Here’s to being *imperfectly* sustainable with Rustan’s Home
It’s true that almost everyone can choose to live a more sustainable lifestyle. While we may have been greenwashed to believe that the best way to be eco-friendly was to buy a metal straw and an insulated tumbler, we later learned that isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, we may even be practicing earth-friendly habits without realizing it!
A third-world country like the Philippines produces more waste because the majority of the population can’t buy things in bulk and therefore resort to the convenience of sachets (see: sachet or tingi culture). However, a reality where many people don’t have easy access to wealth has brought on its own share of uncanny “sustainable” habits.
Case in point: the iconic ice cream tub that secretly contains raw fish to be cooked for dinner, the stash of plastic bags hidden beneath the sink, and the washed-and-reused stock of takeout containers hiding in the kitchen drawer. Trust me, these habits can bleed over from generation to generation. Sometimes, we surprisingly catch ourselves mirroring our parents. We have a hard time throwing waste like old phone boxes because they were part of the hefty price that we paid for, and we hoard things even if we don’t need them. Why? “Sayang kasi (It would be a waste).”
While I was born and raised in the city, I’ve had my fair share of visits (thanks to a former internship) to the province where I witnessed lifestyles vastly different from mine. These provincial artisans and producers that I met used common items as their materials to create. Old beer bottles had new life as bottles of homemade vinegar, an old tin can served as a container for jam, and carefully sewn buri palm leaves were repurposed as packaging for artisanal sugar. It was crude, it was simple, but it worked and it was sustainable.
We already had practices that worked for us and the environment until we got used to the convenience of capitalism. We used to go to the market with our own containers, and cooking food at home was nothing out of the blue. Then we relied on plastic bags and benefited from their convenience. Now, we have food delivered straight to our doors, perfectly packaged in single-use containers.
Since we’re so used to the beauty of convenience, it’s no surprise that reverting to our old and eco-friendly ways in the name of Mother Earth will be challenging. For those who grew up surrounded by *sustainable* clutter, getting back to it might not necessarily be inviting. While sustainability can mean reverting to simple means, it can be deterring for some because, truth be told, it isn’t necessarily pleasant. It’s not a lifestyle suited for everybody.
Sure, the things that are important require hard work and sacrifice, and what’s critical is often more important than what’s convenient. But I’d like to believe that sustaining (see what I did there) a sustainable lifestyle would be difficult to do if it isn’t an enjoyable process for you in the first place. James Clear, the author of the bestselling self-help book Atomic Habits says the same thing. According to him, building a good habit requires making it obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying.
Thankfully, there are companies that are starting to align with the eco-friendly agenda, making it easier for us to pursue a lifestyle that supports us and our environment.
The Rustan’s Home Division at Rustan’s Makati recently held Eco Living Elevated, an event that showcased quality brands that have parallel initiatives that consider local communities, culture and ecosystems. Here are some brands that caught our eye.
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If you’ve ever wandered into IKEA and bought one of their woven rugs or placemats, consider the brand Caljje. This family-owned brand, founded by Jose Morin, has been making woven abaca products since the 1970s.
Purchases from this local enterprise support their team of weavers based in Bicol, and you get a unique product made from natural, renewable material that also looks great in your home.
Follow Caljje on Instagram.
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To complete your nature-inspired interiors, you can resort to local furniture manufacturers like Calfurn. Based in Angeles City, Pampanga, they specialize in woven furniture that features world-class craftsmanship.
As a Big Light loather, my personal favorites are their selection of woven lamps which bring in the perfect ambience for any setting.
Follow Calfurn on Instagram.
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I’ve known Gourmet Farms as a go-to restaurant to visit in Tagaytay since my childhood days. I remember them for their organically grown salads, as well as their homemade salad dressings, which (to my joy) are still being sold by the brand. Moreover, they have other products that come from their 12-hectare organic farm that aren’t typically found in commercial markets, such as Philippine herbal teas (including sambong, pito-pito and banaba, which have multiple benefits), Lettuce Chips, as well as locally sourced coffee beans.
Follow Gourmet Farms on Instagram.
The road to sustainability isn’t about being perfect, and there is no single “right” way of doing things. Practicing a lifestyle that works for us and the environment isn’t something that can be accomplished overnight; it’s a series of trial-and-error to find out what suits us. If you need to make sustainability enjoyable for you to jumpstart this lifestyle, then you have the license to do so.
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” —Anne-Marie Bonneau
Header Photo Calfurn
Words Gwyneth King
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver