Asia West Pacific

Life after Pati: Making Dreams Happen through Bare Bargains

By Kins Aparece

Opening Day group photo with artisans, artists, Plastic Free Bohol, stall owners, and the Bare Bargains team (Photo: Tet Pepito)

Hedz and Tet are Filipino participants in the 7th International Peace Training in Pati, Indonesia. They are from Bohol and dreamt of contributing to the growing movement on earth care on the island. They have two friends, Charles and Russell, who also wanted to open Bare Bargains hoping to encourage consumers to reduce single-use plastics. They nurtured this dream for over two years, but they found it challenging to take the plunge.

At first, they experimented with a local convenience store by supplying the needed kitchen supplies. However, they faced some problems. The containers they bought were not of food-grade quality, so some of the faucets leaked. They found out that the community also needs to change some habits. People had become used to the convenience of buying things in packet sachets, and asking people to bring their own reusable container was a giant leap. Also, the store was located rather far from the center of the city. The idea of showcasing the store for others to see did not work out. They eventually stopped the venture.

Kitchen supplies in glass containers, Shampoo bars, Zero Waste Products. (Photo: Kins)

The Philippines is the 3rd largest producer of single-use plastics next to China and Indonesia’s highly populous countries. The retail sachet-mentality started in the Philippines over thirty years ago. This replaced the culture of people bringing reusable containers to convenience stores and market stalls to buy kitchen supplies like cooking oil, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and sugar. The big supermarkets’ opening caused many of the convenience stores to close, and the introduction of single-use plastics proliferated.

In Pati, Tet and Hedz learned that one must practice the tools with other friends and just experiment and open up to transforming power to be successful. Coming home, they started again with livelier and more purposeful meetings. They set a timeframe and identified who to ask for help. They invited groups and individuals to display their products in the shop for a minimal fee in order to help pay for the rental of the place. In return, Bare Bargains will consolidate the promotion, marketing, service overheads, and reporting tasks.

Bare Bargains finally opened on October 8, 2020, hosting five supportive artisans, artists, and entrepreneurs. It is the first refillable store in the province of Bohol. They found a solution to the leakage problem but faced problems finding appropriate containers due to COVID. The customers openly give feedback, suggest products or sources, and willingly bring their containers to the shop. The Bare Bargain partners listen eagerly to the feedback and participate in regular meetings with them. Indeed, the dream of having a thriving eco-social hub for the community now becomes a reality.

Note: I am very happy to hear from participants of the International Peace Training in Pati. How did you practice the tools? Please write to Asia.Coordinator@Friendspeaceteams.org Let us share experiences!

The Bare Bargains Team is happy to show the license to operate. from left: Russell, Tet, Hedz (not in Photo: Charles) (Photo: Kins)