28 December 2008

Groups Campaign for a Non-Toxic Welcome of the New Year

Manila. The dangerous, polluting and pricey ritual of blasting firecrackers to greet the New Year is grossly out of place as the country faces tough financial times amidst the record-high number of hungry families and increasingly degrading environment.

This is the joint message of the Care for the Earth Ministry of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish and the EcoWaste Coalition as they staged today a vibrant “Iwas PapuTOXIC” welcome of 2009 in front of the historic church in Malate, Manila sans toxic smoke, litter and bloodbath from perilous firecrackers.

Twenty five children from the parish community displayed their emission-free recycled noisemakers such as “torotot” from used paper, tambourines from used bottle crowns and maracas from used cans, while others held mock firecrackers that say “toxic to humans,” “toxic to animals” and “toxic to the environment.”

“Given the sad state of the economy and the environment and the growing number of hungry households, I find it totally inappropriate to be spending for costly firecrackers and fireworks while poor people forage the bins and dumps for food,” stated Father John Leydon, MSSC, the Parish Priest, who also expressed deep concern over the persistent New Year’s carnage.

The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey shows that 23.7% of Filipino families or 4.3 million families are suffering from involuntary hunger – the highest ever figure recorded since SWS started its quarterly reports on hunger in 1998.

“The money thrown away for few minutes of flicker and sparkle that emit toxic smoke and dirt which can cause ill health, while terrifying powerless animals, should be spent wisely for a healthy and nutritious media noche on New Year’s eve,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“Also, funds allocated for multi-million peso pyrotechnic display being planned by public and private entities are better spent to bring real food to the tables of hungry Filipinos,” Calonzo added.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the results of the random survey it conducted on December 27 on media noche favorites such as fruits and spaghetti that can be bought in Nepa Q-Mart, comparing these with the costs of firecrackers being sold in Bocaue, Bulacan.

For instance, a box of piccolo which costs P70 per box can buy 14 pieces of ponkan, while judas belt which sells at P300 per roll is more than enough to cook a full spaghetti meal for a family of six. Both piccolo and judas belt are banned, along with other equally dangerous firecrackers
such as atomic bomb, bawang, boga, kwitis, lolo thunder, og, plapla, super lolo, watusi and whistle bomb.

Both the Care for the Earth Ministry of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish and the EcoWaste Coalition expressed support to the ongoing campaign of the Department of Health and other agencies for a non-hazardous way of hailing the New Year.

“We exhort all parents and kids to switch to non-injurious, non-wasteful and non-toxic New Year revelry to avoid the yearly scene of carnage and trash, as well as to honor and thank Mother Nature for her bountiful gifts to our nation and people,” the groups said.

The groups emphasized that firecrackers pose serious threats to life, limb, health and property, and present a climate and chemical challenge with the emission of harmful substances that can aggravate the air quality.

The loud and frightening detonations, the groups also pointed out, scare and disturb defenseless animals such as cats and dogs who have more acute sense of hearing than humans.

The groups distributed leaflets to the parishioners suggesting the adoption of the following non-injurious, non-wasteful, non-toxic and easy on the pocket replacements to costly and deadly firecrackers:

1. Blow traditional horns or "torotot."
2. Make and shake homemade maracas from used tin cans.
3. Jiggle the tambourine made from flattened bottle caps.
4. Clang improvised cymbals using pot lids or pans.
5. Knock empty coconut shells.
6. Play the guitar or any available musical instruments.
7. Play your favorite music.
8. Beep the bicycle or car horns.
9. Clap your hands and stump your feet.
10. Sing, dance and shout “Happy New Year!”



FIRECRACKERS AND MEDIA NOCHE FAVORITES

1. Picollo at P70 per box of 10 packs; can buy 14 pieces of ponkan at P5/piece or 1 kilo of ripe mango

2. Luces at P35 per set; can buy 7 pieces of apple at P5/piece

3. Five Star at P25 per set; can buy: 4 pieces of pear at P6/piece (change of P1)

4. Crying Cow at P25 per set; can buy 2 pieces of orange at P10/piece (change of P5)

5. Judas Belt at P300 per roll; can buy 1 kilo of ground beef at P185/kilo, 1 kilo of spaghetti at P55/kilo, 1/4 kilo of hotdog at P40/kilo, plus extra P20 for condiments

6. Kwitis, 20 pieces at P3 per piece; can buy 1/2 kilo of dressed chicken at P120/kilo

7. Fountain at P35-40 per piece; can buy 1 box of regular cheese (180 grams) at P36 per piece.


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

ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

24 December 2008

Green Group Says “Think Before You Throw”

Quezon City. Let us give our frail Mother Nature a holiday favor by refraining from uncaringly throwing discards from the Christmas gift-giving and festive bash.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, made a last pitch to Christmas revelers to waste less amid threat of brimming bins and burgeoning dumpsites due to the much commercialized celebration of the birth of Jesus in the manger.

“This is sadly the season for excess garbage,” observed Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, who added that “trash has become a toxic appendage to the joyful celebration.”

Citing figures from government sources, the EcoWaste Coalition stated that during the holiday season the garbage generated by each person rises from 0.7 kilo to 1.2 kilo per day. Metro Manila’s trash volume estimated at 7,600-8,000 tons per day is expected to soar by one-third with the consumption spree.

Wasteful consumption, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, devours huge quantities of raw materials and energy as well as creates lots of discards and pollutants, including greenhouse gases that cause our planet to heat up.

“Any increase in the volume of trash is both environmentally stressing and financially draining. We therefore appeal to all to think before you throw and make it a daily habit to waste less and recycle more,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported a 25.69% waste diversion in the metropolis in 2007, which, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, is an obvious proof of the need to intensify ecological waste management in order to divert more discards away from the destructive practice of burning or dumping.

