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close this bookIdeas for Action : Save, Recycle and Do Not Pollute (IIRR, 1992, 146 p.)
close this folderConsumer guides
View the documentGuide to environment-friendly shopping
View the documentCommonly used household-products which are dangerous and safer alternatives
View the documentEcotourism
View the documentGetting to know chlorofluorocarbons- (CFC) and their alternatives
View the documentHerbal medicines from nature (Department of Health-Approved)

Guide to environment-friendly shopping

Every Filipino citizen who purchases products can make a choice about what he does or does not buy. A citizen who makes a conscious decision to buy products which have a positive impact on the environment and not to buy products which are harmful to the environment is commonly called a GREEN CONSUMER.

It is important to remember that, as a consumer, an individual has the power to bring about change. The adage, the customer is always right, takes on a new meaning as related to the idea of purchasing environment-friendly products. Most commercial advertisings on TV and radio and in magazines and newspapers do not always promote environment friendly shopping. Business is business and business people will provide products if shoppers ask for it. Filipino shoppers must begin to create a demand for environment-friendly products so that more of these products are teeing 'offered for sale by businesses.

Guide to environment-friendly shopping

One important consideration for green consumers is to reduce the number of wasteful products you buy. Here are some tips to consider

· RECYCLE! Recycling is an energy-saving, cost-saving and waste-saving strategy that - anyone can do. Recycle, whenever possible.

· Buy products such as aluminum and glass that you can recycle in your own community. Buy products which contain recycled materials. For example, many products such as aluminum cans, writing paper', etc., contain recycled materials. Recycling is not new to the Filipino citizenry, but this habit must be strengthened and enhanced. '

· Buy only what you need. Buying products which you will not use is not only wasteful, but costly.

· Do not buy or use products that endanger your health or the health of others, such as aerosol cans which emit CFCs that deplete or destroy the atmospheric ozone.

· Find or create ecologically sound alternatives to petroleum-based packaging and household products. Do not- use chemical pesticides to control pests in the home; prepare alternative pesticides for the home. (See topics on Alternatives to Pesticides and Pesticide Management in the Home.)

Do not use products which emit CFCs

· A void purchasing products which are teased on materials taken from threatened environment or endangered species (for example: mahogany, teak, sea turtles).

· A void unnecessary packaging. Buy in bulk, whenever possible, to minimize packaging and save money. Buy liquid products such as juices in concentrates.

· Take your own reusable shopping basket to the grocery store. Consolidate purchases in one bag rather than several. Avoid using plastic bags which YOU will just throw away.

· Invest in reusable plastic containers for storing food rather than wrapping them in disposable plastic wraps.

· Avoid buying disposable products. Reduce the use of plastic plates, utensils and polystyrene cups. Use cloth towels and napkins instead of paper napkins and towels. Consider switching from disposable diapers to cloth diapers Avoid buying disposable cameras, flashlights end other new products. Replace daily-use items such as lighters, pens and razors with better-quality, refillable models.

· Minimize the use of products with- toxic ingredients. If you do have to buy them, make sure they are disposed of properly. Do not throw them out with the trash! (See related topic: Commonly Used Household Products Which Are Dangerous and Safer Alternatives.)

· Read the label to know the contents of a product. However, use caution -- Not all labels provide accurate and sufficient information.

No plastic bags

Ideas for Action:

A Technology Information Kit November 23 - 28, 1992

Commonly used household-products which are dangerous and safer alternatives

Over 55,000 chemicals are contained in commonly used convenience products and over 1,000 more come on the market each year. Most are untested and unregulated. Many present serious health threats and leave their mark on the environment for several generations. The use of household or garden pesticides, for example, can increase the chance of childhood leukemia sevenfold, according to research studies.

Many cleaning products commonly used in our homes may be hazardous to our health and to the environment.

Some common home toxics are: ammonia-based cleaners, disinfectants, window cleaners, floor cleaners, shoe polish, furniture polish, metal polish with solvent, car wax with solvent, paint brush cleaner, wood preservative, varnish.

Look at labels for key word, like poison, danger, warning and caution.

Luckily, with home products, we can choose to reduce our exposure to many hazards. Making your own cleaners is the best and often cheapest alternative to hazardous cleaning products. Here is a list of some recipes for home cleaners that would not harm the earth.

