I’ve been living and working in the progressive City of Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines for more than six months now.  One of the things I like here is the strict implementation of the city ordinance on the prohibition on the use of plastic bags in commercial establishments, including restaurants and fast food chains. Thus, people bring there own “Eco bag” when shopping for grocery items for example. Otherwise, they are going to have a hard time carrying heavy goods placed in brown paper bags.

Whenever I would have a paper bag, I neatly fold it and set it aside. I usually use it as container for my paper trash, or use it for any other purpose.

One time, I was looking for an eco bag in my cabinet before heading to the grocery store. I planned to buy a few things only, and it seemed that the cloth bags I have are too big to contain them. When I saw the pile of brown paper bags, I got one and brought it with me.

At the cashier, I said to the bagger, “Dito mo na lang po ilagay, maayos pa naman yan.” (Place my stuff here, that’s still okay.) The man looked puzzled as if I have said the strangest thing he has ever heard in his entire life. Then he could not stop smiling and laughing as politely as he could. He said to the cashier, “Bigyan mo si Ma’am ng 5 points sa card. Ito yung eco bag nya!” (Give her 5 points in her loyalty card. This is her eco bag) .The cashier replied, “Paano yan, ilang points ibibigay ko 2?” (How is that? How many points am I going to credit, 2?) Then the bagger added while still smiling and cannot get over the incident, “Siguro mahal na mahal nyo ito. Pinalantsa nyo pa yata ito.” (You must love this paper bag so much. You may have even iron pressed this.)

If those two personnel behind the counter found my act funny and peculiar, I let them be. For me, they don’t fully understand the deeper reason behind the use of paper or eco bags instead of plastic bags. They must have missed the idea that there are many ways to kill a cat or that there are many ways to go to Rome. What I was thinking the whole time was I did something for the good of Mother Earth. I don’t know how many weird people like me who would do the such thing are out there. But I just believe that one small act of concern can make a big difference.