The EcoWaste Coalition promotes the adoption of the 6Rs to minimize wasting during the holidays: 1) Reduce unnecessary purchases; 2) Replace toxic products in shopping list with ecological substitutes; 3) Reject plastic bags and goods in multiple packaging, 4) Reuse unwanted items and leftovers; 5) Recycle glass, metal, paper, plastic and other recyclables; and 7) Rot kitchen, garden and other biodegradable discards into compost.

In anticipation of the trash associated with the gift-giving tradition on Christmas day, the EcoWaste Coalition has identified several reuse ideas for the typical yuletide discards:

For wrappers: neatly fold and recycle for the next gift-giving or use as cover for books or as packing material.

For bows and ribbons: keep them in a shoe box and use for other special occasions or reuse for arts and crafts projects, doll hair or stuffed toy makeovers or to add a creative touch on candleholders and vases.

For boxes: stock them up or reuse to store bows and ribbons, greeting cards, photos, arts and sewing supplies, pens and pencils, small toys and household odds and ends.

For greeting cards: turn them into ornaments for Christmas trees and garlands or reuse as bookmarks or as decorative add-ons in scrapbooks.

For paper and plastic bags: save them for future use such as for carrying or storing stuff.

“Finding creative reuse for the usual Christmas discards can help clean up the environment, while saving valuable resources and savoring good memories from being burned or buried,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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

ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

23 December 2008

PNP Asked to Enforce Ban on “Boga”

Quezon City. As the New Year revelry near, a non-government organization campaigning for safe and toxics-free festivities has asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to fully enforce the ban on “boga.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, which initiated the “Iwas PapuTOXIC” campaign to enhance the “Iwas Paputok” of the Department of Health, urged PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa to step up police action against “boga” or improvised cannons made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe.

The use of “boga” was banned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 after the popular noisemaker caused 38 eye injuries and 33 blast/burn injuries, including one requiring amputation.

Apart from physical injuries, the EcoWaste Coalition has expressed concern over the disposal of used PVC pipes after the revelry.

“Time and again, we see the spent “boga” being burned or dumped along with tons of other festivity discards,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

Used PVC “boga” when burned results in the emission of dioxin, an extremely toxic chemical poison that can cause many serious health problems such as cancer.

The EcoWaste Coalition believes that a renewed campaign against “boga” will help prevent dioxin pollution, while ensuring zero eye, blast or burn injury from the mishandling of this dangerous firecracker.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition called on local government units (LGUs) to follow the example of Davao City, which has banned since 2002 the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession and use of firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices.

“The adoption and enforcement of Davao City Ordinance 060-02 has dramatically reduced to zero all firecracker-related injuries and fatalities in the city during the New Year revelry,” the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

The LGUs, in the interest of public safety and health, need not wait for a formal legislation to ban firecrackers, all of which pose serious threats to limb, life and property and cause toxic pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

At present, the list of banned firecrackers include atomic big triangulo, five star, og, picollo, pla-pla, super lolo, thunder and watusi.

The list, the EcoWaste Coalition said, should be expanded to include all other hazardous and toxic firecrackers, including imported and locally manufactured firecrackers.

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

19 December 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Launches "Iwas PapuTOXIC" Drive, Promotes Emission-Free Noisemakers to Welcome the New Year

Quezon City. Before we look for those firecracker stands to celebrate the New Year with a bang, the EcoWaste Coalition reminds us that firecrackers are toxic to humans, animals and the environment.

As part of their advocacy for chemical safety and environmental health, the waste and pollution watchdog today launched their “Iwas PapuTOXIC” drive, stressing that firecrackers cause not only noise pollution, but also toxic smoke and litter that can endanger human and animal health and the environment.

In an effort to boost the campaign, a thousand students from Claret School in Quezon City made a big show of how the New Year can be just as festive without firecrackers by sounding alternative noisemakers from recycled materials as they unfurled a giant banner saying “PapuTOXIC sa kalusugan at kalikasan, sa tao at hayop man: iwasan!”

In lieu of firecrackers, the enthusiastic students created “emission-free, zero waste” sounds from tambourine made from bottle caps, maracas from tin cans, cymbals using pot lids, and shakers from plastic bottles, juice packs, soap and toothpaste boxes filled with seeds, coins and pebbles.



Joining the festive campaign launch were Claret grade school principal Evelyn Angeles, actor Roy Alvarez, veterinarian Dr. Rey del Napoles, Cathy Untalan of the Miss Earth Foundation and the representatives of Alaga Lahat, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Earth UST, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation and Sining Yapak.

“With money so hard to come by these days, lighting firecrackers is literally burning hard-earned money away, while putting the safety and health of the people and animals around us at grave risk,” Roy Alvarez, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“Centralized pyrotechnic display does not solve the problem either. It is undeniably pouring money down the drain and should be discouraged. We propose that public funds earmarked for fireworks should be used to buy books for school libraries, build more classrooms and set up community recycling facilities,” Alvarez emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition has drawn up 10 eco-friendly substitutes to firecrackers which are available at minimal or no cost at all:

1. Blow traditional horns or "torotot."
2. Make and shake homemade maracas from used tin cans.
3. Jiggle the tambourine made from flattened bottle caps.
4. Clang improvised cymbals using pot lids or pans.
5. Knock empty coconut shells.
6. Play the guitar or any available musical instruments.
7. Play your favorite music.
8. Beep the bicycle or car horns.
9. Clap your hands and stump your feet.
10. Sing, dance and shout “Happy New Year!”

