‘Wag-wag’ shops cited as champions of sustainable consumption

/ 05:02 AM October 04, 2019

PRE OWNED A group of mothers sifts through a pile of preowned clothes, sold at P20 each, in a “wag-wagan” or “ukay-ukay” shop in Baguio City. —EV ESPIRITU

BAGUIO CITY—The pair of jeans which a family’s youngest child inherited from an older brother and affordable summer dresses sold by the city’s “wag-wagan” (bargain stores for imported secondhand items), got newfound respect as champions of sustainable consumption during a consumers’ congress held here on Tuesday.

Various environmental groups have started reaching out to consumers, believing that a rise in ecologically friendly purchases would discourage big companies from generating products that end up in the world’s landfills, said Sheila Mae Fuentes, founder and chief operating officer of online shopping platform Forth Co.


Millennial market

By planning out a wardrobe that could be used for various occasions, families can extend the lifespan of garments manufactured and sold by the fashion market, which has been categorized as “one of the most pollutive industries in the world,” she said. The textile industry produces 1.2 billion tons of carbon per year, she said.


“Most of our clothing are made from polyester which takes up to 200 years to decompose. Check your labels, you will see most of the garments are forms of polyester or plastic,” Fuentes said. “When we wash them, we end up producing microplastics, which end up in the oceans, that are consumed by fish and affect the quality of our seafood.”

“About 7,000 liters of water are needed to produce a pair of jeans—equivalent to the water an individual drinks in five to six years,” she said, adding that the 2,700 liters consumed in 900 days is also the amount of water required to produce a shirt.

The growing millennial market is attuned to the climate crisis, and has incorporated the welfare of the planet’s condition in buying decisions, Fuentes said.

Old school

They are the new consumers for which companies should now shape their products, given that a survey conducted in 2018 by research firm, Nielsen, indicated that 81 percent of its global respondents preferred “environmentally responsive” products, she said.

But few Filipinos understand the scope of the “sustainable consumption” movements, she said. Most advocates frame the idea of sustainable purchases with the campaign against plastic coffee cups and straws.

“However, old school has become the best school for teaching sustainable consumption,” said lawyer Samuel Gallardo of Abra province.


He said buying used clothes or wearing “hand-me-downs” would help reduce pollution.

Household waste represents 42 percent of daily trash, said Ann Claire Cabochan, assistant secretary for consumer protection of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Most waste generated by homes are discarded food, so part of the government’s sustainable consumption program is to teach households how to properly apportion the food cooked during mealtimes. —VINCENT CABREZA

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TAGS: Baguio City, bargain stores, imported secondhand items, wag-waga
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