SIP was born out of frustration.
In his last year of college at the Ateneo de Manila University, Poch Espina had a dilemma. He learned that the Philippines ranked third on the plastic pollutants in the entire world. He hiked, biked, skindived, and got more immersed in nature, in which he saw the beauty of the environment—and unfortunately, its degrade—in the flesh. While other countries discovered different ways to manage waste, the Philippines stayed behind. He was frustrated. And this frustration became his fuel.
Since then, he became passionate about sustainability. Reusables was his first step—but there was a hurdle. Metal straws were particularly hard to find in the country and expensive to source overseas. And he felt that he didn’t want to be in this alone. So he purchased 3,000 straws and brushes abroad, got pouches done locally, and shared the first step to this journey to dozens of students. In November 2016, on a Facebook group called Ateneo Trade, Poch put up an ad that sold packaged metal straws. This was the start of Sip.
The Classic Set
A thin silver metal straw with a brush in a pouch. This was the Sip "Classic Set". It had garnered so many eyeballs that it went beyond the Facebook group where it started. WWF took notice and Filipino celebrities Iza Calzado and Marc Nelson promoted the use of metal straws. The Lighthouse Marina Resort in Subic sought out a partnership to serve single-use straws and offer to sell the metal straws to guests. Slowly but surely, more and more people have incorporated the metal straw to their lives.
The Milk Tea Set
Filipinos love milk tea. But milk tea establishments also add to the pool of single-use waste, at large. So another gap had to be closed. The Milk Tea Set, a metal straw with a wider diameter for drinks with sinkers, was an instant hit. This led to a partnership with prominent milk tea chain, Serenitea. Customers enjoyed the perks of using a metal straw over the single-use ones and gained insight on the plastic problem every time they visit.
Sip didn't stop at straws. Thrown in with the straws are cutlery made from bamboo, all snuggled in a wrap—the Burrito was born. This was a step up to the whole reusable journey and people started discovering how delightful sustainability can be. Different organizations eventually found alignment and resonation with what Sip is doing. Social enterprise Rags 2 Riches, spaces like Common Room and Roots introduced the products to their own communities. The lifestyle started to spread.
Not just straws
A lot of people have easily gotten onboard on that first step, and the time came to level it up. Product quality, names, and the overall branding changed. Small and big projects took place. The team learned about circular economy and decided that’s where the company is heading.
The Last Straw
TLS has a simple proposition: to reduce single-use plastic waste among communities. PEMSEA, or Partnerships for Environmental Management in the Seas of East Asia, enabled this project and kicked off in Katipunan, Quezon City. Through policy and joint effort, TLS sought out the involvement of important people in the community, from students to LGUs. Different establishments started to influence their customers and culture for the better. They either discouraged the use, offered reusables, or banned single-use plastic straws altogether. To date, it has over 50 partner establishments and aided the regulation of single-use plastic in Loyola Heights thanks to an ordinance.
Making sustainability accessible
Those who have been seeing the delight in the lifestyle continued growing and wanting access. With the help of partners whose values align with the company, slowly, but surely, we’re able to reach them. It was awesome to see our partners get inspired and elevate their businesses to be better and kinder to the planet. Save Philippine Seas, a marine conservation organization that empowers communities, became one of the dearest partners. In 2017, a collaboration took place in which 50% of the co-branded sets proceeds—with SPS's signature turtle logo—went to their projects. Come November 2018, the Loop. store, a physical store in Quezon City where people can have access to local and global sustainable brands, became a company’s dream come true.
Two sipnificant years
Acknowledgments after acknowledgments, Sip has become Sip Innovations Philippines Inc. and its people continue to learn grow. Sustainability + Innovations for the Planet. Solutions + Initiatives for the People. These have been the main drive for SIP to keep going and thriving. We wish for every household to have our sets and make the first step. But our ultimate dream is to help ourselves run free in this world, with the ease and delight of caring for the people and the planet.