Safe household products

Here are a few inexpensive common household basics that are effective and safe for many cleaning needs. They can replace most formulated brand items that are hazardous and overpriced:

Baking Soda: Common baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an all-purpose cleaner that removes odors and can be used as a polish, for cleaning teeth, even as an antacid. It is mildly abrasive, noncorrosive and safe to ingest. Baking soda is a strong cleaner that can be used on the oven, greasy clothes, car engine and as a foot bath.

Beeswax: You-can add melted beeswax to mineral oil to make a natural and durable furniture polish.

Borax: Ordinary powdered borax is effective as a light cleaner and for removing odors and preventing the growth of mold. You can find it in the supermarket laundry section. It is harmful if swallowed, however; keep it out of the reach of children.

Calamansi juice: At full strength or sometimes diluted, calamansi juice is an excellent cleaner and grease cutter-used by itself or in combination with other ingredients.

Mineral oil: A safe and odor-free petroleum oil, it works well as a wood and furniture polish. Mildly laxative c if ingested in small quantities, it can also be used to clean greasy hands. It is available in pharmacies.

Puresoap (Perla): blade without additives, bar or flake soap is gentle, effective cleaner for many -uses.

Vinegar: Common white vinegar is excellent at cutting grease, removing odors and preventing the growth of mold. Vinegar acts as an antiseptic: cleans mildew (add salt), toilet, windows, floors and kills ants.

Dishsoap: is a mild cleaner, can be used for: dishes, woolens, bathroom tub, tiles and toilet, windows, floors and-your car.

Cooking oil can be used to polish leather, wood, floors and furniture (add vinegar for furniture).


The Problem: Replace ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), anew generation of propellants which contain butane, isobutane and propane that laboratory studies show to be harmful to the heart and central nervous system.

The Solution: Do not buy aerosol cans.. If a spray is necessary, get a pump dispenser. (And you can save old pump dispensers to use when mixing your own cleaners.)

All purpose cleaners

The Problem: Many contain ammonia (which attacks your lungs? and chlorine (which forms cancer-causing compounds). Mixed together, they form a deadly chloramine gas.

The Solution: You can make your own light-duty cleaner by mixing 1/4 cup of liquid soap (such as Murphy's Oil Soap) or borax in a quart of hot water and adding a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to cut grease. Mix two teaspoons of borax and one teaspoon of soap in one quart of water for a cleaner you can store in a spray bottle.

Air fresheners

Commercial fresheners work by masking smells, coating nasal passages and deadening nerves to diminish the sense of smell;

· Find sources of odors and eliminate them; keep house and closets clean and well-ventilated; grow lots of house plants.

· To absorb odors, place two to four tablespoons of baking soda or vinegar in small bowls in the refrigerator and around the house and pour 1/2 cup of baking soda in the bottom of trash cans.

· For natural fragrance, boil sweet herbs and spices and allow the aroma to fill the air.

· Use ammonia only when other cleaners would not do the trick. Ammonia cuts heavy grease and grime,, but can be dangerous. Fumes irritate eyes and lungs and can be harmful to people with respiratory problems. Always provide good ventilation. Never mix ammonia with bleach or commercial cleansers; deadly fumes may form.


The Problem: Most contain highly toxic chemicals-such as ammonia, chlorine, cresol and phenol, whose fumes can even leak through the container.:

The Solution: Baking soda on a damp sponge will clean most surfaces, nooks, and crannies; an open box in a refrigerator deodorizes the air inside for up to three months. Use white vinegar or fresh lemon juice either full strength or diluted half and half with water. Another effective disinfectant is 1/2 cup borax mixed in one gallon hot water.

· For a hospital-quality disinfectant, use 1/4 cup of borax dissolved in 1/2 gallon of hot water. Keeping surfaces clean and dry reduces the need for disinfectants.

Scouring powder

The Problem: They contain chlorine, detergents and tale.

The Solution: Buy a chlorine-free brand such as Bon Ami (made of feldspar and soap) or make your own mix of table salt (or baking soda) -sprinkled on a sponge that has been moistened with equal parts of water and vinegar. You can also apply liquid soap to a surface and sprinkle with dolomite powder. Scour with steel wool. For safe bleaching add a pinch of sodium perborate.