The EcoWaste Coalition identified six reasons why Filipinos should turn away from the bloody, dirty and costly rites of welcoming the New Year with firecrackers:

1. Firecrackers can cause serious if not fatal injuries. Incorrect handling can lead to the loss of limbs, lives and properties.

2. Firecrackers produce smoke and dust loaded with harmful chemicals that can aggravate the poor air quality and cause throat and chest congestion and other health problems, particularly for people with asthma and chemical sensitivities.

3. Firecrackers leave behind unwanted discards such as paper scraps, cellophane and plastic wrappers, and PVC pipes from “boga” that add to the mountains of holiday trash.

4. Firecrackers produce deafening noise that can lead to anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, and hearing disabilities, and trigger high blood pressure and heart attack.

5. Firecrackers can result to severe ear injuries for animals who are more sensitive to sound, so the noise hurts their ears, terrifies them, and causes them to run wildly or lose their navigational skills.

6. Firecrackers waste money that should be spent instead to buy food for the table, clothes and books for the children and other essential needs.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed support for Senate Bill 2119 filed by Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., which calls for a ban on the manufacture, sale and use of all firecrackers. Pimentel justified the proposed move, saying that “no amount of safety reminders from health and law enforcement authorities can prevent accidents from occurring when revelers handle firecrackers or pyrotechnics because of their highly perilous nature.”

Besides the danger to life, limb, and eardrums, firecracker explosions, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, emit the same toxic chemicals as smoke-belching vehicles, significantly increasing the level of deadly gases and particulates in the atmosphere.

A World Bank study released in 2007 estimates that there are nearly 5,000 premature deaths in Metro Manila alone due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases from exposure to poor air quality. Costs associated with treating reported diseases attributed to air pollution amount to PhP962M per year, with an additional PhP6.7B in lost income for air pollution-related deaths due to pneumonia in children and cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer in adults.

“While recognizing the marked decline in firecracker-related injuries in the past years, we believe that the Department of Health and the entire government machinery should do more and aim for zero injury, death and pollution from firecrackers, which is definitely the better way to welcome the New Year,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


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

15 December 2008

Plastic Trash Blights Divisoria

Quezon City. Divisoria, the country’s number one bargain center, is drowning in plastic garbage as consumers go on a pre-Christmas spending spree.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, made this observation following market trash surveillance in Divisoria on December 7 and 14 as part of the group’s “Toxics-Free Paskong Pinoy” campaign.

“We find the plastic bags galore in Divisoria and the piles of mostly plastic rubbish along Recto Avenue and adjacent streets very disturbing. It's as if people find it perfectly okay to mess up the area with excess packaging materials and other discards,” Manny Calonzo, President of the
EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“The discarded plastics, including carry bags, wrappers and Styrofoam peanuts, shells and casings scattered willy nilly, serve only to aggravate the garbage, climate and financial fix our nation is in,” he added.

If the deluge of plastic trash in Divisoria is any indication, Calonzo said, the plastic consumption during the holiday shopping bonanza in the “tiangge,” markets and malls all over the country will be fearfully massive.

“It is high time we discontinued spoiling the festive season with avoidable trash and pollution,” Calonzo stated.

Government sources indicate that per capita generation of trash in urban places increases from 0.7 kilo to 1.2 kilos per day during the holidays. Based on the latest available data from the Metro Manila Development Authority, the metropolis generates some 7,600 tons of trash per day with plastics making up a big chunk.

The trend towards “plasticization,” as the EcoWaste Coalition puts it, is already taking a toll on the environment with illegally disposed plastics clogging the waterways and ultimately drifting into the already biologically dead Pasig River and Manila Bay.

Calonzo cited the discards survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace Southeast Asia in 2006 that found a flotilla of plastics bags and scraps ruining the famed Manila Bay.

The findings showed that 76% of the garbage floating in Manila Bay were mostly synthetic plastic materials, with plastic bags comprising 51%, sachets and junk food wrappers 19%, Styrofoams 5% and hard plastics 1%. The rest were rubber (10%) and biodegradable discards (13%).

Aside from causing urban flooding and marine pollution, the society’s voracious appetite for anything plastic is also driving climate change with the increased use of petrochemicals in the manufacture and transportation of plastic bags and packaging items.

To help mitigate the triple-pronged waste, climate and financial crisis, the EcoWaste Coalition advises consumers to refuse plastic bags and go for bayong or other reusable bags when they do their shopping for holiday necessities.

Vendors can also help by asking their customers if they need a plastic carry bag instead of automatically putting their merchandise into a disposable bag.

“Minimizing the use of plastic bags during the festive season will surely make Christmas shopping in Divisoria a more pleasant experience for the purse and the planet,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


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

11 December 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Lauds CBCP's Call to Eliminate Wasteful Consumption as Bishop Iñiguez Joins Drive for Zero Waste and the Closure of Dumps

Quezon City. The environmental advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition lauded as “timely and urgent” the latest appeal of the Catholic bishops on the Filipino people “to eliminate wasteful consumption.”

The pastoral letter on ecology “Upholding the Sanctity of Life” should serve as a stimulus for ecological conversion and for greater people’s involvement in the many environmental battles facing the nation, observed the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The bishops hit the nail on the head when they called on our people to get rid of wasteful consumption as crass consumerism is devouring Mother Nature’s finite resources and defacing her with ugly mines, dumps and garbage. Every step of the consumption trail further generates pollutants that are warming the planet,” Calonzo said.

“We find the bishops’ call to eliminate wasteful consumption as timely and urgent if we are to remedy and reverse the dreadful conditions of our environment,” Calonzo added.

Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Public Affairs Committee, explained that “as our people fall victim to crass consumerism, we see our society getting addicted to plastic bags and disposables, messing up our habitat, trashing our rivers and seas, and creating a legacy of contaminated dumpsites that threaten public health and the environment.”

The Catholic Church leader from the Diocese of Caloocan also conveyed his unity with the EcoWaste Coalition in calling for the closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of dumpsites and the implementation of the ecological Zero Waste resource management.

“Dumpsites are like gaping wounds of a nation stinking with litter and garbage. We must close and heal these wounds,” Bishop Iñiguez said.

According to Bishop Iñiguez and the EcoWaste Coalition, the continued dependence on dumping and landfilling has become a huge strain on the budget, a scourge on host communities and wildlife, and a curse on the climate.

“I throw my support to the push for Zero Waste resource management being made by the EcoWaste Coalition that will emulate Mother Earth’s closed-loop processes where products are designed to be recycled back to commerce or nature and where nothing is wasted,” Bishop Iñiguez added.

The EcoWaste Coalition also expressed hope that the latest CBCP’s pastoral letter will herald a serious rethinking within the Church on the practical ways of reducing the environmental impacts of religious feasts and rites.

“We hope that the bishops will soon come up with guidelines on how to green our fiestas to make them in harmony with the ecological reforms that our society badly need,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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

10 December 2008

People’s Coalition calls on Supreme Court to uphold Philippine Constitution as Japan-RP Pact enters into force

Quezon City. The Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition (MJJC) called on the Supreme Court to take decisive action on the constitutional and legal questions surrounding the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

The MJJC made this call in view of the Court’s inaction despite the looming implementation of the JPEPA, which is expected to take effect on Thursday.

It will be recalled that the MJJC on October 13, 2008 questioned the constitutionality of JPEPA and implored the Supreme Court to halt its implementation. Petitioners include the Alliance of Progressive Labor, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, EcoWaste Coalition, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services Inc., Kilusan Para sa Pagpapaunlad ng Industriya ng Pangisdaan, Mother Earth Foundation, NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Philippine Metal Workers Alliance and Akbayan Rep. Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel

“We have seen that the Supreme Court is perfectly capable of acting expeditiously on matters of grave national importance. Why then is it dragging its feet on an agreement that is potentially more devastating than Philippine membership in the World Trade Organization and is blatantly unconstitutional?” Atty. Golda Benjamin, lead counsel of the MJJC, asked.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura had exchanged diplomatic notes last month and set December 11, 2008 as the date that the JPEPA would enter into force.

JPEPA opponents had filed a case with the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the trade treaty and asking for a restraining order which the High Court had declined to grant.

“We ask the Honorable Supreme Court to give justice to the millions of poor Filipinos who will suffer needlessly because of the government’s failure to protect their rights and interests during the negotiation of the JPEPA. We call on our Honorable Justices to abide by their solemn duty to uphold the Philippine Constitution and defend the interests of the Filipino people,” Benjamin stated.

The MJJC also called on all Filipinos to exercise continued vigilance in the light of the impending implementation of the JPEPA.

“Philippine officials have asked us to ‘give JPEPA a chance.’ What they are really saying is, we have no choice but to accept the JPEPA because it’s already there. We refuse to accept such a defeatist attitude,” Josua Mata, Secretary General of the Alliance of Progressive Labor, said.

“Contrary to what some JPEPA apologists are saying, implementing JPEPA would only hasten the collapse of our industrial capacities that are now tottering as a result of the global crisis. After all, JPEPA severely constricts our policy space in the areas of trade and investments,” Mata
added.

The MJJC will monitor the implementation of the JPEPA very closely, publicly disclose its ill effects and hold government officials accountable and liable.

“We choose not to be defeated. This battle -- for economic justice, environmental integrity, national sovereignty, and Philippine pride -- is far from over,” the MJJC said.

The MJJC, a multisectoral people’s coalition, has vigorously campaigned for the Senate rejection of JPEPA on economic, environmental, constitutional, legal and ethical grounds.

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

Watch the Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff celebrates its 1 year anniversary with the launch of its international page: www.storyofstuff.com/international

Launched on December 4, 2007, the Story of Stuff website has now been viewed by 4.8 million people in 228 countries and territories around the world as well as in thousands of classrooms, conferences, offices, churches, synagogues, public TV channels and community meetings. The film has received a phenomenal response from all over the world, inspiring additional films,
study groups, songs, theater pieces and most importantly, a renewed public discourse about alternatives to the toxics-laden, consumer-frenzied focus of today's mainstream economy and culture.

In response to literally thousands of requests for translations, The Story of Stuff Project and Free Range Studios worked with friends around the world to translate the film into many languages. Ply Media donated its services to add the subtitling feature to the new international web page, allowing the film to reach beyond English-speaking communities. The international page currently includes subtitled versions of the film in 10 languages, plus English at the request of many hearing-impaired viewers. Additional languages, both in subtitled and dubbed versions, will be added to the international page throughout 2009.

The initial subtitled translations on the Story of Stuff international page are: Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Taiwanese, and Thai.

The creators of the Story of Stuff will continue to add to the Story of Stuff website, so please check back for more translations and other good stuff during the coming year.

If you would like to get on our mailing list for regular updates, please sign up at www.storyofstuff.com.


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

09 December 2008

Metro Residents Urged to Cut Holiday Trash

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog exhorted Metro Manila residents to break away from the habit of creating excessive holiday trash that has become as much of a custom as Christmas parties, Simbang Gabi and noche buena.

“The swelling garbage from the festive celebration can exact a heavy toll on the budget and the environment,” Romy Hidalgo, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

Garbage generation in the metropolis, according to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), increases from 3,000-4000 tons to 5,000-7,000 tons per day during the Christmas season.

