Traveling Ethically in the Philippines: Shopping Local and Sustainably at ECHOstore
Gelaine and I first discovered the social enterprise scene in the Philippines over a year ago. We were surprised to see how many social enterprises and products there were in Philippines compared to the US and Canada. It wasn't long before we became inspired to start ChooseSocial.PH, a website dedicated to Filipino social enterprises. This, in turn, inspired us to start Cambio Market.
What a good decision that was! For the first time, we were finally able to really see, touch and smell all these social enterprise products that we had heard so much about. To visit an actual "in-person" retail store with such a large variety of ethical products made locally is truly impressive. While Cambio Market does sell Filipino social enterprise products such as Olivia & Diego Upcycled Jewelry and Good Paper Handcrafted Cards, there are tons that we aren’t (yet!) able to include in our shop (shipping food products overseas is a tad difficult!).
You'll have to visit the ECHOstore for yourself if/when you come to Philippines, but in the meantime, feast your eyes on photos from our visit :)
The entrance to the store!
Go Squeaky Clean: Shelf of Messy Bessy cleaning products - all safe, natural, and without chemicals. To double their impact, they also employ and provide training to at-risk young adults In the Philippines. They even have a Messy Baby line for all natural baby products.
Fair trade and organic food: Gelaine exploring the food products (of course!). Their selection isn't huge but it's big enough to have a few good picks. They sell fair trade and organic rice, teas, spices, and ice cream (yum!).
Our purchases! All beautifully wrapped up with recycled magazine pages. We thought that was a nice touch.
Theo & Philo Filipino chocolate: We got two types of dark chocolates: green mango & sea salt and siling labuyo (a small chili pepper in the Philippines). Philippines grows cacao trees and is capable of producing their own chocolate, though sadly the country imports the majority of its chocolate (and from countries that don't even grow cacao trees!). Theo & Philo is a social enterprise aims to raise awareness and promote Filipino-made chocolate using local Filipino flavours and ingredients.
Coffees for a Cause: We had never heard of Coffees for a Cause, but we were pleasantly surprised to find Filipino coffee, which is something I had been trying to find since we arrived. While the Philippines is able to produce coffee, they produce very little and import most of their domestic consumption (which is an issue that happens in multiple sectors of their agriculture sector, such as chocolate).
Nature to Nurture: Gelaine's sister is having a baby (!) so we bought this all natural & baby safe dish wash for baby bottles, from Nature to Nurture. They have several other natural care products (but there's only so much we can fit in our luggage. Sad).
Minka & the Toothbrush Movement: We bought all natural bamboo toothbrushes from a social enterprise named Minka. They work with local co-operatives and communities in Ilo-Ilo to source their bamboo and donate 10% of every purchase to Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines. Their toothbrushes come in both adult and kid sizes (we accidentally bought the kid's edition instead but that won't stop us from using them).
If you travel through the Philippines, stop by one of the ECHOstore branches across the country, which you can give as pasalubong (Tagalog word for gift/souvenir to friends and family)! Your purchase will help local social enterprises strengthen their social impact and you will enjoy great quality products!