People are changing to ‘green’ lifestyle

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Back eight years ago, when ECHO Store first opened its doors with still quite a few healthy, organic and sustainable products from local communities, people scoffed at the store founders as a healthy lifestyle was just for the rich, who can afford the more pricey items.

 

But fast forward now, even those with shoestring budget are taking extra effort and care about their health, shifting to green lifestyle by buying organic foods and patronizing local communities’ products coming from mostly recycled materials.

 

Why not do it now when the Earth is yawning from too much trash in the landfills and wasteful consumption of food and the high rates of cardiac and other diseases because of unhealthy, junkie fast-paced lifestyles.

 

One of ECHO Store’s founder (ECHO stands for   caring for the environment, helping the community, promoting health and working  with organizations) Pacita “Chit” Juan reported in her Facebook post her delight at seeing friends walk in the store for Christmas items and these were health buffs, vegetarians and a lecturer on corporate social responsibility.

 

“Banker Ed Francisco, a health buff, got some nice natural pumice stones as gifts. Then yesterday I saw Marge Enriquez, a vegetarian, journalist and wellness advocate was having coffee and hot chocolate as she was looking for gifts, and finally before I left I saw Ron Chua, from the academe and lecturer on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and other social and development subjects,” she narrated.

 

Then I realized the ECHOstore is for the health buff, the wellness advocate, the vegetarian and of course, the socially-conscious among us. I am happy to be able to serve these people. My partners and I love that people have taken to natural and organic, locally-made food, our freshly-made salads and sandwiches, and our body products, too. Such is today’s lifestyle after all. Not just for women, but for men as well, Juan continued.

 

Shoppers

 

At the Serendra store she said she observed corporate procurement people looking over their lists. “No, we have to get them something more expensive” one says. Then, we offered many different kinds of hampers and wooden boxes to be filled with assorted food treats. They left with an order for more than 50 sets of gifts. Another woman walks in, friend in tow, “this is the store I was telling you about. Everything sustainable,” she says.  And they leave with some staples for their pantry- Virgin Coconut Oil, Coconut sugar and coffee. I’m happy we have addressed this segment of the market and we have been for almost ten full years now.

 

The store was established in 2008 by three forward-looking women who wanted a place for all the eco-friendly and natural products one looks for to sustain a lifestyle that cares for the environment. The ECHOtrio also wanted to help small producers, craftsmen and artisans get to markets they have never served.

 

It started in Serendra in Bonifacio Global City. Soon after, a shop in Podium Mall, a full café and market in Centris Quezon City, and Salcedo Village, Makati followed.

 Added to the store in some outlets, is the ECHOcafe where apart from partaking of homegrown freshly-ground coffee, there is a sharing while dining of recipes with customers and the goods for do it yourself (DIY) at home right at the ECHOmarket.

 

To further drive home the point of sustainability, ECHOfarms was founded in 2009 and became the primary source for ECHOmarket’s vegetables and fruits used at the ECHOcafe and sold at ECHOstore.

 

Today, ECHOstore also has locations in Cebu City, Davao City, and Cagayan de Oro City. It also has a robust e-commerce site www.echostore.ph.

 

Triple bottomline

 

It may have taken nien years but it’s here—everyone’s thinking sustainable, socially-conscious, healthy and eco-friendly. It has always been the triple bottom line. And I’m now seeing it in action, Juan exclaimed.

 

We had many detractors when we started—but we have kept on and stayed the course. Many have even replicated our concept of healthy and green and we don't mind at all.

 

Media practitioners

 

Imagine Ces Drilon is now a Malunggay farmer supplying us with Moringa Dips, pasta and pesto. Imagine Tintin Babao supplying us mango chocolates and pastillas.

 

Our social development continues especially with our coffee and cacao products. We are proud to work with communities who supply the best local coffee and the best chocolates. We have visited Subasta Coop in Davao which supplies Theo and Philo(our first chocolate artisan supplier back in 2011) all the way to our Bohol women who supply our cacao nibs and tablea.

 

Our coffee comes from our partners in Benguet, Sulu and Batangas and many parts of the country. Why coffee? Because our customers are particular about the coffee we serve at the ECHOcafe and the coffee they take home to brew. After all, each day starts with a cup of good coffee, don't you agree?

 

And our eco-friendly home cleaning solutions also started as inspired by Messy Bessy who then went commercial. Our detergent and VCO soap suppliers have scaled up their production facilities because people now care about what they use at home daily, she said.

 

Our aromatherapy products and Ilog Maria have been popular since Day One. Almost 10 years now, we have been doing aromatherapy which is our Spa in a Bottle and Spa in a Can—our two most popular products which is now also prescribed by doctors. One customer came in with a prescription—that makes us proud that even traditional doctors have considered our solution to stress therapy.

 

In September 2008, she said, we started with the older set – women in their 30s- and our market has grown both ways ,sideways –the young and the more mature have joined our initial market of young mothers and foreigners. Now we have men, too, the newest growing segment in personal care and socially-conscious products.

 

 

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