Los Banos Banned Plastic 10 Years Ago – Here’s What We Can Learn From Them

Article by Jesh Orquina

Freedom Park

Los Baños has long been known for its buko pie, fresh dairy, and green fields. But what most non-locals don’t know is that Los Baños is actually one of the municipalities that have greatly contributed to taking care of Mother Nature. The municipality has taken a lot of steps to take care of the environment, but perhaps the most impressive is how they managed to successfully reduce the use of plastic over the past decade.

Taking The First Step

Los Baños started its journey on plastic reduction way back in 2008, making it the very first municipality in the whole country to regulate the use of plastic. The Municipal Ordinance No. 2008-752 “An Ordinance Prohibiting The Use of Plastic Bags on Dry Goods and Regulating Its Utilization on Wet Goods and Prohibiting The Use of Styrofoam in The Municipality of Los Baños and Prescribing Penalties Thereof” was implemented during Mayor Caesar Perez’s term in 2008 to minimize the municipality’s use of plastic.

UP Los Banos Gate

Photo courtesy of www.wikipedia.org

Not long after the ordinance was implemented, other cities and municipalities in the province of Laguna also followed suit. Eventually, some provinces and cities all throughout the country started regulating their use of plastic as well. There is still a long way to go before the whole country becomes plastic-free but there has already been a lot of progress all because Los Baños took the first step ten years ago.

Continuing What Has Been Started

Los Baños’ movement against plastic didn’t end there. In 2014, the ordinance was expanded with the implementation of Ordinance No. 2014-1316 “The Expanded Plastic Ordinance of the Municipality of Los Baños”. The ordinance prohibits the use of “one-time use” plastic such as plastic bags, plastic drinking straws, plastic cups, plastic plates, plastic spoons and forks, and styrofoam. The municipality also took the ordinance a step further by also prohibiting the use of plastic banderitas and tarpaulins without approval from the Baranggay.

Learning a New Way of Living

Although most locals are happy with the municipality’s decision to ban plastic, it’s undeniable that this change didn’t come easy. When you go to a grocery store, your purchases will be packed in paper bags or carton boxes. If you don’t happen to have an eco bag with you, it’s gonna be quite difficult. Paper bags don’t have handles and carton boxes aren’t exactly the easiest thing to carry around. Not to mention that paper bags tear easily.

Baker Field - Freedom Park featuring the Carillon Tower

Photo courtesy of www.wikipedia.org

The locals weren’t the only ones who had to adjust to these ordinances. Even fast food chains and malls had to change their way of doing things. In fact, a Starbucks branch opened in Los Baños recently and they serve their cold drinks in paper cups, the ones they usually use for hot drinks. I still remember how a man in KFC was complaining because they wouldn’t give him a plastic straw and he didn’t know how he was supposed to sip his drink while driving.

So yes, this change didn’t come easy but the locals understand and have learned to adapt to this change. Nowadays, there are no more complaints. People have successfully adapted to this new way of life, a plastic-free life. Just imagine what we could do for the environment if everyone in the country would be willing to embrace change and take it upon his or herself to learn how to help protect the environment like the locals of Los Baños.


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