market disallowing the use of plastic bags, these wide net bags are perfect for fresh produce.
3. Bamboo Lid Stainless Steel Drink Bottle
Water bottles and juice boxes with plastic straws are just some of the largest plastic waste producers in oceanways around the world. Throughout the La Union surftown, it is highly encouraged to bring your own drinking bottle, especially as clean water is usually free and available in most major establishments.
4. Bamboo Tea Tumbler
While La Union is easily a coffee town as much as it is a surf destination, tea drinkers can keep their leafy brews and take them around in these pretty and portable infusers.
5. Bamboo Toothbrush
Beach clean-ups in Hawaii have reported commonplace recoveries of at least 20 plastic toothbrushes on a regular basis. That’s an alarming statistic considering brushing your teeth is a daily behavior (we hope!) that requires these plastic tools. Humble Market’s biodegradable alternative puts a conscious option on the table, though, and it’s got just as soft bristles as the next marketed commodity. It’s definitely worth considering especially since plastic toothbrushes have a 6-week turnover that puts consumption to around 8 plastic tooth brushes per person a year.
6. Menstrual Cup and Cloth Panty Liners
It doesn’t take a scientist to see the disastrous waste accumulation of menstrual pads, panty liners, and tampons, let alone their plastic applicators and packaging. The use of menstrual cups and cloth panty liners are slowly catching on, however, with the silicone bell-shaped instruments converting more first-time users into loyal advocates.
7. Dish Brush
Plastic cleaning brushes are essentially just larger toothbrushes for the kitchen. Humble Market extends its sustainable alternatives to the home cleaning sphere with this wooden biodegradable, and even offers replacement brush heads to address the regular wear and tear.
About the Author:
Aussy is one of many immigrants to La Union — and with her, she has taken a career as a writer and editor for food, wine, and lifestyle; a past life as an artist & events manager with the small after-hours music cult, Mary Moon Productions; and a larger-than-life daughter named Alana. She’s @aussyaa on Instagram and @aaaussy on Twitter