If our Facebook feeds are any indication, awareness of how our lifestyle choices impact the world is at an all-time high. But as alarming as the glut of news about the state of the environment is, it at least jerks us out of our bubbles enough to want to do better.

On our end as consumers, environmental awareness has facilitated some important changes, and what had started out as minor inconveniences eventually became widely promoted habits. Before, it was refusing plastic bags and choosing to carry purchases in eco bags; currently, it’s about foregoing the use of plastic straws when dining out. While not as widespread yet to manifest significant effects, these lifestyle shifts indicate that the public is at least generally open to minimizing its collective carbon footprint. We all would like to do our share to help dial back the damage that humanity has wreaked on the environment; we just need clear directions on where we can start, given the system we are steeped in that favors fast consumption.

On the other side of the spectrum, more businesses are realizing the appeal of ethical and environmental practices to the market. Among smaller, homegrown brands, it’s becoming more common to see locally made merchandise (with the raw products locally sourced) and social enterprise set-ups as inherent to their business DNAs, and are even used as part of their marketing strategies. Plus, it’s not rare to see these independent producers forming communities in order to make a bigger impact among consumers.

Lack of infrastructure
It’s still not enough, though. As zero waste advocate Jana Bunagan puts it, “there is a lack of infrastructure,” meaning a bigger network of services that can make the practice of conscious consumerism a bit more convenient for everyone.

Bunagan’s own zero waste journey started last year with her website Clover Hartly. “It focused on sustainable living and giving back,” she describes. Quite ahead of its time, especially among Filipinos, Clover Hartly’s aims didn’t quite catch on with the public, and so in January of this year, Bunagan decided to partner with Create Good PH, an online community that holds events to help people decrease their clutter by repurposing “useless” items. “I transferred the initiatives I host under their website and decided to focus on growing that first.

“Sometime in May, I noticed the zero waste movement picking up momentum. So I thought it would be the perfect time to launch a fair that gathers purpose-driven brands.” Thus The Good Trade was born, a community of people and brands that wish to create positive social impact.

Their first big event is The Good Trade fair, to be held this coming weekend (July 21 – 22) at the Bonifacio Global City Central Square, which would gather purpose-driven products and services that local consumers need either to jumpstart or strengthen a more sustainable lifestyle. It would also serve as a platform for the participating small businesses to reach a wider target market, with the fair’s rental rates 50 percent lower than those of other bazaars typically held in the area. “I know from experience how hard it is to transition [for them] because their stores are mostly online—and shipping means generating plastic waste—or their brick and mortar stores are all over the metro.”

All the usual suspects that are featured in sustainable lifestyle-themed events will be there: ethical fashion, vegan skincare, and local food businesses, plus talks and forums for people to participate in. The Good Trade takes it two steps further, though, by including product refill stations, donation drop-offs, and businesses that provide zero-waste products and services.

Ritual, one of the participating businesses at the fair, has long been a proponent of conscious consumerism, working with local communities in selling food items and producing personal care products.

“Organizing the fair has been hard in a way, because these companies are only starting up,” Bunagan admits. “There are some that we really wanted to be part of the fair, but they couldn’t due to financial and manpower constraints.”

Still, the fair has an impressive number of participating businesses. As of press time, there are 35 of them: humble market and Pinkie’s Farm (food); ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, Candid Clothing, Indayog PH, Lumago Designs, Neotiv, Pulseras by Kim, STYLE ISLE, TALA, Twelve PH, and WVN Home Textiles (ethical fashion); Artem Skincare + Apothecary, Daniela Calumba, Got Heart Shop PH, Lana, Luna Maia, Mayumi Organics, Organic Alley, Ritual, The Olie Mixte, Weekend Kids, and Zero Basics (refillables and personal care); Cupping Initiative, Frank Green Philippines, Sip PH, The Simple Trade, Graphic Image, and How Toteful (zero waste products and services); and Alpas Pet Accessories, Milvidas, Meaningful Travels PH, P.S. Crafts with Soul, Vitrum Upcycled Bottles and Crafts, and Woodstuff Ph (cause-driven initiatives).

 

It won’t all be about shopping, though. The Good Trade Fair will host repair and recycling stations for folks who aren’t looking to acquire more stuff but rather prolong the use of what they already own, as well as donation stations for pre-loved items.

There will also be talks and demos that will provide guides on “how to do the hard things right,” as the fair’s briefer puts it:

July 21, 1:30 – 3 p.m.: Capsule Wardrobe + Slow Fashion, hosted by Fashion Revolution

July 21, 3:30 – 5 p.m.: Ecobricking 101, hosted by The Plastic Solution

July 22, 1:30 – 3 p.m.: Sustainable Travel, hosted by Meaningful Travels

July 22, 3:30 – 5 p.m.: Zero-waste + DIY Roller blend, hosted by Artem Skincare

Fair attendees can join all the featured talks for free.

P.S. Crafts with Soul, another participating business, sells arts and crafts products made from upcycled wood.

Correcting misconceptions
Even as there is a lack of infrastructure that lends itself friendly to a zero waste lifetsyle, Bunagan believes that misconception is also a first big hurdle for most, which keeps them from living more sustainably. “Sustainable living is about slow consumption,” she explains. “It means using what you already have. Most of the things we need to live mindfully are things we already own: baunan, tumblers, eco bags.”

The Good Trade was organized to help the public look at the bigger picture of what sustainable living is like. “It’s for people who need to buy things [but] choose to support companies that hold the same values they do,” and these values include ethical business practices, such as paying laborers fair wages and investing in product quality instead of packaging and marketing.

If infrastructure isn’t available yet, at least there’s a community where like-minded people can connect and share tips on how to be more conscientious about consumption. “You’d really have to go out of your way [to practice sustainable living],” Bunagan says. “But there’s a way for everyone to live more sustainably.” Attending this fair could be your first step.

The Good Trade Fair happens this weekend, July 21 – 22, at the Bonifacio Global City Central Square. Visit The Good Trade’s Facebook page for more information.