· If available, buy powder without chlorine, colors, detergents, or talc; or scrub with a sponge or fine bristled brush, soap and one of the following: baking soda, borax or table salt.


The Problem: It contains chlorine, detergents, synthetic dyes and fragrance and hydrogen peroxide; Particularly dangerous if you mix it with ammonia.

The Solution: There's no single "magic" product. In some cases (such as cleaning wood surfaces), you can use lemon juice or vinegar. In other cases, washing with natural soap and drying clothes in sunlight make bleaching unnecessary.

- Substitute 1/2 cup of borax per washload to whiten whites and brighten colors. If needed, occasionally use powdered, nonchlorine bleach.


Add 1/3 cup of washing soda to water before placing clothes in machine and substitute soap flakes or- powder for detergent. Detergents are made from artificial chemicals and are not biodegradable.- When-making the initial switch from a detergent to a soap laundry cleaner, wash items once with washing soda only. This will eliminate detergent residues that might otherwise react with -soap to cause yellowing of fabrics. Add 1/2 cup of borax for additional cleaning powder. If you have hard water, use a phosphate-free detergent.

Dry cleaning

· Buy items you can wash or clean on your own. Most dry cleaning solvents, such as perchlorethylene, are toxic. If you must dry clean, air out clothing thoroughly before bringing indoors.


- Soak heavily soiled items in warm wafer with 1/2 cup of washing soda for 30 minutes. Rub soiled areas with liquid soap.

Spray starch

· Dissolve two tablespoons of cornstarch in one pint of cold water in a spray bottle. Shake before each use For delicate fabrics, dissolve one package of unflavored gelatine; or add two tablespoons of granulated sugar to two cups of hot water. Dip corner of fabric into solution to test if fabric becomes sticky when dry add more water:

Silver polish

· Submerge silver in water containing aluminum (foil) and salt. Wait a few minutes, remove and wipe dry. Tarnish should be gone.

Copper and brass polish

· Rub with tomato juice.

· Make a paste of calamansi juice and cream of tartar. Apply, leave on for five minutes and then rinse;

Ideas for Action:

A Technology Information Kit November 23 - 28, 1992


Ecotourism is nature tourism. It is traveling to a relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural area with the specific objective of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wildlife as well as any existing cultural manifestations found in the area.

Ecotourism is an exciting new adventure that combines the pleasures of discovering and understanding the diversity of both flora and fauna with the opportunity to contribute to their protection and to provide an economic justification for conservation of areas that might not receive any protection.

Ecotourism or nature tourism aims to educate both local and foreign tourists on the environment and to promote conservation strategies. The education component consists of an orientation of the place-its origins and features, threats and problems encountered, current efforts to manage the resources and a tour to the designated area. The tour provides a first hand experience of communing with nature even for a short period of time.

Ecotourism is a response that seeks to reduce the negative environmental and cultural impacts of mass or traditional tourism.

Nature tourism combines the elements of science recreation, adventure and sports. It has three dimensions -the hard, soft end hard-soft tourism. Hard tourism refers to the interest in natural history or research travel. Soft tourism is nature-oriented with interest in beaches, nightlife, deep sea fishing, shopping, culinary pursuits and other attractions. Hard-soft tourism deals with physical rigors, walking miles into the forest, sleeping in tents or in crude shelters and tolerating primitive sanitary conditions.


Potential sites for ecotourism

· The site must have unique natural features, such as landscapes, seascapes, caves, etc.

· The site must have a rich and diverse flora and fauna or biological diversity.

· The site can be an ancient burial ground or a historical site.

· The site must be seldom visited but must have a high ecological value.

Code of ethics for action

1. Observe but do not disturb natural systems.

· Move quietly and carefully m natural areas so as not to disturb the plants and animals.

· Respect wildlife and nature. Never pick, gather, write on or destroy plants and animals and/or rocks, etc. Leave them clean and undisturbed.

· Avoid using recordings or loud noises.

· Do not disturb wildlife during sensitive periods, e.g., mating season. spaces

· Follow only existing trails.

· Use gas stoves in areas where fuelwood is scarce.

· Observe all rules and regulations established for the area.

