Jean is a 23-year-old single parent who grew up in…
A million plastic bottles are sold every minute. The worst part is only nine percent of those bottles get recycled. What can we do to help?
Ditching bottled water is just one step to resolving the issue. But that’s not the only source of the problem. Personal care and cosmetics is the second biggest contributor to plastic bottle use. Check your bathroom. You’ll probably find shampoo and conditioner bottles, lotion bottles, and more.
But there’s still hope to get out of your plastic dilemma. Saying “no” to plastic is a good start. Shifting to alternative options, even with toiletries, is the next step.
The Eco Shift store says we can still make a difference. Here’s how.
A Zero-Waste Life
The Eco Shift is just like any other shop promoting eco-friendly and zero-waste products. The only difference is that the store’s main focus is in zero plastic use, particularly when it comes to personal care and cosmetic products.
The Eco Shift is an all-woman team. With 18 years of solid pharmaceutical sales experience, Irene Mejer took on the challenge of shifting to alternative zero-waste options. Her daughters assist her with the infographics and labeling of the products, while her sister manages online queries and deliveries.
Of course, Irene recognizes that living a zero-waste life is hard. “Some would even think of it as expensive,” she says.
But for Mejer, the goal is to help people get over that mindset and bridge the gap between cost and eco-consciousness. Through The Eco Shift, she thought of ways to reduce plastic use while still providing people with products that are not just affordable, but also works in the same way that products that come in plastic containers do.
“As a woman and a mother of two girls, I’ve been a witness and I was one of the guilty parties in the increasing number of plastic bottle use. Majority of these products have alternative options, like the shampoo and conditioner bars. As we go along, we aim to replace all these bottles with a more sustainable option — a non-plastic waste option,” Irene shares.
Making the Shift to Sustainability an Affordable One
But switching to sustainable products isn’t without its challenges. Irene experienced it herself.
“I wanted to make the shift and got really frustrated at how expensive a single shampoo bar cost. I realized that people will never be encouraged to shift to zero plastic options if the products are more expensive than the ones they currently use,” she reveals.
It’s true. It’s hard to find a relatively affordable shampoo bar that gives you the volume and shine that most bottled shampoo products deliver.
“I used to enjoy throwing bottle after bottle of shampoo and conditioner in the trash. There was something about it that gave me a sense of accomplishment, until I realized what a lousy human being I have become,” Mejer shares.
When Irene and her daughters moved to a more compact space, the trash coming from the bathroom and personal care essentials piled up more quickly.
“Imagine the amount of plastic bottle trash we come up with: shampoo, conditioner, feminine wash, body wash, toner, moisturizer, deodorant, hair serum, and so on and so forth. So I said to myself, ‘This has got to stop. There has to be another way,'” Irene recounts.
More and more people are becoming aware of the current plastic dilemma. What’s worse is that the Philippines ranked third among the countries polluting the oceans the most.
The need for other options is increasing. With a growing middle class slowly embracing a zero plastic waste lifestyle, Irene came up with the brilliant solution that is The Eco Shift store.
Right now, the brand offers shampoo bars, conditioner bars, hand and body lotion bars, and bamboo toothbrushes. The Eco Shift also carries the Foolhardy brand of tumblers, water containers, and more.
The Vision and Mission of Sustainability
The goal of The Eco Shift store is to produce zero plastic waste in all of its products, from manufacturing to distribution. Irene, however, reveals that it wasn’t easy.
“We encountered some challenges in delivery during the first two months, but we already had this sorted out,” she shares.
It seems local couriers don’t allow packages to be wrapped in paper. Most will require shippers to use the plastic pouches of the service or to use boxes, which turn into an additional expense for the business. Irene adds, “But I found a local courier CliqNShip who allowed me to ship items in a paper bag as long as it is secured for metro manila. I also found an Eco friendly courier service using bikes: GoFer.”
The store’s message is simple: we should stop using single-use plastic products. As Irene points out, “By the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. We are the consumers; we have the right to refuse plastic use and choose a more sustainable choice.”
The Eco Shift store envisions a world wherein everyone does their part — big or small — in taking care of our planet. The shop has a long way to go, but Irene remains hopeful that they’d come up with an alternative to the “tingi-tingi” system in the country.
There’s always another way to help save our environment. Let the kids today, and the future generations to come, experience the wonders of the world as we see them now. All you have to do is ditch the plastic.
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Jean is a 23-year-old single parent who grew up in Pampanga. As a feminist, she fights against misogyny and misandry one day at a time.