Charlotte Rose Mellis

Rich in Rogue Plastic

December 12, 2017

VOPO Expedition, Philippines in 2017 united partners Bewilder Earth, Danjugan Sanctuary, Philippines Reef & Rainforest Restoration Foundation & SWEEP to address the challenge of #RoguePlastic across the southeast Asian archipelago.

In 2015, Bewilder started working with global media platform, VOX POPULI in The Philippines. In response to mounting pressure, as one of the top five ocean polluters, VOPO Expeditions were formed as a means to increase awareness and generate income locally, through regenerative initiatives that address environmental challenges. Previously in 2016, team members Charlotte Rose Mellis and Jesika Ellul developed a sustainable design program. This would form the basis of Bewilders remote, experiential eco-incubator training suite. In collaboration with communities of the Palawan islands and Tao Philippines ecotourism, a series of eco-enterprise workshops were facilitated with women and girls - as part of a sailing voyage through paradise.

The following year, Bewilder returned to The Philippines in partnership with Philippine Reef & Rainforest Conservation Foundation and Danjugan Sanctuary for the first official VOPO Impact Adventure. Charlotte designed and delivered an intersectional challenge-solving methodology, that took 8 local staff and scholars, alongside 8 international participants through a signature Brainmelt experience. Through this process of cross cultural mediation, the diverse groups were able to disseminate the underlying cause of our challenge: Rogue Plastic, while defining unique approaches to alleviating its symptoms.

Dave Albao, Executive Director Philippines Reef & Rainforest Conservation Foundation asked the question,

"Can we redesign the sari-sari store to be free of single-use plastic? How can we sell consumer goods with the same “tingi-tingi” volumes available, with the same price points, but without the sachets?"

The Danjugan Sanctuary team utilised this opportunity to conceive the preliminary idea of the Wala Usik "zero-waste" dispensary store model, as a socio-economic strategy beyond the scope of awareness initiative, SWEEP (Sea Waste Eradication Program). The local, Negros island solution obtained USAID funding to implement the Wala Usik franchise concept, with 9 female sari-sari store owners trained and supported to successfully transition away from single-use plastic products.

Bewilder returned with VOX POPULI media and a global crew of explorers to sail an inter-island voyage to Danjugan Sanctuary - to celebrate the launch of our local friends in Bulata's Wala Usik store. Watch VOPO Philippines, Earth Voyage 2019!

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