Written by Annelle Tayao-Juego for Philippine Daily Inquire on December 20, 2019. Find the article here.

This Christmas, consider supporting brands that help the environment.

Inquirer Business continues its annual Christmas gift guide—and this year, the list is an ode to the environment and the people working tirelessly to ensure its preservation, such as the inspiring Greta Thunberg, named Time’s 2019 Person of the Year. ‍‍

‍‍As the world continues to address the issue of pollution and its effect on climate change, we urge our readers to check their Christmas lists twice, and look for gifts that will leave a minimal impact on the environment and support local entrepreneurs.Here are a few local brands you might want to check out to help you get started:



Accessories by Karisma ni Maria

Karisma ni Maria (; Karisma ni Maria on Facebook; @karismanimaria on Instagram)

The founder of this brand, Kim Cunnew, went through a long creative process before finally settling on her main product: jewelry. Cunnew took up painting in 2013 when she came back home to Manila after working in the export industry in China, and made stones and used bottles her canvases, which she sold at bazaars. From painting, she moved on to making organic healthcare products, to experimenting with sea glass—which finally led her to decide on creating jewelry. All the while, Cunnew was focused on one thing that mattered most to her: that her products be made from recycled materials.“I do a lot of research via my phone, looking at ideas and getting inspiration, looking at trends around the world—not so much to follow, but to see how I can incorporate new ideas and new ways of doing things. I am also very conscious about things like packaging, labeling etc., so [I also use] recycled corks, paper, natural materials,” says Cunnew. “It is so satisfying seeing the expression on people’s faces, the way they enjoy the piece I have created. I am so lucky with my customers, as they are very supportive and will spend time talking to me about how much they like the pieces I produce, and this drives me to further [grow my business].”



Macrame plant holders by GROW


GROW, or Giving Opportunities and Resources to Women (; on Instagram)

Run by the nonprofit, nongovernmental and nonpartisan organization Project Pearls (Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love, Smiles), GROW is the group’s livelihood program for women who were relocated from the slum community of Ulingan, Tondo, Manila, to a government housing center in Bulacan in 2013. Genevieve Matabang, GROW’s project manager, says these women used to make a living through coal production or scavenging for reusable materials in dumps, and found it hard to find other means of earning when they were relocated—hence the creation of GROW.

Under the program, the women are taught different skills required for upcycling. Because of their experience working in garbage sites, and seeing how much waste is being produced every day, Matabang says they made it their focus to have a livelihood program that would also be Earth-friendly. ‍‍

‍‍Using scrap textile pieces, the women create macramé plant hangers and accessories. They also use old tarpaulins, jeans, and scrap handwoven and piña fabrics to make tote bags. Matabang says their bestseller this holiday season is the macramé bottle/tumbler holder.



Mayumi Organics shampoo and conditioner bars

Mayumi Organics (; @mayumiorganics on Facebook and Instagram)

Mayumi Organics, which sells bath products such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant bars and handcrafted soaps, was established because of a mother’s love for her daughter, as well as the environment. Its founder, Angelica Chongco, started the business in 2012 to address her daughter’s skin condition, atopic dermatitis, and to also help others facing the same problem.

Almost a decade later, Mayumi Organics continues to actively promote zero waste consumption in the personal care industry, says Chongco, who, just recently, was inducted as board member of the Philippine Society for Cosmetic Science for 2020 to 2022. She now plans to grow her business by offering it to the international market, as well as hotels and resorts.


Jacinto & Lirio (

With brands offering planner promos left and right, one might have overlooked the creations of Jacinto & Lirio—handcrafted, multifunctional planners made out of water hyacinth plants. Founded 10 years ago by Anne Mariposa-Yee, Noreen Bautista, Patricia Lalisan, Ryan Pelongco and Charm Cruz under the business accelerator of the Ateneo de Manila University, Jacinto & Lirio (the name means “hyacinth and lily”) is a social enterprise that aims to address the issue of overgrowth of the water hyacinth plant, which, due to its capability to reproduce at an extraordinary rate, causes damage to the fishing livelihood of certain communities because it blocks the entry of light and oxygen into the water, and also changes water chemistry.

Yee says Jacinto & Lirio also aims to improve the lives of the people whom they tap to create the planners—communities in Rizal and Laguna—by empowering them with meaningful work. At the same time, their planners, which carry images iconic to the Philippines, educate consumers on the importance of preserving the environment and Filipino culture.

G Stuff x Echostore (

It has been over a year since philanthropist and “earth warrior” Gina Lopez, former Environment Secretary, left the world she loved so dearly—but her spirit lives on through her business, G Stuff, which sells local and all-natural food, wellness, beauty and personal care products. Through a recent tie-up with Echostore, which also sells the same kinds of products, G Stuff’s distribution will have a wider reach in the coming years. The two brands will also continue working together to uplift the lives of small and medium-size entrepreneurs around the country.


Frankie & Friends (located in SM Aura, Taguig City; @frankiegeneralstore on Instagram)

Frankie & Friends is a recently opened store that houses all-Pinoy brands—a passion project of its founder, Jammy San Juan, who was inspired to put up the store after seeing local entrepreneurs’ craftsmanship. Zaila Macadangdang, Frankie & Friends brand manager, says the company and its features brands share the same values: ingenuity, social responsibility, passion, zeal for service, and sustainability. Ecofriendly labels include Kool PH, which sells collapsible portable cups; Runrvr, which aims to eliminate single-use plastic cups through their flagship product, the clay cup; Ecobar, which creates shampoo and conditioner bars that don’t contain sulfates, parabens, silicones and synthetic dyes; Tiny Soap Kitchen, which offers a wide variety of artfully handmade cold-processed soaps; Amihan Organics, a personal care line that uses all-natural ingredients; and Sora Beach Towels, which are made from recycled postconsumer plastic (one towel is equal to approximately eight plastic bottles).

In the coming years, Macadangdang says they hope to open more Frankie & Friends stores in other cities across the country.

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