Hidalgo explained that our failure to reduce what we throw means more public funds being spent for costly garbage collection and hauling to dumpsites at Pier 18 in Tondo, Manila, Tanza in Navotas, Payatas in Quezon City and to far-flung communities in Bulacan, Laguna, Pampanga and Rizal.

“Worst, garbage buried or burned converts a simple solid waste problem into a complex chemical waste problem with the formation and discharge of water-contaminating leachate, climate warming greenhouse gases and persistent organic pollutants,” Hidalgo emphasized.

“We therefore urge Metro Manila’s 12 million inhabitants to commit to a toxics-free Christmas tradition by preventing wastes and toxics through eco-friendly consumption and the 6 Rs,” Hidalgo said.

By 6 Rs, Hidalgo was referring to Reducing unnecessary purchases, Replacing toxic products in shopping list with ecological substitutes, Rejecting plastic bags and goods in multiple packaging, Reusing unwanted items and leftovers, Recycling glass, metal, paper, plastic and other recyclables, and Rotting kitchen, garden and other biodegradable discards into compost.

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that many local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila have yet to fully comply with the requirements of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000.

R.A. 9003, for instance, directs the establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in every barangay or cluster of barangays to facilitate the ecological and community-oriented program on waste reduction and management.

However, data sent by the MMDA to the EcoWaste Coalition show that only 436 out of the 1,695 barangays in the metropolis have set up their MRFs. In addition, there are 202 school-based MRFs in Metro Manila.

Another visible failure of the LGUs is the enforcement of the ban on littering, dumping and burning of discards as can be seen from the piling of illegally disposed trash in street corners, esteros and flood control stations

The EcoWaste Coalition renewed its call for the authorities and the citizens alike to get rid of the wasteful and toxic practice of dumping and burning discards on Christmas season and beyond.


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

08 December 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Urges DOH to Test Toys for Toxic Chemicals

Quezon City. A citizens’ coalition promoting a toxics-free Christmas urges the Department of Health to initiate a random testing of children’s toys to ensure that only safe toys are sold in the market during this season of gift-giving.

The release last week in the United States of a survey indicating that one in three toys has significant levels of toxic chemicals prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to ask Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to initiate a toys’ test in the Philippines.

“We are deeply disturbed by the use of hazardous chemicals in toys that can easily enter the young bodies of defenseless infants and children through ingestion, inhalation or skin contact,” retired nurse Elsie Brandes-De Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Kids are not in a position to make out the harmful ingredients on their toys. To prevent children’s exposure to hazardous materials, we ask the toy industry and the government, particularly Sec. Duque, to keep toys free of toxic chemicals,” De Veyra, who is also a member of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, added.

“We further ask Sec. Duque to initiate a review of the Philippine National Standards for Safety of Toys and the related DOH Administrative Order 2007-0032 to ensure that only non-toxic toys are sold in the country,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

The Ecology Center in Michigan released a consumer guide to toxic chemicals in toys at www.healthytoys.org based on laboratory tests of more than 1,500 popular children’s toys.

"Our hope is that by empowering consumers, manufacturers and lawmakers will start phasing out the most harmful substances immediately, and change the laws to protect children from toxic chemicals," Mike Shriberg, Ph.D., Policy Director of the Ecology Center, said.

Researchers tested the toys for arsenic, bromine, cadmium, chlorine, lead and mercury – some of the top chemicals linked to reproductive, developmental and hormonal disorders and various types of cancer.

The toys tested fall under different product categories, including action figures, activity gyms, art and crafts articles, backpacks, bath toys, building blocks, crib toys, dining and bibs, dolls, electronics, games and puzzles, jewelry, kids’ room decorations, musical instruments, preschool/interactive, sporting goods, pacifiers, play stations, rattles and teethers, squeeze toys, stuffed animals, trains, vehicles and construction toys.

Test results showed that children’s jewelry such as bead, bracelet, charm, earrings, keychain, necklace, pin, ring, and watch as the most contaminated product category.

Lead, a neurotoxin that can result to irreparable developmental disorders among children, was found in 20% of the products tested with some products far exceeding the 600 parts-per-million US federal standard for a product recall.

Some 27% of the toys tested were found to be made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the “poison plastic” that can create environmental and health hazards in its production, use and disposal.

Test results also showed that 62% of the toys tested contain low levels of chemicals of concern and that 21 percent are free of chemicals of concern.

These toys, researchers pointed out, look and feel no different than other children's products on the shelf, indicating that toys can be made free of unnecessary toxic chemicals.

In light of this latest report on toxic toys, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the government to regulate and get toxic chemicals out of toys, while it asked manufacturers and retailers not to sell toxic toys.

Last December 4, the EcoWaste Coalition launched its toxics-free Christmas campaign to encourage a cleaner and greener yuletide celebration that will minimize people’s use and exposure to hazardous chemicals

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

04 December 2008

COMPLETE GUIDE: Toxics-Free Pasko, Handog Natin sa Mundo

EcoWaste Coalition 50 Tips on How to:
  • Decorate Green

  • Give Green

  • Party Green

  • Clean Green

  • Rejoice Green


I. DECORATING GREEN:
Many Filipinos welcome the coming of Christmas with happiness, color and glitter as families show their feelings by adorning their house, work place, schools with decorations and symbols radiantly vibrating the spirit and warmth of the holidays. How can we avoid waste and toxic while decorating our havens?

1. Create your own belen (crib) using recycled materials that will reflect the profound meaning of the birth of the Redeemer amidst the simplicity and poverty of the manger.

2. Recycle decorations from previous celebrations or create new ones from discards or from what you already have. Decorate with used and biodegradable materials as much as possible.

