Tag Archives: Environment

Our Country Is One of The Top Ten Countries Most Vulnerable To Climate Change

Climate change is on top of discussions once more. Tyhoon Karding (international name Noru) has just devastated many of our provinces. Residential areas and farms were damaged.

Aerial inspection of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Tarlac which were affected by the super typhoon Karding. September 26, 2022. (KJ Rosale/PPA POOL)
From The Manila Times

It’s not only in the recent times that the Philippines is visited by typhoons. But the typhoons are gettimg stronger. It used to be that we feared storm signal number 3, now we get signal number 4, even 5. Flooding brought by typhoons occurs more often.

I leave to the experts the explanations on why some countries are more vulnerable than others.

Two factors are our landform and our geographical location . We are an archipelago located beside the North West Pacific basin which is the most active basin on earth for storms to form. 

There are studies which have investigated the different social, economic and environmental factors that cause certain countries to be at a greater risk of climate change as compared to others. It has been determined that developed nations have higher carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and therefore contribute more to climate change. On the other hand, they are often less vulnerable to the consequences of climate change as compared to developing nations that may not be contributing much to the problem . This is true for our country, the Philippines. Being a developing country, we are one of the top 10 countries most affected by climate change, yet we are not one of the countries with the most carbon emission. But there are developed countries which are also vulnerable to climate change, Japan and Germany have been cited too. We are all affected.

We cannot change our geographic location and landform. Our economic development relies mostly on the plans and action of our national leaders.

But there’s one area where we all can help in our individual capacity – the mitigation of climate change. I reiterate the actions we can take from my post World Environment Day 2021.

  1. Growing Trees – if we have a large lot, we can do this. Otherwise let’s participate in tree planting activities . We can develop awareness through our blogs or social media accounts.
  2. Greening Cities – we can do this in our own yards or if we don’t have one we can have plants in pots.
  3. Rewilding gardens – we’re so used to manicured lawns, it’s time to reconsider making it more sustainable and less costly to maintain
  4. Changing diets- let’s buy locally as much as possible so there would be less energy consumption to transport food. Let’s refrain from buying processed food, cooking from fresh ingredients which we can do with care , within is healthier. There will be less wastes from packaging.
  5. Cleaning up rivers and coasts – we can start by avoiding waste and being mindful of waste disposal lest they end up in our bodies of water.

As bloggers, we can drum up interest on the environment or maintain awareness at the least.

Let me share with you my other posts about the environment:

Environment-Friendly Packaging/Packing of Long Ago

The Earth Month reminds us to be conscious of the earth, of the environment. Environmental consciousness has made us discover ways to decrease dependence on plastics if not do away with them. One such way is through packaging/packing materials. Scientists /businesses are finding ways to develop sustainable packaging /packing materials. But we can look to the ways packaging was done long time ago.

Biodegradable packing materials

Some of them withstood progress like the kaing which are still used in the Philippines for packing fruits and vegetables. It is made of local and endemic material rattan.

Kaing from Pinterest

Another packing/packaging material which is still used is the bilao. It is made of bamboo strips. It is used for winnowing palay or unmilled rice. It’s also used for cleaning bigas or milled rice before cooking. Another use is for food container/server, lined with banana leaf when used as such. Nowadays , these are also be lined with aluminum foil , plastic or waxed paper.

Bilao from Filfoods

Biodegradable Baskets/Bags

Baskets made of rattan or other endemic materials were used when going to the market. Some used bayong , a bag made of woven strips of palm leaves. There were no plastic bags then. Paper bags have made a come back but they easily tear so their usage is limited. Eco bags are popular which can be made of cloth or synthetic materials. Synthetic materials are not biodegradable or take years to degrade, but they are reused over and over.

Bayong from Wikipedia

Biodegradable Packaging

Items bought in markets were packed in banana leaf or paper. Some eateries particularly restaurants serving Filipino cuisine still serve rice wrapped in banana leaf because they give a different flavor to the rice. Sometimes it’s for food presentation.

Crabs were tied in uway (soft rattan).

Brown paper was made into small bags for pandesal and other kinds of bread. I remember those bags were made (DIY) by the bakeries.

From Instructable

Paper bags were used for retailed rice and for wholesale abaca sacks were used. Abaca sacks were also used for other produce like peanuts or corn kernels.

Abaca sacks from Shopee

Sugar and flour were packed in sacks made of katsa (unbleached muslin). They were sometimes upcycled/made into work dresses or aprons.

Returnable Bottles

These are usually soft drink bottles. We brought replacement empty bottles or leave a deposit (usually a small amount but enough for you to come back and return the bottle) when we buy, and refund the deposit when we return the bottle. For kids, keeping the refund was enough encouragement to return the bottles.

Own Containers for Retail (Tingi)

Filipinos are fund of tingi or retail in small quantities to enable low income earners to buy just what is needed for the day. This system has been adopted by big business that at present there are products in small packets like shampoo in sachet, three-in-one coffee (coffee, cream and sugar), toothpaste in sachets, etc. I suppose these are also meant for travelers.

Cooking oil was sold in retail in palengkes (wet markets) and sari-sari stores (neighborhood sundry stores , our convenience stores) and we brought our own bottles/containers. Same is true for kerosene. For salt and alamang ( a variety of very tiny shrimps) which is called balaw in our town, we brought either cups or bottles.

Wooden crates

Wooden crates were usually used for bottled products such as soft drinks and beer.

Let’s Support #TeamSeas

WHAT IS #TEAMSEAS

#TeamSeas is a global campaign to raise $30M to remove 30M pounds of plastic and trash from our ocean, rivers and beaches.

Team Seas, stylized as #TeamSeas, is an international collaborative fundraiser project run by YouTubers MrBeast and Mark Rober as a follow up to TeamTrees with the goal to remove 30,000,000 pounds (14,000,000 kg) of marine debris by the end of 2021. It is the largest creator-led fundraising project on the internet to date with thousands of creators alerting their viewers about the project.

The campaign’s goal is to raise 30 million USD to remove 30 million pounds of trash polluting coastal regions, rivers, and ultimately oceans. Every single dollar #TeamSeas raises toward the $30M will go to independently verified pounds of trash that have been removed from beaches, rivers or the ocean. When you donate, the funds go directly to the two not-for-profit organizations, Ocean Conservancy and The Ocean Cleanup. They split the funds 50/50 and the money will be released when the trash is removed and verified: $1, one pound. Each non-profit is responsible for delivering on their half of the goal. (Based on their site https://teamseas.org/ )

A team of YouTubers collaborated to create content and inform their audience about #TeamSeas, am using two of these videos below.

WHY SHOULD WE CARE

Trash, specially plastics, affect the environment.

Plastics affect our health

WHAT WE CAN DO

1. Avoid Using Plastic – the best prevention is at inception.

2. Donate

https://teamseas.org/

3. Recycle and reuse so that plastic garbage is minimized.

4. Discard properly if we have to throw away plastics.

5. Inform/Create Awareness about plastics

Mother Earth, How Do I Care For Thee

Let me count the ways.

1. My little garden.

My garden is little and simple. It’s a place where I nurture plants- flowering, ornamental, some vegetables and some fruit trees. In their own little ways the plants provide oxygen to the atmosphere. My flowering and ornamental plants provide beauty to the place and flowers to grace my altar and make my house a pleasant place. The flowers attract butterflies and emit a faint fragrance.

My garden also nurtures me specially during this time of staying at home to stay safe because of the pandemic. I feel close to nature even at home. It’s one of my positive realizations in the days of Covid.

Balimbing blossoms

Balimbing fruit

The fruit trees, just the small varieties in the corners of the garden, provide fruits for my health and their branches and leaves provide a shady playground for birds.

See (spot) the lone bird in the shade of the kamias (or kalamias in Quezon), there are more birds actually but they fly away when I start to take pictures.

Guavas

2. Natural insect repellant/fertilizer

Repellant /fertilizer from orange peel.

I use orange peel as insect repellant and other fruits for fertilizer (in addition to compost).

3. Composting

It gives two benefits. It minimizes wastes thrown to landfills as all garden trimmings and dry leaves go to the compost pit as well as biodegradable wastes such as fruit and vegetable peels and other kitchen wastes. The compost serves as organic fertilizer.

4. Use of Environment Friendly Stones in Garden Instead of Cement

I use stones in the areas not reached by sunlight and where grass doesn’t thrive. It’s said that cement causes flooding as they don’t allow rain water to seep into the soil.

5. Mindful Acquiring

This is made easier by the pandemic. I’m trying to extend my year of frugal living and to maintain the practice of buying only what are needed.

6. Mindful Discarding

I discussed this in detail in my post Mindful Discarding which covers:

  • giving away to those who want or the need the items
  • recycling
  • repurposing
  • throwing away as a last step if the first steps are not possible..

7. Use of Public Transport Whenever Possible

I practiced this before the pandemic. I must admit though that I use vans used for point-to-point transport where the loading center is provided by the mall where I park my car and the off-loading terminal is also at a point near my destination in Makati Business Center so it’s not “as public” as regular buses.

Now during the pandemic, I work/stay at home most of the time and only go to places near our home by walking or short rides.

I’ve done something, I can do more. As I do more for Mother Earth, I do more for me because the earth nurtures me as I nurture it.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Mindful Discarding

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

Holy Week has just passed. Holy Week being a four-day break is a long break , more felt before the quarantines or lockdowns. Our family and most of my friends don’t go out on vacation to some resorts or beaches during this long break specially when my mother was still alive. We attended church services and stayed home for family bonding and some quiet time. The long break is usually a time for me to organize my things or declutter.

I organize and discard things mindfully because I have a tendency to hold on to items which hold memories. Decluttering can sometimes be an emotional experience as I let my rational mind balance my sentimental side. Another reason is, I’d like to be part of the solution in maintaining environmental health so I don’t simply throw away old or extra items.