· Always coordinate spaces for cooking, eating, camping, washing, bathing and other activities with the community or area.

· The highest compliment you can pay mother nature is to leave no evidence of your visit.

2. Minimize your impact on the environment.

· Leave no litter, plastic, charcoal, etc. Always carry a trash bag for your litter. Deposit trash in duly designated places.

· Use provided toilet facilities. If no toilets are available, carry a trowel to bury waste and a lighter/match to burn toilet paper. Never dispose of human waste within 25 meters of water source.

· Use biodegradable, coco-based soaps.

· Leave at home extra packaging for food, film, toiletries, etc.

· Do not consume or purchase plant or animal products that are endangered, overexploited and/or harvested - from unmanaged wild populations.

· Do not build campfires where wood is scarce.

· Only use the resources necessary; avoid over consumption, such as water.

3. Act directly to accomplish conservation of natural resources.

· Pick up trash left behind by other people.

· Join conservation organizations.

· Support local resource management efforts.

· Donate/support environmental conservation efforts.

· Organize lectures/seminars and exposure trips on the environment for schools, offices and communities. Schools can incorporate ecotourism in their curriculum -- students can conduct activities outdoors such as bird-watching, snorkling, etc.

· Write letters to government officials -- Be a personal witness against negative environmental trends with which you have experienced.

· Do not patronize individuals, groups, organizations, etc., which consciously violate environmental regulations and principles.

4. Respect local cultures.

· Employ local residents as tour guides.

· Research and learn about the customs, habits, history, concern, as well as the dialect of the place you are going to.

· Learn and observe proper local etiquette for greeting, eating and dealing with people of the community.

· Take photographs within the guidelines of the area you are visiting -- Respect privacy requests.

· Do not wear loud/bold colored clothing or jewelry if you do not fully understand its cultural and/or ritual significance. Dress conservatively and neatly as possible.

· Do not criticize or make unnecessary comments on the cultural practices of the people in the area.

Suggested guidelines

· The ecotour or nature tour must be well-guided. A knowledgeable tour guide is necessary to provide utmost education to tourists about culture, topography, special attractions of the area, protection of the environment, restricted and danger zones as well as the peace and order situation of the area and the necessary precautions.

The tour guide is responsible for an enjoyable, safe and nondestructive nature tour.

· Involve local residents in the planning and implementation of activities. The presence of tourists in the community may not be well-appreciated and may not benefit the local people. The local people must be part of the management of the activities. If there is not enough involvement, an antagonistic relationship may happen.

· Limit participation of the group to a minimum of four to a maximum of 20 people. This is to ensure that the needs of every individual are met. It is easier to manage a small group. Too many people may disturb or destroy natural habitats.

· Ecotourism organizers should provide an adequate and continuous program for resource management. Tour organizers should play a lead role in managing natural resources in the forms of trail maintenance and signs, information on the endemic' endangered and extinct species, research and education, trainings and provision of basic facilities.

· Tour destination should be appropriate for the needs of the tourists. The destination must be first assessed for a better itinerary of the trip and be equipped with the necessary logistical requirements, e.g, map, compass, etc.

Current efforts toward the conservation/preservation of natural resources are hampered by conflicting uses that are justified because they produce economic benefits (e.g., agriculture and logging). Recently, tourism has been suggested as a means of linking environmental conservation with income and livelihood generation for local communities. Unfortunately, tourism has a number of negative side affects. Ecotourism is a response that seeks to reduce the negative environmental and cultural impacts of mass tourism.


Ecotourism: The Potentials and Pitfalls. Vol. I by Elizabeth Boo.

Code of Ethics for Nature and Culture Travelers by Earth Preservation Fund Journeys International, Inc.

Ideas for Action:

A Technology Information Kit, November 23 - 28, 1992

Getting to know chlorofluorocarbons- (CFC) and their alternatives

The ozone layer in the earth's upper atmosphere acts as a natural filter which absorbs the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) deplete the ozone layer. Slight reductions (by as little as a few percent) in the ozone level allow more ultraviolet radiation to reach the earth's surface: This can lead to increasing number of health problems, including sunburn, skin cancer, cataract, ageing, etc. Natural processes slow down, including the plant photosynthesis and plant germination. Algae and larvae can get killed and upset marine ecology, affecting fish population.