3. Reuse old Christmas trees or create your own using potted plants or trees, twigs or broomsticks.

4. If you are to buy some holiday decorations, look for items that are locally made, non-toxic, reusable and require no electricity.

5. Avoid decorations and products that create waste and/or use hazardous chemicals such lead in paint; for art designs, opt for water-based, non-toxic decorative paints.

6. In lieu of Christmas lights, create a garland made of recycled materials such as old cards, gift wraps and ribbons in lieu of Christmas lights to prevent electric consumption.

7. If you really want to light up, use bulbs with low wattage to save on energy or better, choose safe, energy efficient and long lasting lights such as light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

8. Use Christmas lights sparingly. Consider lighting them on as Christmas nears and only when needed. Turn them off during day light. Switch them off whenever you’re away or asleep.

9. Avoid stringing too many Christmas lights. The number of lights and the size of your electric bills have nothing to do with the true spirit of Christmas.

10. Stop competing for the cutest, brightest and longest Christmas lighting in your neighborhood. Conserve electricity and celebrate in the savings that you can share with Christmas carolers in your neighborhood.


WATCH OUT: Some decorations and gift toys use disposable batteries, some of which contain highly toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. Throwing spent batteries, a form of electronic waste, to the bin or to the dump raises the possibility environmental contamination. In lieu of disposable batteries, opt for rechargeable ones.


II. GIVING GREEN:
Every Christmas a lot of us dig deep into our coffers to give our loved ones, especially the children, gifts to warm the heart or fill the belly. How do we avoid creating more holiday trash? How do we make sure we are not unwittingly poisoning the children? How do we tackle crass consumerism so that the real reason for the season is not drowned out by the festive celebration?

1. Collect unused gifts, old clothes, toys, books and other materials and donate them to a charitable institution.

2. Personalize gifts by making them yourself. Why not gift friends and family with your specialty dish, plants from your own backyard, scrapbooks, or a CD music selection.

3. Volunteer your time and talents to projects and services for the community and the environment. Ask your barangay, church, school or organization how you can be of help.

4. Give old items that you already have a new look. This not only prevents waste generation, it also allows room for personal creativity. It also gives the receiver the feeling that you took the time and effort to create for her/him.

5. When buying gifts, choose eco-friendly products that do not come from old-growth forests, contain no GMOs, are not fossil fuel based, nontoxic, and not made from child or abusive labor practices.

6. Give products, delicacies from your province. Go for fruits, vegetables, plants, sweets, condiments, decorative and functional crafts, etc.

7. Give environment-friendly gifts made of recycled materials or products or services that advocate sustainable living. Share items that will teach recycling such as handouts, primers and manuals on the different kinds of recycling.

8. Choose gifts that do not need to be wrapped such as potted plants, massage from blind masseurs, gift checks, concert tickets, raffle tickets etc.

9. If you need to wrap the gift, use old magazines or newspapers (especially the comics section), old bandannas, etc. You can also use craft paper and jazz it up with colored pencils.

10. Call or send e-card to family and friends with Internet access. Create your own greeting card to give it a more personal touch or buy cards from groups with a special mission or advocacy.


WATCH OUT: Ensure that gifts, especially toys, school supplies and instructional materials for children, do not contain hazardous ingredients such as bisphenol A, lead, mercury and other chemicals of concern. Carefully read the product labels. If the information is inadequate or is written in a language that you do not understand, better not buy it. You have the right to be informed and to be protected against dishonest or misleading product label or advertisement.


III. PARTY GREEN:
No Christmas is complete without the office party or the family reunion. But before we start spending for sumptuous meals and putting on those extra pounds, plan in advance to make your “salo-salo” not only healthy and environmentally-friendly, but also sensitive to the widespread poverty around us. How do we make it sure that party discards will be managed well and not end up in far away communities where they are dumped or burned?

1. Prepare for modest festivities and use party savings to bring Christmas cheer to deprived families and communities. Refuse to organize lavish and wasteful parties. Collectively decide in favor of more austere gatherings and give the money saved to individuals or families in need.

2. If food is catered, request for reusable utensils. If food is bought from restaurants, bring containers to avoid throw-away plastic and Styrofoam containers, which only end up in dumpsites and water bodies. Ask the caterer to provide bins for biodegradable waste for big parties. Refrain from using throw-away utensils and plastic and Styrofoam containers. Go for reusables that can be washed and reused.

3. Announce a no left-over suggestion before the party starts to prevent wasting food.

4. Ensure the ecological management of discards: reuse and recycle the non-biodegradables, feed the food leftovers to animals or compost them to make nutrients for healthy soils. Announce that there are bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards for small parties.

5. Choose reusable cloth napkins instead of single use paper napkins. You can make cheap cloth napkins from cheesecloth or flour bags. Simply wash and store for future use. Use a little starch to make them more presentable and to give a new look all the time.

6. Choose healthy and, if possible, vegetarian dishes.

7. Avoid foods cooked with trans fat, use our local cooking oil made from coconut oil

8. Avoid soft drinks. Prepare juices from calamansi, dalanghita and other healthy sources like kamias, tanglad etc. Use brown or muscovado sugar as sweeteners.

9. Avoid junk food like chips, for appetizers. Instead prepare vegetable strips, small chunks of boiled saba, camote,

10. Use fruits for dessert instead of pastries that use a lot of white sugar and are more expensive because of packaging which are mostly non-biodegradable.


WATCH OUT:
The chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor, can leach from warming food in containers marked “microwave-safe,” and can expose infants to high doses of this hazardous chemical. As a precautionary measure, do not microwave food or beverages in plastic or heat plastic cling wraps.


