HEADLINES

The First Plastic-Free Store in Dumaguete City: The store that took Dumaguete one step closer to a more sustainable and eco-friendly future

By Maria Fiona A. Labucuas | Feature Writer

Vol. XCI No. 2 — Aug. 7, 2019

Welcome to Lipay Mundo Co., the first zero-waste store in Dumaguete City.

Lipay Mundo Co. is a place that caters to a certain niche: the eco-friendly, the organic, and the locally made.

The Philippines ranks as the third-largest contributor to ocean waste. On a more local scale, six barangays in Dumaguete City have declared a state of calamity because of the overflow of waste. Multiple zero-waste movements in Negros Oriental have urged citizens to act and lessen plastic usage, offering alternatives and tips on living a plastic-free life in response to the alarming increase in plastic waste.

In other words, life is plastic and it’s no longer fantastic.

Lipay Mundo Co. once began as Eula Rae Libo-on’s dream. She wanted to open a zero-waste shop and invest in something that could positively impact the people and the future generations. She reached out to two of her closest friends, Jess Gillesania and Valerie Ando, who gladly jumped in with the idea.

“We want Lipay Mundo Co. to be a hub for low-waste to zero-waste living and a united space for makers of sustainable products,” said Libo-on. She added that their mission is to keep non-recyclables and non-compostables out of landfills.

Their products are sourced from individuals and brands that share the same mission – to make a positive impact on the environment.

THE MOVEMENT

Lessening plastic waste starts with the individual. According to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Filipinos use more than 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping, and 45 million thin film bags daily. GAIA also stated in their report that Filipinos use 17.5 billion pieces of plastic shopping bags and 16.5 pieces of plastic labo bags. 

Local zero-waste movements like War on Waste and Plastic Warriors Dumaguete have been campaigning against the use of single-use plastic and promoting plastic alternatives while pushing for a plastic-free lifestyle. They aim to spread awareness to the local consumers in the community to take action and make lifestyle changes to stop the plastic pollution epidemic.

Lipay Mundo Co. takes this movement further by not only urging the consumers to go packaging and plastic-free but also other local businesses as well.

THE STORE

On June 27, the first zero-waste store in Dumaguete City had its soft opening.

Located at Gabby’s Bed and Breakfast, Daro, Dumaguete, Lipay Mundo Co. is a small grocery-esque store where people can find organic and local products for their personal, laundry, and kitchen needs, as well as food and shirts.

The word “Lipay” means “happy” in Visayan colloquial, “Mundo” is Filipino for “world” while “Co.” stands for “partnership.” Lipay Mundo Co. partners with local foreign organizations and individuals in bringing the citizens of Dumaguete City to a zero-waste and plastic-free lifestyle.

The small store is similar to that of Bea Crisostomo-Misa’s Ritual Store in Makati where customers are encouraged to bring their own containers to purchase locally-sourced products.

At Lipay Mundo Co., the shelves are lined with jars of kitchen essentials like spices and coffee beans, along with glass dispensers of natural dishwashing liquid, lavender laundry liquid, and more. On the shelf adjacent to the door when you enter are lines of products sourced from local vendors from within and outside of Dumaguete. 

The store has solid products which are priced by piece. They also have a refillery for their liquid products that an individual can buy by ounce or gram. Because of the store’s packaging-free advocacy, customers are encouraged to bring their own bottles or containers when purchasing products. 

The products are weighed and priced depending on the calculated weight or volume. They also offer free used (but sanitized) bottles for customers who are not able to bring containers.

Lipay Mundo Co.’s products are sourced from individuals and brands that share their mission- to create a positive impact on the environment.

THE ADVOCACY AND THE COMMUNITY

Because of the plastic pollution problem in the Philippines, Eula Rae Libo-on, Jess Gillesania, and Valerie Ando decided that there had to be something they could do; thus, they created a physical store of eco-friendly and sustainable products. They felt that the people of Dumaguete who share the same goal and advocacy should be given a common place to network with each other, raise public awareness, and offer sustainable alternatives to plastic.

“Plastic waste is not a joke,” said Lipay Mundo Co.

Not only does Lipay Mundo Co. care for the environment, it also helps local vendors. Lipay Mundo Co., partnered with local vendors from within and outside Dumaguete to promote and support local products. They believe that one of the most sustainable acts is buying from local producers.

Aside from zero waste organizations and stores and restaurants slowly lessening plastic use, schools, like Silliman University, have been implementing Zero-Waste programs to help save the seas and lessen ocean waste pollution. Projects, like Project Balod, have also focused on informing and calling citizens to act upon the current ocean waste problem of the Philippines.

“We are not yet experts on zero-waste, but we have friends that are teachers on zero-waste and sustainability helping us understand the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ about it,” said Libo-on, “We can never do this without their support and wisdom. She calls them her friends and constant sources of inspiration.

They also feel that the community will get bigger. Recently, more and more people have been participating in the zero-waste movement. Students are starting to use and bring metal tin tumblers for water and drinks instead of buying plastic bottles of water.

Lipay Mundo Co. not only encourages citizens to practice sustainable consumerism but also sets an example to other local businesses to take action and do their part in the zero-waste movement. They want to inspire others and make them #DoTheSwitch to sustainable living.

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