Clutter avoidance or buying only items needed when they are needed or mindful acquiring should be the strategy because of my tendency to hold on to things. I practice this as much as possible. However, there are times when I still buy new things like when there’s an occasion where I have to dress appropriately even if it means wearing a dress with a matching pair of shoes just once. I also buy some products made by charitable organizations to support them. And there are items which I didn’t buy like gifts which are beautiful and I appreciate but are sometimes duplicates.

So I do the following:

Selection of Items to Give Away

I sort my items into

1. Unused. These are usually excess items I bought when I travelled intended as “pasalubong”. ( Note: Pasalubongs are gifts made when coming from a trip). Sometimes I receive duplicate gifts/give-aways from corporate events, items I won from raffles and the like.

2. Hardly Used . These are items I bought or gifts which I used once or twice for an occasion/occasions , dresses or apparels that didn’t suit me .

3. Used . These are items which have outlived their use or I received a new one which is similar. These are sub-classified to useable and for throwing away.

Selection of Recipients

I choose my recipients with care.

1. Unused – I sometimes give them as gifts or give-aways for Christmas . I’d choose items for gifts as if I’m buying them, with much thought if the recipient will like it. Sometimes I just give them because they are needed like when I won the grand prize in a raffle, a flat screen TV and I gave it to my sister whose old TV needed replacement. The others, I donate to charities.

One option for giving /discarding is through barter that developed and became popular during the pandemic. It’s discussed here https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1103536. This was also suggested in our neighborhood but it did not catch on. Still, I see posts in our Subdivision chat group by someone who is selling or giving something away and asking if anyone is interested. It’s a good way to match items with those who need them.

Another option is garage or yard sale, popular in western countries and tried by a few in the Philippines, which I haven’t tried.

2. Hardly used – I give them away but I ask my recipient to choose, usually a relative or a close friend like when I gave away bags and luggage. By this approach, am sure the item is really liked or needed and the item will find a new appreciative owner/home . When an item is not chosen, I keep keep the items until I find a recipient (if there’s still storage space) or donate them to charities.

I’d like to donate to charities near to my community as possible , or to organizations which are not yet large or to charities which teach beneficiaries to be self-sufficient/self-reliant.

3. Used . Those which are useable are donated. Those which are no longer useable are sold to “mangangalakal” if they are made of metal like old computers, screens, and the like or if they are made of certain kinds of recyclable plastics. (Note: “Mangangalakal” literally is trader but they refer to those who buy recyclable items and sell them to junk shops. They used to be called “bote-dyaryo” literally bottle-newspaper because they usually buy used bottles and old newspapers).

Those which cannot be sold to the “mangangalakal” are repurposed at home. Examples are old towels and T-shirts which I make into rags, old containers which I make into plant pots and the like. The rest are thrown away. I put nice boxes and nice bottles in clean transparent bags when I put them for pick up by the garbage collector so that if anyone passing by or the garbage collector will find them useful , he can take them.

Timing of Giving

Giving as gifts/give-aways usually occurs on Christmas because of the spirit of gift-giving . I remember in my previous office when we hold an after-Christmas exchange gift of items that are good but for some reasons are just languishing in our storage. It was fun and helpful at the same time.

The Philippines is usually visited by typhoons during the rainy season so I go over my things during these times and donate appropriate items.

There’s always Caritas which accepts donations through parishes anytime. They can also pick up your donations depending on the items being donated and location. They donate things directly or sell them in their stores to generate fund for use in projects like scholarship.

Repurposing is done as needed.

If the above process of selection fails , items are thrown away which is the last resort.

The process boils down to mindful acquiring and mindful discarding, a simple process if the objective is simply to acquire or discard and mindfulness is taken out of the process. But our environment is going out of balance with mindless acquisitions and mindless discarding. And, life’s simple joys can come from small things we receive from those we love or by giving something that we think will give our loved ones joy.

A Furry Tale

This is a true story of a kitten which happened in stormy October this year.

I heard a distant cry of a kitten in the night. I thought it must be a kitten which got separated from it’s family. It sounded near but we couldn’t see it. Then it was silent except for the sound of rain, the kitten must have been found. The next morning, the kitten was there in our garden. I let it sleep, then fed it.

We found out that it’s a she. I expected her to leave just like my previous furry visitors. Or her owner would come for her.

I’ve had furry visitors before.

There’s this fluffy white one. His owner came for him, spotted him when he ventured outside our gate. I learned that his name is Tofu. I was glad Tofu and his owner were reunited. Tofu still visits once in a while.

There’s this orange one. He just visits , enjoys himself, then goes back to his home. I know he has a home somewhere, he has a collar, though without a name tag.

But this kitten wouldn’t leave. She’s probably too young to find her way back to where she came from.

No one looked for her or came for her.

So I let her stay.

She’s now my pet. She’s home.