06 December 2009

Environmentalists and Cyclists Bike for Toxic-Free Christmas

Quezon City. As Christmas approaches, more than 100 bikers from various cycling and environmental groups pedaled for 27 kilometers around Metro Manila to entice the public to observe a toxic-free yuletide season.

Dubbed as “Bike Ride for Toxic-Free Christmas,” the cycling event kicked off from Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, traversed the streets of Manila City where a short program was held at Liwasang Bonifacio, and ended at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

Organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and Cycling Advocates (CYCAD), bike enthusiasts wearing jerseys that say “right to ask, right to know” toured major thoroughfares to raise awareness on the right and responsibility of consumers to seek and use information wisely in order to avoid unwanted chemical risks and exposures.

Through the unique emission-free public outreach, the groups urged consumers to be mindful of the “hazards” posed by popular yuletide activities such as shopping and gift-giving that could potentially expose consumers to various chemicals of concern such as toxic metals like lead in toys.

“We as consumers need to be extra vigilant during this festive season to safeguard ourselves and the people we love from harmful chemicals and toxins that may lurk in gifts that we will give and receive,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“By exercising our consumer right to truthful information, we equip ourselves with knowledge essential for making safe choices,” he said.

“By doing so, we also encourage business and industry to duly recognize and respect our right to information and our right to chemical safety,” Dizon added.

The event saw cycling aficionados and advocates from Ban Toxics, Concerned Residents of Marikina Valley, Daang Tubo Bikers Earth UST, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, , Las PiƱas Bike Club, Libis Bikers’ Club, Montalban Bikers’ Club and Sining Yapak espousing the consumer right to information.

Also present were representatives of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and SALIKA.

"We as bikers advocating for a pollution-free environment have to take part in spreading awareness among the citizens about the inevitable danger brought by harmful chemicals, especially in Christmas toys," said Jun Salaveria, President of CYCAD.

To assist consumers in making sound gift choices this Christmas, the EcoWaste Coalition has released a “Guide on Giving Green” with practical tips on how to prevent toxic buys as well as holiday trash.

“Ensure that gifts, especially toys, school supplies and instructional materials for children, do not contain hazardous ingredients such as bisphenol A, phthalates, lead, mercury and other chemicals of concern,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“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,” the group pointed out.


ECOWASTE COALITION’S GUIDE ON 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?


Here are 12 tips from the EcoWaste Coalition:

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

2. Personalize gifts by making them yourself. Why not gift your family and friends 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, non-toxic, and not made from child or abusive labor practices.

6. If you are buying toys, select those that are adequately and truthfully labeled, age-appropriate, locally-made, safe and void of harmful substances.

7. Patronize toys that promote a culture of creativity, harmony, and peace, and not that of prejudice, war and violence.

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

9. 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.

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

11. 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.

12. 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, phthalates, 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.

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