when green gets greener

And so we live a stone’s throw from a forest reserve. We are forever in awe each time we roll down our car windows and see through the tall trees outside and breathe the fresh forest-y air. And all these happen each time we try to avoid traffic and take the PCARRD shortcut. We may have the worst traffic this side of Laguna, but, we have the best shortcut in the world.

UPLB sits at the foothills of the Mt. Makiling Forest Reserves. It is a science community that is up in arms when conservation and preservation is concerned. The environmental consciousness of the UPLB community is one of the many things that has been very exciting for me.

The municipality of Los Banos has local ordinances for waste segregation and segregated collection, and the use of paper-based packaging for all purchases, except those in the wet market. Small stores use brown paper bags, big grocery chains use recycled boxes, commercial outlets like Jollibee and Handyman have developed paper-based packaging that I haven’t seen elsewhere in compliance to this ordinance.

This policy is hardly propaganda, unlike SM’s green bags that you still need to purchase in order to get points from using them. Not a single commercial establishment will hand you a plastic bag. And if I forget to bring my own bags for grocery shopping, I had to go back to get them or I’d end up with a carton full that I would hardly be able to carry. That’s eco-consciousness at work, not a whim or green agenda, but a daily battle  to conserve and reduce consumption.

We are proud to abide by this policy, but it left us scrambling to recycle plastic bags which we use to line our trash bins. We now find ourselves washing plastic wrapping from meat and fish, hanging them to dry, before folding them for future use.

We also recently acquired new pets–a hundred or so african nightcrawlers, and counting. We housed them in a huge rubber bin and feed them with our food waste and leaf litter. This is our mini-vermicomposting facility that will reduce our household waste by half as we transform them into lovely fertilizer for our plants.

Bicycle stores have seen good business here and there are profitable “bikes for daily/weekly rent” operations for students who could afford less. Or you could walk if you can’t afford to rent a bicycle. Everything you need, you can walk to get to it. That’s how compact our community is.

Younger UPLB professors now utilize the power of email for circulating handouts and other class paraphernalia. In my time, we line up at photocopy shops to get a copy of the following day’s lecture notes. While photocopy services still proliferate, it is relieving to know that most of them buy back recyclable bond paper by the kilo–this could spell out a few hundred bucks for students at the end of each semester.

There’s a lot more that our community can do to lessen deep dark environmental footprints from creeping up everywhere. Merely reducing consumption can go a long way. In our household we try to think of more creative ways to reduce, recreate, simplify and beautify all at the same time. A very long way to go but I’d like to think that we’re off to a good start. Hats off to everyone who’s making all of these wonderful changes possible.

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