CFCs are laboratory products that have become widely. used throughout the world. These compound -chemicals are nontoxic and would not ignite. As refrigerants, they help cool our homes, workplaces, recreation centers and vehicles. They clean computer chips and are used in the production of plastic foams as insulation materials. CFCs are commonly used in aerosol propellants and solvents, as well as in modern sterilization processes of medical equipment and instruments. CFCs are also found in fire extinguishers.


How to reduce CFC's.

· Prevent and repair leaks from air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers.

· Enhance skills of technicians in the proper handling and maintenance of junked and serviceable refrigerators and air conditioners.

· Encourage hospitals to refrain from using CFC sterilants

· Do not burn or puncture aerosol cans.

· Avoid using fire extinguishers which contain Halon- 1301 or Halon- 1211. (Read the label.)

· Do not burn styrofoam and plastics. Reduce dependence on materials made from plastic and styrofoam. Re-use existing materials instead of buying new ones.

· Use caution and handle solvents properly.

Alternatives to CFC's

· Use recycled paper products instead of styrofoam for insulating air-conditioned rooms.

· Use fire extinguishers which do not contain Halon active ingredients. Better still, use other means for fire fighting, where possible.

· Use traditional practices of using steam or autoclave in the sterilization of surgical equipment.

· Re-adopt commonly used materials for packaging or equipment and utensils for storing and handling foods. CFCs have only been recently introduced, so alternatives previously existed.

Actions we can do against CFC

· Avoid purchasing and making materials and equipment containing CFCs.

· Take part in active information and education campaigns against the use of CFCs.

· Lobby congress and other policymakers to ban materials and equipment made of or containing CFCs.


Naar, John. Design for a Liveable Planet. 1990.
Caplan, Ruth and Environmental Action. Our Planet, Ourselves. 1990.

Herbal medicines from nature (Department of Health-Approved)

The Philippine drug industry is foreign-dominated with 70 percent of the industry being controlled by transnational corporations (TNCs), 25 percent owned by Marcos cronies and the remaining: 5 percent by local industry. The compounded cost to importation of raw materials, as well as with the active advertising cost of drugs, contributes to the soaring price of drugstore medicine.

People are spending so much money on commercially-prepared medicine for pain relief, cough and cold preparations, for fever, skin treatment and other popular medications. Yet, all these have their equivalents in herbal medicine or medicinal 'plants. Herbal medicines are' much safer and cheaper alternative to drugstore medicine.

The government's Department of Health, with its proposed Traditional Medicine Service Unit, will be the one actively promoting clinically-proven herbal medicines The list and their uses include the following:


Table (continued)


5. Ulasimang bato (Peperomia pellucida) -- for anti-inflammatory:

· Eat the leaves as salad or boil 2 handful of leaves in 2 glasses of water for 15 minutes; cool, drain and divide the decoction in 3 parts and drink each part after meals.

Ulasimang bato (root)

Ulasimang bato (leaf)

Some general tips in the preparation and use of herbal medicines:

1. Use clay pot/enamel-layered pot/iron pot in preparing herbal medicine; never use aluminum pot because aluminum causes deterioration of the active components of the herbs.

2. Never apply pesticides nor commercial fertilizers in cultivating herbal/medicinal plants.

3. Take the necessary precaution in buying and using/processing medicinal plants especially in decoctions for its safety. (The possibility of contamination is highly considered.)

4. Single preparations are much better than multiple ones; other herbal medicines have shown little effects if prepared in multiple.

5. Not all known: medicinal plants are beneficial; others have doubtful or harmful effects, e.g.; makabuhay can possibly cause sterility; garlic, if taken raw, can possibly cause cancer.

6. If herbal medicine and its components are being used as food, then it is almost always safe for its medicinal value, e.g., malunggay leaves are good for skin infection and head lice; ginger is good for arthritic pain; guava leaves are good for wounds and as oral antiseptic.


Maramba, et al. Manwal sa Paggamit ng Halamang Gamot. 2nd Edition, NSTA. 1981.

Personal Communication with Dr. Romeo Quijano, Pharmacologist, UP College of Medicine, Manila.

Health Alert. Special Issue, 116-117.

Ideas for action:

A Technology Information Kit, November 23 - 28, 1992