This local, eco-friendly market is perfect for your Christmas shopping

Rhea Claire Madarang

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This local, eco-friendly market is perfect for your Christmas shopping
From shampoo bars and upcycled bags and clothes to cookies baked with love by Yolanda survivors and handicrafts by local artists, the Old Manila Eco Market in Intramuros

While Christmas is a season of gift giving and good cheer, it also comes with trash – gift wrapping and plastic bags from shopping being only some among the problems. The Philippines is, in fact, the world’s third largest source of plastic pollution in the oceans

A bazaar in Intramuros aims to reduce the waste that comes not only with Christmas shopping, but with shopping in general.

The Old Manila Eco Market, which runs every Friday to Sunday up to December 31 at Plaza de Roma in front of the Manila Cathedral, sells eco-friendly and mostly Filipino-made products. It also bans plastic for packaging, and encourages customers to bring their own eco bags, as well as utensils and lunch boxes for food. It also emphasizes health and homemade products, prohibiting soft drinks and heavily processed food with preservatives.

Items sold range from products encouraging zero or reduced waste like reusable steel and bamboo straws, shampoo bars, and bags and clothes from repurposed fabrics to homemade or handcrafted products like dream catchers, jewelry, cakes and cookies, some made by and for the support of communities like Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors. 

ZERO WASTE GIFTS. Reusable straws, cloth towels, and cloth sanitary pads are among the items you can expect to find at this environment-friendly market. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

FOR THE HAIR. Shampoos and conditioners usually come in bottles, so using bars like these can dramatically reduce waste for landfills. Photo courtesy of Hoy Plastik

UPCYCLED FASHION. These bags and clothes are made from repurposed fabrics. The owner is wearing one of the upcycled tops.  DISCOUNTS FOR NO PACKAGING. Some merchants like Ecolohika offer discounts for customers who forgo packaging. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

DREAM CATCHERS. These are made by a local artist also giving dream catcher making workshops. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

BAKED WITH LOVE. This chocolate cake from one of the booths, Aling Caring’s, was made from a classic family recipe.

CHRISTMAS TREATS. The market has Christmas cookies, too! Photo courtesy of Aling Caring’s Facebook page

COOKIES WITH A PURPOSE. These cookies are made by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors in Leyte. Buying these cookies support their communities.

FRESH FRUIT. Old Manila Eco Market’s emphasis on health can also be seen in fruit stalls like this, with fruits coming from the country’s different regions, like mangoes from Guimaras.

Old Manila Eco Market co-founders Shine de Castro and Sheila Leyva were motivated to launch the eco-friendly market because of their experiences with trash in Metro Manila. 

“I’m a commuter and the daily commute has been a constant struggle. It is made even more challenging when there are heavy rains and floods because of the trash,” De Castro says. 

Leyva, a dragon boat athlete, also shares her dismay at the trash she sees whenever she rows at Manila Bay. 

De Castro and Leyva, both mothers, are hopeful that their “small efforts” would be felt by their children’s generation, as they agree that actions like this take time to have an impact.  

FOR THE PLANET. Hoy Plastik owners Cheyenne Reyes and Raymond Orbita believe in the power of making an effort for the environment. Photo courtesy of Hoy Plastik.  

Many of the market’s merchants are also passionate about doing what they can for the environment.

“At first, we just wanted to switch to organic shampoo because my boyfriend and I have sensitive scalp,” Hoy Plastik co-owner Cheyenne Reyes relates.

“Then when I was browsing the Internet, I saw articles on plastic bottles, etc. I realized that we should have at least a single contribution to save the planet.” Her business, which she runs with her boyfriend Raymond Orbita, started with reusable straws and expanded to other zero-waste items like shampoo bars she herself makes. 

HOPEFUL FOR THE FUTURE. Old Manila Eco Market co-founders Shine de Castro and Sheila Leyva are hopeful that their efforts for the environment will be felt by the next generation.

Old Manila Eco Market also holds workshops at Plaza de Roma, usually facilitated by its merchants, like a dream catcher making workshop and a home linen spray making workshop.

CRAFTING DREAMCATCHERS. Artist Rolando Lenada teaches marketgoers how to make dreamcatchers. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

DIY LINEN AND ROOM SPRAY. Merchant Fiona Fajardo-Fernandez shows how to make fragrant home sprays. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market  

Every weekend, events and performances like concerts and poetry readings are also held at the market.

OUTDOOR CONCERT. Marketgoers can catch performances like this by musician Jean Paul Zialcita. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

POETRY AND MUSIC. LakanTula performs for marketgoers. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

Below are more photos of products at the market

MORE ZERO ITEMS. Lightweight bamboo utensils and more zero waste items abound at Old Manila Eco Market. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

SOLID LOTION. Not only are there shampoo and conditioner bars – there are lotion bars, too! It is also possible to forgo bottles for your skin and hair care. Photo by Rence Chan

FOR REFILLING. If you do have bottles, you can bring your soap, shampoo, dishwashing bottles, and more and get them refilled at ReFeelables.

ORGANIC SOAP. Balay Organiko sells soap made by communities from the Zamboanga region.

NATURAL SUNBLOCK. Made mostly from virgin coconut oil and beeswax. Photo courtesy of Marajaw Zinc Facebook page

ESSENTIAL OILS. Many more handmade products can be found at the market, like essential oils by Prasadam from Bicol.

SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD. There are also sustainable food items from and for the benefit of local communities like Balangay’s Best, wild-caught by local fisherfolk from different regions in the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Balangay’s Best

SIDE DISHES AND SEASONINGS. Tasty delicacies like these products from Bacolod are also available.

FARM-FRESH. A farm’s stall also sells fresh organic eggs and more.

MEALS. Ready-to-eat food is also sold at the market. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

BAMBOO BIKES. For those who want to explore Intramuros, these bikes by Bambike are for rent. Some are also for sale.


MORE BAMBOO. Other items made from bamboo like bird callers and flutes can be found at the market. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

HANDMADE WITH LOVE. Colorful, durable earrings made from polymer clay

JEWELRY. These handmade jewelry can be customized upon request. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

COPPER. Rings and other accessories made from copper wire. Photo courtesy of Old Manila Eco Market

LOCAL FOOTWEAR. Shoes and sandals made in Liliw, Laguna. Photo by Rence Chan

DEVOTIONAL. Religious items like these are also available.  

Old Manila Eco Market is open 7 am to 6 pm from Friday to Sunday at Plaza de Roma, Intramuros (in front of Manila Cathedral). For upcoming workshops and events, check out their Facebook page. Interested merchants can also contact them there.

For those who want to get started on or learn more about a zero-waste lifestyle, check out this beginner’s guide. –


Claire Madarang is a writer, researcher, and documenter whose work and wanderlust takes her to adventures like backpacking for seven weeks and exploring remote islands and bustling cities alike. Follow her adventures, travel tips, and epiphanies on her blog Traveling Light and on her Instagram.

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Rhea Claire Madarang

Claire Madarang is a traveler, writer, biodiversity communications practitioner, and facilitator of nature play activities. Follow her adventures, travel tips, and reflections on her blog Traveling Light and on her Instagram