For every successful businessman, there is a smart ‘earth-friendly’ woman. I am talking about Evansuenda O. Quiamco, Ernesto’s wife and the mistress of Fortune Mart. Everyone fondly calls her ‘Inday’.
When Fortune Mart announced their ‘Wednesdays Are Paper Bag Days’, I was very pleased simply because now, a local business has taken the first step, on its own, to reduce the number of throw-away plastic bags without waiting for a city ordinance or regulation. Right then, I decided I would write a news article about this wonderful program for our local papers, so I asked to meet with Ernie. We chatted over coffee and when I asked him how he came to this decision, he said, “You have to talk to Inday because this is really her idea, not mine.”
Inday maybe a quiet person but in her heart, she’s always cared for the environment — like a silent ‘eco-warrior’. She and Ernie have made several trips locally and abroad and it’s in these travels that Inday observed how other establishments were helping our Mother Earth. She noticed the paper bags used in grocery and department stores. She also noticed customers bringing their own shopping bags. She noticed that in these stores, there were no plastic bags available at the checkout stand. “Hmm…”, she mused, “Why not?” So Inday & Ernie ironed out the logistics for this program, posted notices at their store and in local papers and finally on February 2, 2010, ‘Wednesdays Are Paper Bag Days” at Fortune Mart was born. At their checkout stand, all you would see are different sized paper bags. Carton boxes were also made available for those who asked for it.
I visited Fortune Mart around 10AM on that Feb. 2nd and stayed for about 2 hours observing at the checkout stand, taking some photos and seeing if customers complained. I was surprised not to hear a single complaint. Their goods were bagged in paper and off they went like it was the usual. One woman even said, “maayo baya ni nga programa apan nganong once a week ra man?”
Some of you may have noticed that Fortune Mart sells a very practical reusable canvas shopping bag (colored green, of course) for P35 (not P60-P95 like other stores). Ernie & Inday laughingly lamented that, “nahurot dayon among first batch of bags apan dili nila dad-on kay ma-usik kono.” But not like this happy lady pictured on the right. She was ready with her Fortune Mart bag. Notice the carton boxes.
It has now been 2 months and Inday told me that positive responses are running as high as 95%. She and Ernie are now thinking of expanding to 3 times a week (M-W-F). I suggested that maybe, an incentive be given to those who bring their own reusable shopping bags. This will help in making it a habit. Inday was ahead of me. She was already thinking of having a point system every time a customer uses their own recyclable bag. After a certain number of points, the customer will earn a discount. I hope to see all these plans implemented soon.
Some stats: every Wednesday, on average 2,900 paper bags of varying sizes are used. That’s 2,900 throw-away plastics bags NOT polluting our Mother Earth – 11,600 per month or 139,200 per year. This is just for one day a week. Think about that next time you have your purchases wrapped in plastic bags. Inday was quick to remind me that they did not count those customers that asked for carton boxes instead or those that brought their own shopping bags. The figures could potentially be higher. The FM staff also noticed that on other days, many customers bring their own bags and some even ask for paper bags instead of plastic — a clear indication of the level of awareness the program has instilled into the community.
Kudo’s to Inday for this earth-friendly program and to Fortune Mart for embracing such! The Friends of the Environment in Negros Oriental (FENOr) thanks you. If Fortune Mart can do it… So, we call on other businesses to follow. And may I ask, “Where are we now with the Dumaguete City plastics regulation ordinance?”
Let us all pitch in for Mother Earth. Follow Fortune Mart’s lead. Next time you go shopping, bring your own reusable shopping bag. Remember, whenever we help our planet, we are really helping ourselves!