Love your mother, tote a canvas bag
If you weren’t one of the privileged few (200 million I’ve read) who are now enjoying the afterlife after last Saturday’s “end of the world” fiasco then there may still be time for you to do your bit to protect and respect the planet before leaving it for real. How so? Well, if you like to shop then take it easy on the plastic….bags. A survey about two years ago came up with the calculation that an individual can use up to 900 plastic bags a year, which, if you multiply it times the bazillion mall denizens around the world, is pretty scary. To add to the scary statistics, it takes about 1000 years for plastic to decompose on land and 450 years to decompose in water. And no, that does not give you smart-alecks an excuse to throw your plastic in the sea instead of a garbage can or recycling bin. Right now, there is what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is basically an island of trash as big as the state of Texas (some have said it’s now double the size of Texas) located in the Pacific Ocean. And how big is the state Texas? It’s roughly 261,914 square miles, while the land area of the Philippines has been measured to be 115,831 square miles. In other words, you could cover our entire country twice with trash and it wouldn’t be enough.
These findings are part of the reason why the founders of Mother Earth Bags decided to come together and get into the movement of creating recycled or re-useable bags. “I saw photos of dead animals with plastic tangled around their necks or torsos, or visible inside carcasses of dead animals.” remarks Nena Wuthrich, one of the founders, “More than a million birds and hundreds of thousands of marine life are killed by plastic trash every year. I feel that Mother Nature has built for us this amazing playground but sadly, man has abused this gift and continues to do so. Our trash is suffocating the Earth, and I just couldn’t sit around and ignore this reality, I had to do something”. While Wuthrich was living in London for work, she had developed the habit of bringing her own re-usable shopping bags to the market and grocery and eventually when shopping for clothes. Upon returning to Manila in 2004 she noticed the limited options for her preferred carry-all, most were too expensive, so she decided to come up with a cheaper alternative using recycled materials.
It was a trip to Laguna that gave her a solution, a bakery she frequented was selling their used flour sacks, and she thought, if they were sturdy enough to carry all that flour, they would definitely be able to withstand grocery items and the like. “So I took some of those sacks home to experiment with, shared my ideas with some friends and shortly thereafter Mother Earth was born!” shares Wuthrich. The team of five soon developed partnerships and even found a group of underprivileged woman in Taguig, to make the bags. “These women from The Livelihood Shop used to find scraps from an intimate apparel plant next to them to make their own bras” she continues “now we employ ten female sewers who are aged 40 yrs old and above and five out-of-school youths to do the silk screening.” Not only does the company do its part in supporting a livelihood project but it also looks for other Earth-friendly projects to support. Back in 2010, some of Mother Earth’s proceeds were donated to Haribon’s Road to 2010 campaign. This advocacy was primarily to raise funds for reforestation, most of which was to be used for seedlings.
The designs of Mother Earth bags are quirky, whimsical and for some, downright naughty. One of the best-sellers being the Mother Packer edition, for reasons that your own imagination can probably answer. There are also those still made from the flour and rice sacks which have been embellished with butterflies, buttons, or even colorful fringe to give them a more stylish appeal. These bags are also inexpensive, around Php 200 each, so go right ahead and buy a bunch, they make great gifts or give-aways at a party. One last tip. Since we all have our “last-minute” shopping errands that oftentimes find us without a re-useable bag; keep one in your car, or if you have multiple vehicles, keep one in every car, just in case. And right as you are about to pop into a shop or a supermarket, carry it with you and hand it to the “bagger” when you’re about to pay. With one simple step, you’ve made a giant one for Mother Earth.
To order or to see more Mother Earth Bags go to http://mamaearth.multiply.com/
For more Soul Train go to: http://www.thesoultrain.net
SOUL TRAIN By Katrina A. Holigores (The Philippine Star) Updated May 27, 2011 12:00 AM