22 May 2007

Back-to-school Eco Tips for Students and Parents

As the Department of Education (DepEd) braces itself for the resumption of regular classes at all levels, the environmental groups Add Up! Volunteers and the EcoWaste Coalition have teamed up to produce a list of eco-tips that can guide parents and students in preventing trash and saving
precious money for back-to-school needs.


Add Up! is a group of young volunteers who have bonded together to do their share in nation building. It is a member of the EcoWaste Coalition, a network that is promoting zero waste resource management for environmental health and justice.


By coming up with "green tips," Add Up! and the EcoWaste Coalition hope to tackle the two-fold challenges of stretching the tight family budget for education in light of the purchasing pressure, and minimizing the waste and pollution ensuing from impulsive consumption.


The groups explained that the usual back-to-school spending spree has environmental costs that are seldom considered when parents of the country’s over 22 million students troop to the bookstores, shopping malls or to the famed Divisoria budget market to buy brand-new notebooks, pens,
bags, shoes and uniforms.


Data obtained from DepEd’s website show that the country has some 13,825,744 pre-school and elementary students, and some 6,267,015 secondary students. There are about 2.4 million students enrolled in various colleges and universities.


Aside from making a dent on the parents’ wallets, the crass commercialism that characterizes the school opening also contributes to climate change. Every time we buy something, the groups pointed out, fossil fuel energy has gone into producing that item and getting it to us. The burning of
fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas and petrol to produce the energy is
driving climate change.


By following the "green tips," consumers delay or eliminate the need to extract more raw materials and manufacture new products and consequently reduce the demand for fossil fuels and minimize the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the
atmosphere.

Add Up! and the EcoWaste Coalition encourage parent and student consumers to heed these "green tips," share these with friends and encourage everyone in the school and community to make waste prevention, reduction and recycling a part of their daily lives to save Mother Nature and beat
climate change.



SCHOOL BOOKS

* Check with your schoolmates and friends if they have textbooks and reference materials that you can borrow. If the assigned textbooks are the same edition as last year, try to borrow from someone your senior. Remember to take extra care of these borrowed books and to return them at the end of the school year.

* If you need to buy books, why not comb the second-hand bookstores first in the University Belt to cut on book expenses. Reusing books saves money and reduces waste.

* Reuse magazine covers, gift wrappers or grocery bags to cover your books
to keep them in good condition and to cut on waste.

* Take care of your books and refrain from writing or drawing on them unless needed so you can pass clean books to friends and relatives next year.

* Donate your old fiction and non-fiction books and textbooks to school or community libraries, and share the light of knowledge to marginalized children.


SCHOOL SUPPLIES

* Before heading to your favorite store or to Divisoria for the "bagsak-presyo" school opening sale, first sort through your materials and list what you already have as many of them can still be reused or recycled. Gather the clean sheets from your old notebooks and rewire or
sew them to create your own personalized notebooks. Reuse scrap paper as lecture or research notes.

* If you have to shop for new school supplies, look for products that are made from recycled materials as using products with recycled materials minimizes waste and saves money too. Read the product labels and choose non-toxic products that are safer to health and the environment.

* Patronize locally-produced school supplies, and avoid cheap imports that have now flooded the market. You do not only support the local industry, but also lessen the fossil fuel energy used to transport things.

* Select durable school supplies that can be easily reused, recycled, repaired or refilled for many years such as refillable pens and notebooks and reusable folders and binders. This will help reduce the amount of discards that is thrown to the bin.

* Bring a reusable carry bag when you shop. Join the growing league of
consumers that are saying no to plastic bag pollution!



SCHOOL UNIFORMS

* Try on your old set of uniforms first before thinking of buying new ones. Go to your neighborhood "modista" for the minor alterations that may be required.

* Instead of buying a new pair of shoes, your old ones may just work the same. Have the defects, if any, fixed by your friendly "sapatero" for minimal cost.



SCHOOL BAON

* Bring your own reusable water jug so you don’t have to buy bottled water
and sugar-filled beverages and juices.

* Bring native "kakanin" and healthy food for snacks packed in reusable
containers to avoid junk food in plastic wrappers. Stay away from styrofoam and other throw-away plastic disposables.

* Replace disposable paper napkin with reusable rag or towelette, and save trees.


SCHOOL TRANSPORT

Arrange for a car pool early. Use public transport or school bus instead of your own car. If you can, bike to school. Walking, cycling, carpooling or taking the public transportation saves fuel, minimize air pollution and reduce traffic congestion.


Add Up! and the EcoWaste Coalition invite all students, parents and teachers to welcome the new school year with the well-being of the environment in mind.


For more information, please call the EcoWaste Coalition at (02) 9290376.





EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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