When Adrian Camposagrado founded the environmental organization Estrawnghero Volunteer Group, he thought the battle stopped at plastic drinking straws.
The Estrawnghero Volunteer Group is notable for their involvement in eco initiatives in Iloilo. It began after Adrian, a student at the University of the Philippines Visayas and founder of the group, discovered a study on plastic waste in oceans. According to the study, plastic wastes could potentially outnumber the fish in the ocean by 2050. The Philippines is currently the world’s third largest contributor of plastic waste in the ocean. While they couldn’t clean up every coast in the country, the Estrawnghero Volunteer Group were able to create an impact right in their municipality of Tigbauan.
From facilitating coastal cleanups to authoring a children’s book on proper waste disposal, the youth-led group has an array of activities and projects aimed at a plastic-free community.
After a successful campaign encouraging local establishments to refuse plastic straws, the organization was ready to take their objective further: sando bags. “It is undeniable that, really, these are one of the worst plastic materials that we see everywhere; on streets, seas. They are noticeably becoming part of our daily routines when, in fact, hindi naman talaga dapat (it’s not supposed to be like that),” says Adrian.
The Ati Community creating ecobags with recycled paper
Their new campaign, the Paper Bag Project, aims to lessen the consumption of single-use plastics by advocating for the use of paper bags as an environment-friendly alternative. However, the group noticed a few problems: existing paper bags were expensive, and producing more meant trees had to be sacrificed. Which is why they reached out to the IP (Indigenous People) community in their municipality to collaborate on creating paper bags out of recycled paper.
The project had its first run on August 24, 2018. Estrawnghero Volunteers visited the Ati community of Brgy. 1 Poblacion, and spent the day making paper bags out of donated scratch papers. The paper bags are made by pasting the scratch papers together and folding them until a thick layer of paper is created. According to Adrian, their large-sized paper bag can already carry approximately 6 to 7 kilograms.
The group hopes the project can serve as the locals’ own contribution to the protection of the environment, and encourage them to do even more in the future.
The made paperbags being sold to local markets to replace plastic
Beyond the Bag

Besides educating the community, the project was also able to provide income-generating opportunities for the Ati through their new skills. Each paper bag is sold to local business establishments to use as an alternative to sando bags — and all proceeds go to the Ati community. 55 Ati residents benefit from this project, with the revenue from the paper bags adding to their source of livelihood.

What was initially a response to the community’s love affair with sando bags blossomed into a successful social enterprise. “I am very thankful that even from the time I presented the concept to them, they were also so open with it. They also agreed to doing it. They did not have any hesitations. They were excited. They also see how significant it will be for the community,” says Adrian about introducing the concept to the Ati community.
According to him, the volunteers were even able to form a bond with the community. “We go to the IP Community to check how they are going regularly. We even go there sometimes just to talk to each other, spend time talking about anything. We consider them not just as beneficiaries only, but a family we can always go to and tambay (hang out with).”
Estrawnghero is currently accepting scratch papers from private officers, government officers, households, and individuals who can donate them for free. You can discover more about their advocacy and their other projects on their Facebook page here
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