Friday, July 06, 2007

Burying buri bags

MUCH noise has been heaped against the ubiquity of plastic bags for dumping garbage and groceries into. Earth-friendly noisemakers want buri bags to replace plastic bags; they even mount rallies and ply lots of sound and fury nudging supermarket chains, convenience stores, and establishments like that to go buri.

Dumping plastic in favor of buri or bamboo cane bags can start up the beginnings of a home yard-based packaging industry in the countryside. That means a lot of unskilled idle hands suddenly hauled into an assembly line for turning up quantities of a familiar carry-all bag. Jobs aside, rural economies can be revved up. We have pipe dreams like that that awaits going into the pipeline.

Supermarket chains and grocery stores aren’t giving up yet on plastic bags. Our earth-friendly noisemakers can howl some more at the moon and the stars. Or do lobotomies on (maybe brain ‘em) supermarket chain or convenience store moguls and grocers who’ll hang on to plastic bags-- that can also be useful for less hurtful suicide via slow asphyxiation.

Enterprising lawmakers in both local and national government levels might craft a proposal or two in aid of legislation for an outright ban on plastic bags— or with the view to send pro-plastic lobbyists into sopping such lawmakers with significant sums to quash an anti-plastic measure.

Or the lawmakers can turn up measures that can provide subsidies—off taxpayers’ pockets, of course—to grocers and retailers who’ll opt to ditch plastic bags and patronize the Pinoy-made bayong, tiklis, kaing or any of its design permutations.

Plastic bags are eyesores; they won’t rot so they stay with you forever clogging drains, canals and waterways. Choking up soil, too. Plastic bags are also handy. They don’t take up much storage space. And quite dirt-cheap fetching less than P5 each for a size suitable to hold up to five kilos of groceries.

Sure, only in America are grocers packing groceries in thick brown paper bags. Pinoys love plastic in this neck of the woods, eh?

As of late, a Filipino biotechnology outfit is wracking its brains to turn up microorganisms that can eat up plastic in a bid to rid the Philippine landscape of eyesores.

As yet, no designer or ergonomics-inclined geek among Pinoys has given much thought at reinventing or re-designing buri bags—kaing, bayong, tiklis, whatever. Or even turning up gadgets for easier, cheaper fabrication to match if not surpass plastic bag’s dirt-cheap price.

Bayong na parang jeepney—a travesty of sound ergonomics, design economy and safety—pero hindi na talaga binago’t inayos ang tarantadong kupal na disenyo.

Say, most plastic is derived from naphtha which, in turn, comes from crude oil. On the other hand, buri, bamboo, rattan, karagumoy, ragiwdiw, nito fern, and an abundance of such materials that go into the making of bayong can be culled off forests and the rural landscape. We’re talking of an inexhaustible, renewable supply chain.

There’s lucrative business in the bayong, mind you. Product engineers, design wizards and similar local bipeds ought to give the carry-all item another look. A good try at reinvention, innovation and redesign, if only to pump down noise levels of Filipinoise-makers nudging grocers to patronize an earth-friendly alternative.

Now, that’s a man-sized challenge that ought to be taken pronto.

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