It’s a small (and filthy) world after all

I’m still trying to learn how blogging works exactly. After setting this site up yesterday, I realized that there’s more to learn about it. For a person my age, technology — or the process of learning it — can really be a pain in the butt.

My niece who is very much into blogging told me setting up the site is the easy part. She said now I need to get traffic if my intention is to get people reading the stuff I put up here.

Following her advice, which really wasn’t as clear and complete as I would have preferred, I sent out emails to my friends asking them to come and visit my site. I don’t know if my little promotion will bring in the thousand page views per day that I think should be enough to get my message out because my wordpress stats right now is showing me that all I got was a grand total of five new visits. Talk about dominating the blogosphere.

One good thing came out of my email blast (my niece says that’s what it’s called) though. I checked my email and saw that one of my friends sent me a long comment. I am posting it here because it brings out some interesting points about the Philippines’ sachet economy, of which I am not a fan. Here’s the comment from my friend Porfirio posted as is:

It’s a small (and filthy) world after all

The world is indeed getting smaller, not only because of unimaginable advances in technology but likewise due to consumer products peddled to poorer people in plastic sachets, which has emerged as today’s best selling polluter.

The past few years saw the steady proliferation of all sorts of consumer goods from coffee, to Sunsilk and Clear shampoo, Ponds cream, Surf and Tide detergents, Dove soaps, Colgate and Close-Up toothpaste,  milk and the like purportedly to respond to the demand of consumers for such products in cheaper and smaller quantities.

Today, leading consumer goods manufacturers Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Nestle have saturated market shelves with their products in plastic sachets and pouches.

Sadly, the sachet revolution not only filled our shelves but also landfills, waterways and other places where they are dumped, clogging drainage facilities ad triggering massive environmental damage like floods.

Just remember Ondoy  last year and the massive flooding it caused, blamed largely on clogged drains.

Yes, products in sachets are answers to the deteriorating purchasing power of people, (though the same is disputed by economists and business analysts) and manufacturers have the right earn profits by supplying that need,  which they have been doing for many years now.

But how about the moral obligation of being more active in helping clean up the mess caused by the proliferation of their products in sachet?

Globally, there have been mounting calls for giant consumer goods manufacturers like Unilever, Nestle and Procter & Gamble to help in the clean up, but sadly, all we ever got were press releases, publicity stunts and other short term gimmicks meant to silence the issue.

Behind their glitzy gimmicks and other programs, sadly, the problem of mounting piles of plastic sachets in our dumps is still there.

Unilever Philippines earlier found an innovative way of recycling where plastic sachets and other rubbish from their plants. Through some kind of emerging technology, it managed to turn such waste into hollow blocks and other construction materials.

Another project involves using sachets and plastic wrappers to fuel machines that produce or process cement without emitting toxic fumes.

Now, that’s something.  Unilever has found a way o transform its sachets from big-time polluter to big time builder through hollow blocks and cement.

Again unfortunately, that’s as far as Unilever, and maybe the other firms went.  All the plastic sachets used in the said undertaking came from their own plants.  How to collect the voluminous used packaging from households has not yet been addressed.

A company official pointed out that compared to other recyclable materials such as cartons, bottles, cans and steel, plastic sachets do not appeal to garbage collectors or your neighborhood scavengers because they do not fetch a good price in junk shops.

Maybe it would be a good idea (and the same has already been proposed to them)  to make sure a large quantity of plastic sachets end up in recycling facilities rather than our highly misused and abused drainage is to entice consumers to collect used sachets which can be used to redeem rebates, discounts or freebies Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Nestle.

A Unilever official, when informed of the idea said that yes, that could be an option, but that they cannot hold promos of that kind year round.

Giant firms may be good in business, but it appears they lack the moral foundation and good corporate citizenship their consumers demand from them.

If they can bombard the airwaves, newspapers, our streets and every other media with aggressive marketing and advertising of their products year round for the sake of profit, why can’t they extend the same effort to protect the environment?

And why is it that most of the countries already reeling from the effects of the sachet revolution are mostly third world and developing countries?

Business analysts even suggested that purchasing your favorite Sunsilk, Colgate, Close-Up, Rexona, Dove, Surf, Clear, Cream Silk and other similar products in sachet is even less economical compared to getting the bigger packages.

But that’s the business side of it and that’s another story.

Currently, millions of plastic sachets and pouches of Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Nestle products are being dumped into waste facilities, drainages, waterways and landfills, where they will stay for many, many years, ready to trigger floods, landslides and mess up our communities.

Solutions have been found, as in the Unilever project of using sachets and plastic wrappers to produce hollow blocks and similar construction materials and fuel machinery that process cement.

What poses as a hurdle, the British –Dutch giant firm claims, is how to collect such waste from households to sustain its recycling efforts.

Unilever officials admitted that it would be too cumbersome and impractical to go from house to house and in the dumps to sort out the waste products.  That we can agree on.

If, however, the manufacturers muster enough concern for the environment even if it creates a tiny dent on profits by offering consumers rewards for collecting and surrendering used sachets  / pouches, we have a fighting chance at arresting this looming problem.

But like what has been said earlier, they cannot afford to have a year round promo for such.

Sigh! It’s like discovering a potential cure for some forms of cancer or AIDS but refusing to make it available to the people only because it may cut your profits.

Such greed and selfishness

They are conveniently aggressive in their marketing and advertising initiatives 24/7, for the sake of profit they can extract from you, but they don’t have the time, nor the interest to protect you and your environment.

Meanwhile, the giant manufacturers vowed that they are still trying to put their heads together to come up with ways to effectively and efficiently collect all those waste from households (even if a feasible idea has already been brought up).  And judging from the way they operate, such a solution may come later, much much later, than sooner, even as their cash registers keep on ringing.

It’s indeed so sad. A sad, small and filthy world.

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