IV. CLEANING GREEN:
Advertisements made us believe that the way to keep our homes clean is to buy these mainstream easily-accessible cleaning products. Little did we know that these products that have chemical contents (often difficult to read and pronounce) are dangerous to both our health and the environment. They may be effective in getting rid of bad bacteria but they also kill good bacteria and poison our bodies, too, thus the need to make cleaning green and safe.

1. Go for natural, inexpensive and easily accessible household cleaning substitutes. It helps to keep basic ingredients for your non-toxic cleaning recipes like:

    • Baking Soda which cleans and deodorizes

    • Lemon Juice which cuts grease, deodorizes and freshens.

    • Plant/vegetable based soap. Avoid soaps with strong scents, colors and other additives as they sometimes contain artificial fragrances and unnecessary chemicals.

    • White Vinegar – disinfects and freshens

    • Washing Soda - Cuts grease and removes stains. Disinfects. Softens water. Available in laundry section of grocery store or in pure form from chemical supply houses as "sodium carbonate."


2. Explore environment-friendly, natural, organic and safer cleaning materials available in the market. Never compromise your family’s health and safety by buying cheap but toxic-ridden products.

3. Ensure safety by reading the label of the products you buy. It is important that you know what chemicals are in the product you use and its possible impacts to your health

4. Store cleaning materials and ingredients safely out of children’s reach. Properly labelled cleaning materials will also help avoid confusion.


5. When you feel the urge to clean up your room, think before you throw. Donate clothes, books and other items that can still be reused to your neighbors, parish or favorite charity. Segregate items that can be recycled.

6. Refrain from using insecticides as they contain many hazardous substances. Seek information on natural pest control and environment friendly alternatives to toxic chemicals.

7. Never burn your discards as this will release dangerous pollutants such as dioxins and particulate matters, while destroying materials that could have been recycled or composted.

8. Use damped cloth when dusting. This will keep the dust from moving around the house avoiding inhalation of these allergens. Avoid using paper towels to clean up your mess. More trees are cut to produce these towels. Protect the trees, use reusable towels and rags instead.

9. Make sure that you ventilate the room very well when cleaning up. This will make fumes dissipate faster especially when using toxic-cleaners.

10. Save on water, electricity and cleaning materials as you do your chores. Read and learn more about green cleaning substitutes and take time to share these tips with your friends.


V. REJOICE GREEN:

Bursting firecrackers can cause serious if not fatal injuries. Incorrect handling of firecrackers can lead to the loss of limbs, lives and properties. Also, blasting firecrackers produces smoke and dust loaded with harmful chemical compounds, aggravating the already poor air quality, causing throat and chest congestion and other health problems, particularly for those with asthma and chemical sensitivities. What are the alternative noisemakers that we can use to herald the New Year minus the bloodshed and the noxious cocktail of pollutants dirtying the air?


1. Blow traditional horns or "torotot" to welcome the New Year.

2. Place pebbles, seeds or coins in used tin cans, beverage containers or soap boxes for improvised maracas or shakers.

3. String together bottle caps or "tansan" for recycled tambourines

4. Bang pot lids, pans or washbasins.

5. Strike bamboo or any wooden slat.

6. Knock empty coconut shells.

7. Play your favorite musical instruments.

8. Honk bicycle or car horns.

9. Clap your hands and stumping your feet.

10. Sing, dance or shout at the top of your lungs and wishing everyone a "Happy New Year."


WATCH OUT: Setting off firecrackers and other polluting noisemakers also leaves behind residual waste such as paper scraps, cellophane and plastic wrappers, and PVC pipes that add to the piles of holiday trash. In lieu of "bawang," "sinturon ni hudas," "baby rocket," "trompillo," sparklers, "atomic big triangulo," "pla-pla," "lolo thunder," "super lolo" and "watusi" (the last five are officially banned), the Ecowaste Coalition urges New Year revelers to opt for safe and eco-friendly noisemakers.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium,
Matalino Street, Quezon City
(+63) 29290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

www.ecowastecoalition.org

EcoWaste Coalition Campaigns for a Toxics-Free Christmas

Quezon City. As the pomp and glitter of the most festive time of the year unfolds, a waste and pollution watchdog warns the people to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from the many toxic threats lurking behind the dazzle of the season.

The EcoWaste Coalition sounds the clarion call for a toxics-free Christmas celebration, to rid the traditional merrymaking of practices that pose chemical dangers to public health and the environment.

In a press conference held today, the EcoWaste Coalition warmly invited Filipinos from all walks of life to heed its call for a “Toxics-Free Pasko: Handog Natin sa Mundo” (“Toxics-Free Christmas: Our Gift to the World”).

The timely initiative is part of the ongoing effort of the EcoWaste Coalition to inform consumers about the risks and dangers of exposure to hazardous chemicals, and empower them to make sound decisions on what practices, products and services to choose.

“We hope to educate and encourage the public to be cautious about what they buy, consume, give and discard during the joyful holidays, to avoid exposing their families and neighborhoods to nasty chemicals that could make them very sick,” said actor and green warrior Roy Alvarez of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Beauty queens for the environment led by Karla Paula Henry, Miss Earth 2008, conveyed their solidarity with this well-timed advocacy for a greener Christmas. Accompanying her at the press conference were Andrea Leon, Miss Ecuador 2008; Marie Raquel Equia, Miss Philippines-Air 2008; Michelle Oblea, Miss Philippines-Water 2008; Kristelle Lazaro, Miss Philippines-Fire 2008; and Cathy Untalan, Executive Director, Miss Earth Foundation (MEF).

