Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Paula, I used to think I was a sea turtle but since no one would believe me, I just became a Rebel Mermaid and Miss SCUBA International 2013 First Runner up. Kidding aside, I am a social enterprise & crypto enthusiast, community builder, and a public speaker. A self-confessed tech geek, who is highly involved in the startup scene with years of experience in growing communities. Also, currently the Chapter Director for Startup Grind Cebu, Couchsurfing Manila moderator, a 2030 Youth Force of the Philippines Representative for Central Visayas, a Climate Reality Leader and Internations Cebu Ambassador.
Let’s say I like to get involved in a lot of things!
Why did you decide to minimize plastic consumption?
I was already aware about maintaining the beauty of the environment since I was a child because I grew up in a city that was known as one of the cleanest and greenest in the Philippines and my mother trained us to be conscious about how we dispose of plastic. I remember during high school that I would pick up plastic bags used for buko juice thrown by other students on my way home. I grew more aware of the ill effects after I saw several documentaries about plastic waste around 2011 and I became really serious after I became a certified SCUBA diver because then you see how big the problem is out of all the dive sites I have been; I only know one without visible plastic.
Are there any challenges doing it?
When I started the anti-single-use plastic movement was not that big yet so it is a struggle specially when I go to shop for stuff, I would end up debating with the cashier on not giving me plastic or in the public market when they do not understand why I do not want a plastic bag. It is the same case when you say no straw or no plastic spoon and fork plus the fact that when you, as for take away, even those paper cups or paper food containers still are lined with plastic. Also, some beauty products unknowingly contain plastics because it is either not written or in scientific name.
Any memorable experience so far involving not using plastic that you want to share?
I did a talk on marine conservation specifically on the effects of plastic and what we can do to lessen it for I Luv Cebu InstaMeet last year. I bluntly spoke about the scary effects of the continued use of plastics and it came with hard hitting facts when I finished my talk everyone seemed depressed and scared like I was telling them the world will end that day but I was happy to have had that effect because it means they took my message seriously.
Do you have other advocacies?
I am quite passionate about a lot of things such as marine conservation, responsible travel, climate action, sustainable lifestyle, youth empowerment, feminism, indigenous rights and social entrepreneurship.
Any advice to those who want to start doing the same?
Stop making excuses and just start doing. It does not have to be a major change, do what you can at the moment and make it incremental.
Paula loves exploring the offbeat destinations (scuba diving, surfing or eating) and write about other random stuff at The Rebel Mermaid.
She also started Utro Philippines: an online shop where she sells reusable straws, she will be posting new eco friendly and sustainable products soon.
You can follow Paula on her Instagram Account @therebelmermaid