“They did not know the principles of Ecology. They have to enrol in my course,” said Dr Inocencio E. Buot Jr., PSSN founder, in an interview.
He said that people “must forgive the uninformed” for they know little to nothing about the principles of Ecology. While there are also some who just choose not to listen because of sheer convenience. We are talking about plastic bags.
It was June 2, 2008 when Mayor Caesar Perez enforced the plastic ban in Los Banos. It was implemented that shoppers should bring their own bayongs when buying their groceries otherwise stores will just make use of paper bags. The implementation led to a domino effect as other towns and cities followed suit. It was every ecologist’s dream.
But are we sure that this dream will not be shaken?
There are observations from community folks and students, especially those who reside in elbi that many sole proprietorship businesses start to be lax and don’t encourage shoppers to bring their own bayong anymore. The shop owners just straight out use plastic bags and not the environment- friendly paper bags anymore.
Interview with PSSN representative, Dr Joane Serrano
Me: Why do you think the plastic ban is no longer that strictly implemented in LB compared to the younger days?
Dr. J: One of the problems with this kind of program is when there is a change in local leadership. When former Mayor Ton Genuino replaced Mayor Perez, plastic ban was not part of his major agenda. Thus there was no monitoring done anymore. Many of the vendors and store owners, especially the small ones, did not comply with the municipal ordinance anymore. Hopefully, with Mayor Perez back in the office, this will be part of his priority agenda again.
M: What action can you suggest in addressing this problem?
J: I think one of the reasons why people do not freely comply with this plastic ban ordinance is still the lack of environmental consciousness. There is no depth to what people know about plastics. They just remember not to use plastic whenever there is flood in their area.
There should be more advocacy programs, in various sectors. This cannot be done successfully with just a few people involved. Everyone should be a champion. This can start in elementary schools, out of school youths, people organizations, LGUs, SUCs, private companies.. everyone should be involved. This should not also be a one shot deal. This should be an ongoing program. There should also be consequences.. those who do not comply should be penalized.
M: Which principle of ecology is best to use to explain why people should no longer use plastic bags or plastic in general?
J: The systems principle… everything is interconnected and interrelated. If we do not use plastic, this will have a tremendous effect on the other parts of our lives.. less flooding, less diseases caused by plastic, etc.
M: What are the benefits of not using plastic?
J: There are many resources you can fin about the benefits of not using plastic. Let me just put in one sentence… By not using plastic, we are saving mother earth.
“Clean and Green”
Still, in super markets, brown paper bags are used, they even give discounts or points to shoppers who bring their own bags/ bayong. Fast food chains even show their support by not using straws and plastic utensils.
Dr. Buot said that we must not be lax in doing this duty to our environment. If only every person knows the significance of not using plastic then and only then will elbi be truly “clean and green”, as Mr Mayor’s slogan puts it.
Did you know that it was the students who served as a catalyst and pushed the plastic bag ban campaign? It was 6 years ago that students from MS Development Communication designed publication materials about the campaign called BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag). It was actually for their group project but they coordinated with CCVC (Community Cable Vision Center) so that they can air an awareness video explaining the negative effects of using plastic. Aside from the video, they started the distribution of bags made of coco-cloth or katsa which were donated by the bakeries in elbi. Their action of course, was heard even by Mayor Perez. A year after, he enforced the plastic ban in elbi. Since then, elbi has been known for having a “clean and green” environment.
Dr. Buot said that he salutes the students for making the effects of over usage of plastic known to the community. He also said that now that there some people who already abandoned the advocacy, it’s time for the youth to reinforce the idea to the community folks so that all their efforts will not be wasted.