How much does “environmentalism” cost?

I am trying hard to switch my way to “environment-friendly” stuff such as bringing my own eco bags when shopping, using metal straws, selling/donating plastics, etc. It honestly didn’t occur to me that “environmentalism” is kind of “exclusive” until I read a post shared on Facebook from Twitter.

Bamboo straw comment on environmentalism

I would disagree, too, but there is the obvious point. If you search the net or ask around how much a “re-usable” stuff is, they would cost way too much than just paying for a sachet or plastic version of anything. There’s no denying that. Now, I’m in this argument with myself about is environmentalism only for the rich? 

What does it take to belong to environmental movement?

Yes, eco bags are everywhere and you can actually buy it for as low as 10php right there on a counter at SM Hypermarket. But does everyone or at least every family have an extra 10php to give up versus a plastic bag which is actually free of charge? Instead of adding it to buy another item or buy food, I could say they won’t buy the eco bag anymore. Good thing other branches and other supermarkets are now using paperbags, thanks to you, people.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Yes, metal straws and bamboo straws are cool and yes, they really are a big help to the environment. But can everyone or at least evey family afford a 60php straw? Nowp. Even restaurants are using these straws but can everyone afford a single meal from there? If I were that person, I would use the money to buy food or milk for my daughter. I really wish and hope low-cost fastfood chains are thinking of a way to do their part on this, at least like by using paper straws which are way cheaper than metals and bamboos.

Even organic foods are waaaaaay more expensive than the “sinful” ones. I remember getting myself a fresh, healthy salad, and paying 300php+ for it. I can already buy two BigMacs with that! Uhm, and yes, volunteer works will also cost you something. What else?

I mean, let’s face it. Though we can consider this as some kind investment or a saving – since these stuff are reusable and in some way can help us on our health – the hard truth is, many people still cannot afford them.

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Environmentalism of the poor

I always feel bad when I use the term “poor”, but we have to have a #realtalk regarding this issue and I think people needs to discuss this as well. How do we promote “environmentalism” to the lower class? How can we help them to be part of this movement?

Sad thing is, we don’t even know the limitations and disability of the people we are trying to reach out to. Many people consider environmentalism stupid and costly and just a luxury. They don’t see the need of it. And/or, they don’t have the capacity to join the movement. And/or the able ones also have limitations on their side of the story.

Then how can we help?

  • Choose to reuse. This is probably the number one answer. Either you consider yourself rich, poor, or within the middle class, you can be part of this. Many are already practicing such, but there is at least 80% the says they “like” and “appreciate” the concept, but never do it anyway. Actions, people. Actions!
  • Learn to love leftovers. At home, leftovers are equally treasured with freshly-cooked food. My mom usually re-cook them, or make up something new from it. I also encourage them to share some with the manong na nag-kokolekta ng basura. 
  • Donate to people who cannot afford. Speaking of giving, if you are more than able, why not provide stuff for people you can’t  afford? A little used eco-bag is one example of what to give to families, especially to moms who usually go to the market.
  • Bring your own cup. Many coffee houses are now encouraging people to bring their own cups. For example, Starbucks offer certain discount if your bring your own tumbler or mug.

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There are many more ways to go environment-friendly. And we can start by not throwing garbage on the streets. Buying these trendy and innovative environment-friendly stuff are not the only way. So I say, environmentalism is for everyone.

Even myself rarely participate in the Earth Hour. I’m not even sure if families with no TVs at home and families with no houses are aware we have these campaigns. Promoting these kinds of stuff obviously have a huge cost, so we can’t wrong the manufacturers, advocates, and influencers as well. Can we just hope people don’t take advantage of the trend and sell these things at a reasonable price? Can we just start with ourselves and be a good human and help the environment? Can we just make impact in our own little ways just to make more people do the same and just stop blaming and shaming others? Can we just set an example without bragging about being one?

“People ‘over-produce’ pollution because they are not paying for the costs of dealing with it.” ― Ha-Joon Chang

We all are affected by climate change, pollution, sangkaterbang bara sa kanal, flood, etc. So it’s just fair that we act on this together, little by little. So maybe, if you can afford an environment-friendly stuff, go get yourself one. If you can afford more than for your family, give away some for friends. Then again, we don’t need to spend too much on fancy stuff just to label ourselves “environmentalists”. Start by cleaning your own space, and avoid messing up the environment. We can do it, people, slowly but most definitely surely!


Wonderful images were from Unsplash.

Stay connected! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Zomato. I also am on VSCOTwitter, Goodreads, and wherever, just search @themhayonnaise. XOXO

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