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Thinking ‘green’ this holiday

/ 01:43 AM December 05, 2011

With less than a month to go before Christmas, most people are up and about looking for the perfect yet affordable gift to give to their loved ones and friends.

This season also provides us with opportunity to celebrate a “Green Christmas.” Not only may we give out meaningful gestures of love, we can also reduce our carbon footprint on this planet.

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Ecothings is a pioneering group that designs and produces topnotch eco-products using a production process that has the environment as its priority.

This company was founded by Yvonne Palomar-Castro in 1992. It produces planners and notebooks that use 100 percent recyclable materials, such as recycled paper, soy ink and water-based glue.

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“When I was 19, I discovered I was pregnant. Being an undergraduate, a ‘regular’ employment was out of the question. So, I had to turn into an entrepreneur because it was the only choice that would help me provide for my family yet give me time to raise my children and go back to school,” she says in an e-mail sent to the Inquirer.

Yvonne, who is now 41 and a mother of four, stumbled on the idea of producing eco-friendly notebooks when she started doing research work and writing for nongovernment organizations (NGOs) in the early 1990s.

After overcoming her own troubles, Yvonne graduated from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. While she was working for an NGO, she had the opportunity to work with different printing companies. She says that this is where she learned the entire prepress and printing processes.

“I discovered that most printing companies would just do ‘printing’ for their clients often [without] taking into consideration that most clients don’t necessarily have the background on how preproduction should be done,” she explains.

Yvonne then took this as her cue and started offering printing and publication consultancy services.

Since then, her goal has been to produce excellent materials that are “printer-friendly” but are also cost- and time-efficient.

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“Often, I import my own materials just so these will pass the standards of my green advocate clients,” she adds.

The light bulb moment came when she herself received a gift from a friend in the form of environmentally sustainable planners and notebooks.

“I received a notebook which was made from 100 percent recycled post consumer materials. It was made in the USA and costs more than a thousand pesos. I thought that since I am already using recycled paper, why not produce such products here?”

In 2010, La Terre Verte, which means “the Green Earth,” grew roots and sprang to life.

Under La Terre Verte is the brand called “Ecothings” that produces certified environment-friendly printed products. Yvonne says that the people behind Ecothings, among whom are artist Danvic Briones and Judy Malabanan, believe that the Earth, being our only home, is ours to protect.

“It is our responsibility to lessen our individual impact,” she adds.

Banking on the mind-set that Filipino consumers are more conscious of the things they are utilizing, whether these will impact the environment, Yvonne offers quality  “green products” as alternatives to foreign brands.

“Right now, the biggest challenge for us is how to produce world-class products that are affordable for the Philippine market,” she shares.

Yvonne believes that nothing must go to waste and, thus, she has taken it upon herself to educate and encourage companies to use more environmentally responsible materials and services in their printing needs.

“Ecothings is all about green world-class Philippine-made products. We do not simply sell products. We create printed products as well for different companies who would like to make sure that their printed materials are responsibly sourced,” she says.

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TAGS: Business, Ecothings, Entrepreneurship, environment, gifts
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