Miss Henry and Miss Untalan sat in the panel of green advocates, with popular TV host Juddha Paolo, and Zero Waste activists Roy Alvarez, Gigie Cruz and Sonia Mendoza who took turns in discussing ecological alternatives to some toxic practices that people often take for granted as they enjoy the holidays.

DECORATING GREEN. Miss Earth beauty queens Karla Henry and Cathy Untalan talked about “decorating green” with eco-friendly ornaments such as the traditional “belen” and “parol” from used or locally-sourced biodegradable materials to impart the true message of Christmas, which bared itself in the simplicity of the Babe in the Manger.

GIVING GREEN. Juddha Paolo spoke about “giving green” with eco-gift ideas that do not imperil children’s health and safety with hazardous chemicals, do not promote a culture of violence, and do not add to the usual mountains of holiday trash. His gift ideas include giving non-material gifts such as teaching a skill or participating in community endeavors.

PARTYING GREEN. Sonia Mendoza, chairperson of the Mother Earth Foundation, enumerated practical tips on “partying green” this Christmas by making a deliberate decision not to throw lavish and wasteful celebrations, including using only reusable party ware and segregating party discards for easy recycling or composting.

CLEANING GREEN. Gigie Cruz of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives shared some information about “cleaning green” using non-toxic cleaning materials as we spruce up our homes for the holidays, avoiding pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides that contain very harmful substances, and not dumping or burning trash.

REJOICING GREEN. Roy Alvarez, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition, dealt with “rejoicing green” to welcome the New Year without blasting expensive and polluting firecrackers and fireworks or burning used tires, and instead using substitute noisemakers that emit no pollutants and pose no threat to life and limb.

During the media event, youth artists from the Malayang Sining Community Theater (MASCOMTHEA) presented a mime-dance showing how the health of children can be put at risk with exposure to hazardous substances such as lead in toys. Lead is a chemical that can cause devastating brain damage in children.

At the press conference, the beauty queens, environmental activists and youth artists staged a tableau mimicking the scene of nativity with the “Three Kings” paying homage to the Child (represented by a paper mache globe) as traditional lanterns pasted with the label “toxics-free” adorn the place.

The campaign for a “Toxics-Free Pasko,” the EcoWaste Coalition said, should contribute to better attention being given by the government and other stakeholders on the adverse health effects caused by the exposure to hazardous chemicals in line with the chemical safety objectives of the Strategic Approach on International Chemicals Management (SAICM) that the Philippines and other governments agreed to pursue.

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

01 December 2008

Global Movement Pushes for “Zero Waste” to Combat Climate Change

MANILA, Philippines. As thousands of government officials, civil society advocates and other participants gather in Poznan, Poland to negotiate a new climate change treaty, a global alliance
of public interest groups campaigns for decisive steps to cut green house gas (GHG) emissions from dirty waste disposal practices.

Groups united within the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), including the EcoWaste Coalition of the Philippines, urged governments to adopt Zero Waste as an essential strategy to spur dramatic reduction in GHG from landfills and incinerators.

As part of the yearly Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration, some 165 groups from 39 countries seeking environmental, climate and economic justice wrote to their government negotiators asking them to incorporate Zero Waste into their deliberations and plans at the Poznan climate talks.

In Manila, actress Chin-Chin Gutierrez, Ret. Col. Carlos Baltazar (representing Mayor Alfredo Lim) and members of GAIA and the EcoWaste Coalition assembled at the Liwasang Bonifacio and undraped a giant globe made of trash to urge the nation to put a stop to the wasting cycle that is warming the fragile planet.

Organizers chose the historic location for the event to mark the 145th birth anniversary of revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio and to emphasize the heroic role that all caring citizens can play to defend humans and other life forms from the ill effects of the waste and climate crisis.

Among the groups represented in the event were the Alaga LAHAT, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, EcoWaste Coalition, GAIA, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Earth UST, Malayang Sining Community Theater, Mother Earth Foundation, Sining Yapak, Soljuspax and Zero Waste Philippines.

“We join the global push for ‘Zero Waste for Zero Warming’ to shift from costly and GHG-producing waste disposal to a climate friendly program that will also stimulate green investment, infrastructure and livelihood to benefit the economy and society,” stated Rei Panaligan of the EcoWaste Coalition.

For her part, Gigie Cruz of GAIA said: “We urge the Philippine delegation to Poznan, led by presidential adviser Heherson Alvarez, to speak to the delegates about the many-sided advantages of embracing Zero Waste, the cheapest and fastest strategy that the global community can act upon to reduce GHG emissions.”

To drive her point, Cruz cited US figures showing that each household that recycles easy-to-recycle items is equal to one car off the road; that doubling the recycling rates will mean 25% of homes off the electric grid; and that an incremental approach to Zero Waste is equivalent to shutting 21% of coal-fired power plants.

Zero Waste, the groups explained, aims to reduce to zero the volume and toxicity of materials being disposed to landfills and incinerators by creating a closed-loop economy where all discards are reused, repaired, recycled or composted and implementing clean production, extended producer responsibility and other policies to redesign goods that cannot be safely reused, recycled or composted.

Zero Waste, they added, will put a lid to the wasting and warming cycle that requires new resources to be pulled out of the earth, processed in factories, shipped around the world, and burned or buried in our communities – a process that leaves a trail of GHGs and other toxic health and environmental pollutants.

In a statement of concern on waste and climate change, GAIA, in addition to urging governments to adopt Zero Waste, also recommended that mitigation funds to be used in the waste sector should support Zero Waste projects.

According to GAIA, incinerators, landfills, and other "waste-to-energy" projects which undermine Zero Waste should be ineligible for mitigation funds, offset credits and other forms of climate-related financing and subsidies.

The full text of said GAIA statement can be downloaded at: http://no-burn.org/cc


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