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1 percent less plastic: These students are saving us from the pitfalls of our online shopping craze

What started out as simply a tasking college practicum requirement, now stands as an environmental initiative to better the e-commerce waste management in the country. 

There’s no denying how the popularity of e-commerce skyrocketed during the pandemic. With its corresponding convenience and affordable alternatives, we are caught in the dead of the night waiting for that 5.5, 9.9, or 12.12 (and probably everything in between) sale to drop, and check out every possible purchase, or budols,  that have been eyeing us from our online carts. 

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Back in 2020, during the height of the pandemic and regulated lockdowns, Shopee, at its 12.12 sale, sold 12 million items in less than 30 minutes, while Lazada, during its 11.11 sale, sold 1 million items in a single hour. 

Shortly after being spectators of the products that landed at our doors, “it only takes 12 minutes for a plastic packaging to move from [our] hands to the bin.”, as stated by Greenpeace Philippines in an article by INQUIRER.net back in 2021. 

This is where Lyanne Sy, Andrea Bugarin, Janna Pablo, Timothy Oscaris, and Jericho Lo, 4th-year Entrepreneurship majors from De La Salle University Manila, breathed 1% by LUNTIAN (Lunas ang Tinig ng Animo), a Zero Waste packaging store that offers an alternative bubble wrap that can decompose in as fast as 180 days, into life.

“This is a challenge the five of us are willing to take as entrepreneur students because even if it is such a minimal value at a national level, it is one step closer into making a difference in our country. Every child wishes to make a difference, and the 5-inner-children in us motivate us to offer this valuable movement in our community.”

1% Compostable Kraft Bubble Mailer

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Just like any student who can’t seem to get past the initial stage of coming up with the perfect proposal, it only took the team behind LUNTIAN to figure out that all they had to do was literally look in the mirror. 

“Some of us in the group were actually online sellers even before the pandemic and one of our common struggles is really the time-consuming packaging process, especially during double-day sales. Making it  [bubble mailers] 100% compostable will make it even more of an advantage for online sellers because honestly, it makes us feel so guilty not knowing where the layers and layers of bubble wrap and plastic tape end up. ” Lyanne Sy said in an interview with POP! 

Realizing that something had to be done to better the environmental sustainability in businesses, especially in e-commerce platforms, LUNTIAN used materials like Kraft Paper, a naturally biodegradable material, where its decomposition process is similar to that of leaves, water-based ink for their packaging’s external layer, and a sugarcane-based ethanol adhesive that’s non-toxic, affordable, and a 100% biodegradable. While the bubble sheet is made from organic materials like cornstarch, renewable biomass, and natural acids. 

After six to nine months of rigorous research to ensure that their business is feasible in the market, LUNTIAN, together with their partner, who cannot be named due to a Non-Disclosure Agreement, certified the Philippines’ first-ever compostable bubble mailer. 

Now just like us, you may be curious as to what is the meaning behind their product designation: “1%” embodies the team’s goal as a startup to hit their target number of DTI registered e-businesses in the country, which according to their study is 750 entities out of 75,000, to utilize their product.

As of writing, and per LUNTIAN’s estimate, their Bubble Mailers has already reached 657 customers that range from small and medium enterprises. 

The Price of Sustainability 

Truth be told, purchasing sustainable alternatives is expensive and may not be “sustainable” for everyone’s pockets.  But it can be done. Ultimately, it should be a genuine collaboration and accountability to the problem that should come from those who maneuver the marketthe government and the private corporations. Although we are not short of ideas to innovate and better small ways in our lifestyle, it’s up to those who contribute the biggest to make the scale of our solutions bigger and more accessible to all.    

Sustainability is not meant to be beautiful, it’s about making what we have last. But with modernity, it’s almost impossible to just stop people from adapting and enjoying the convenience it brings.

This is where innovations like 1% by LUNTIAN come into the picture.

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Acknowledging the fact that the gap in terms of the prices between commercially produced plastic versus its sustainable alternatives can make changes like this intimidating, the 5-man team said that they are trying their best to convey the message of their advocacy using a language that the majority online can understand. 

“We want to instill trust and solid steps towards a long-term change and with the 1% goal, we may not be able to cater to a lot of people at this time, but there’s 99% more to go through.”   

You can know more about 1% by LUNTIAN on their official Facebook page and purchase their products via their Shopee store

 

 

 

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