Traveling Ethically in the Philippines: Shopping Local and Sustainably at ECHOstore

by Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer January 11, 2016 4 Comments

Traveling Ethically in the Philippines: Shopping Local and Sustainably at ECHOstore

Gelaine and I first discovered the social enterprise scene in the Philippines over a year ago. We were surprised to see how many social enterprises and products there were in Philippines compared to the US and Canada. It wasn't long before we became inspired to start ChooseSocial.PH, a website dedicated to Filipino social enterprises. This, in turn, inspired us to start Cambio Market.

One of the social enterprises that really caught our eye was the ECHOstore. Last week, we made a short trip to Manila to attend an invent by Impact Hub. While we were in town, we decided to make a stop to the Salcedo branch of ECHOstore. ECHOstore is a social enterprise and sustainable lifestyle store that sells green and natural fair trade products. Inside the store you'll also find an ECHOcafe (for coffee!) and ECHOmarket, that sells fresh and organic products.

What a good decision that was! For the first time, we were finally able to really see, touch and smell all these social enterprise products that we had heard so much about. To visit an actual "in-person" retail store with such a large variety of ethical products made locally is truly impressive. While Cambio Market does sell Filipino social enterprise products such as Olivia & Diego Upcycled Jewelry and Good Paper Handcrafted Cards, there are tons that we aren’t (yet!) able to include in our shop (shipping food products overseas is a tad difficult!).

You'll have to visit the ECHOstore for yourself if/when you come to Philippines, but in the meantime, feast your eyes on photos from our visit :)

ECHOstore logo

The entrance to the store!

Messy Bessy shelf at ECHOstore

Go Squeaky Clean: Shelf of Messy Bessy cleaning products - all safe, natural, and without chemicals. To double their impact, they also employ and provide training to at-risk young adults In the Philippines. They even have a Messy Baby line for all natural baby products. 

Gelaine exploring food products at ECHOstore

Fair trade and organic food: Gelaine exploring the food products (of course!). Their selection isn't huge but it's big enough to have a few good picks. They sell fair trade and organic rice, teas, spices, and ice cream (yum!). 

Packaging at ECHOstore

Our purchases! All beautifully wrapped up with recycled magazine pages. We thought that was a nice touch.

Theo & Philo chocolate

Theo & Philo Filipino chocolate: We got two types of dark chocolates: green mango & sea salt and siling labuyo (a small chili pepper in the Philippines). Philippines grows cacao trees and is capable of producing their own chocolate, though sadly the country imports the majority of its chocolate  (and from countries that don't even grow cacao trees!). Theo & Philo is a social enterprise aims to raise awareness and promote Filipino-made chocolate using local Filipino flavours and ingredients.

Coffees for a cause - Philippines

Coffees for a CauseWe had never heard of Coffees for a Cause, but we were pleasantly surprised to find Filipino coffee, which is something I had been trying to find since we arrived. While the Philippines is able to produce coffee, they produce very little and import most of their domestic consumption (which is an issue that happens in multiple sectors of their agriculture sector, such as chocolate). 

Nature to Nurture - Baby bottle and dish wash

Nature to Nurture:  Gelaine's sister is having a baby (!) so we bought this all natural & baby safe dish wash for baby bottles, from Nature to Nurture. They have several other natural care products (but there's only so much we can fit in our luggage. Sad). 

Minka Toothbrush

Minka & the Toothbrush Movement: We bought all natural bamboo toothbrushes from a social enterprise named Minka.  They work with local co-operatives and communities in Ilo-Ilo to source their bamboo and donate 10% of every purchase to Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines. Their toothbrushes come in both adult and kid sizes (we accidentally bought the kid's edition instead but that won't stop us from using them).  

If you travel through the Philippines, stop by one of the ECHOstore branches across the country, which you can give as pasalubong (Tagalog word for gift/souvenir to friends and family)! Your purchase will help local social enterprises strengthen their social impact and you will enjoy great quality products!

This blog post is part of a series about our ethical travel adventures in the Philippines. Click here to check out other posts in this series.




Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer
Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer

Author

Jérôme is co-founder of Cambio Market – an online shop for handcrafted, ethical products that give back. He's also co-founder of ChooseSocial.PH – the go-to resource to learn about the social enterprise scene in the Philippines. He's been an IT professional for many years and worked for many e-commerce clients. He also used his technical skills with various non-profits during his free time.


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4 Responses

Gelaine @CambioMarket
Gelaine @CambioMarket

April 05, 2016

@KAYCEE BAUTISTA Thanks so much for your message! We actually did visit the Enchanted Farm (we’re huge fans) and also attended a Global Social Business Summit hosted on the farm. The farm is beautiful, and we also tasted the super delicious peanut butter from First Harvest, GoldenducK eggs, and carabao milk ice cream from Caribella. So many amazing products. Thanks again for reaching out!

Gelaine @CambioMarket
Gelaine @CambioMarket

April 05, 2016

@NASTASHA Thanks so much for the kind words! We see that you were also traveling in the Philippines for a bit this year. Hope you had a wonderful time and we can’t wait to hear about your travels. All the best to you in the meantime :)

Kaycee Bautista
Kaycee Bautista

April 03, 2016

It’s great to hear and read about visitors in the Philippines loving our locally made products. :)

Next time you visit you should explore the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, this was where Theo and Philo started. It’s the grassroots of Gawad Kalinga social enterprises such as the Bamboo Bike, Human Nature, Golden Duck, Red Carpet, and so much more. They’ve also developed their land and space recently to accommodate more guests and would usually have an exchange student or two to be immersed in their company and culture.

Nastasha
Nastasha

January 14, 2016

What a wonderful post Jerome, thank you for sharing! Delighted to hear about your trip to the Philippines – there are so many experiences, sights (and insights) I feel this kind of travel offers. :)

I’m always incredibly excited to hear about the businesses and social enterprises you and Gelaine have talked about. Look forward to seeing your updates!

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