31 January 2009

Health and Environment Advocates Push for Chemical Safety

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog pressed for stronger curbs on harmful chemicals to ensure the safety of consumers amid brewing concern over the presence of toxic substances in products that can damage human health and the environment.

The EcoWaste Coalition called for stringent policy and regulation of chemicals at the conclusion of their workshop on chemical safety at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City that gathered 150 public health and environmental advocates from Metro Manila and from other parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

“By calling for tighter rules on chemicals, we want to halt the unwanted intrusion of harmful chemicals into our bodies as we also seek to protect our vital life support systems from being poisoned. Chemical trespassing has to stop,” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives said.

“We urge the government, particularly the health, environment and trade agencies, to act with urgency to stop chemical pollution that is already jeopardizing the health of our people, especially the pregnant women, developing fetus, infants, children, elderly, and the agricultural,
industrial, healthcare and waste workers,” Calonzo added.

The “Citizens’ Statement for the Protection of Consumers against Toxic Chemicals” adopted by the participants outlined the basic principles that should guide the formulation of a holistic chemicals regulatory regime that will promote human and ecological health and safety.

Foremost among these is the precautionary principle, which refers to the application of precautionary measures to prevent or minimize potential adverse effects to people’s health and the environment of an activity even if cause and effect relationships are not fully established
scientifically.

Participants, mostly from grassroots communities, also expressed their commitment to contribute to the United Nation’s goal of promoting chemical safety as detailed in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

SAICM seeks “the sound management of chemicals throughout their life-cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment."

The “Citizens’ Statement” stressed the need of consumers to have access to vital chemical data, including information on their health effects and disposal, to facilitate informed choices on what to consume and what to reject.

Consumers, the EcoWaste Coalition said, should insist on their personal and collective “right to know” and demand that only safe and toxics-free products are sold in the market.

By asserting our purchasing power and making the smart choice of not buying goods whose production, sale, use and disposal may damage our bodies and the ecosystems can hasten industry shifts to safer substitutes, including non-chemical alternatives,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

Towards a toxics-free future, the participants agreed to pursue Zero Waste that will cut not only the volume but also the toxicity of discards and pressed for a ban on toxic substances such as lead, mercury, phthalates and bisphenol A in toys, children’s products, medical devices and other
consumer items.

The participants expressed their support for ongoing campaigns to ban the aerial spraying of pesticide, to enact picture-based health warnings on cigarette packs, and to defend breastmilk, “the first Zero Waste food,” from industry attacks and chemical pollution.

Specific recommendations were also made to the Departments of Health, Environment and Natural Resources, and Trade and Industry as well as to the academe, church, industry and civil society.

Companies were particularly asked to embrace the principle of sustainability, design for the environment, and be liable for the whole cost of pollution and injury from the production, sale, use and disposal of toxic chemicals in their products.

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

30 January 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for Consumers' Right to Chemical Safety

Quezon City- In the face of lingering consumer anxiety over chemically tainted food, toys and other consumer products, an environmental coalition urged government regulators and industrial manufacturers to honor the consumers’ “right to know,” stressing that such access to information is vital in preventing potential exposure from harmful chemicals and protecting public health.

The EcoWaste Coalition made this clarion call for consumer welfare at a national workshop on chemical safety held in the University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus on January 27-28 to underscore how top chemicals of concern poison humans and the environment and figure out how consumers can be protected from exposure to these harmful substances.

The workshop, which drew the participation of 150 health and environmental campaigners, was held against the backdrop of increased local and global concern over the presence of a host of toxic chemicals in products such as formaldehyde in candies, pesticide residues in food crops, melamine in milk, bisphenol A in plastic feeding bottles, lead and phthalates in toys, mercury in healthcare devices and flame retardants in textiles and electronics.

Keynote speaker Von Hernandez, founding convenor of the EcoWaste Coalition and executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, pointed out that the continuing chemical pollution of the environmental represents grave threats to human health and the viability of planetary life-support systems to sustain life.

“The fact that every child born today already carries a heavy burden of toxic chemicals in its fragile body is compelling proof that we are already living in the era of massive chemical use and exposure. Our unsustainable lifestyles, defined among others by an increasing and almost
blind reliance on products containing toxic substances, are making us unwitting participants in our own undoing,” Hernandez said.

Chemical body burdens, including naturally-occurring heavy metals and synthetic agricultural and industrial chemicals such as dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls and pesticides, get into the body through inhalation, ingestion, or in some cases, dermal contact. These toxic chemicals are also transmitted to the developing fetus through the placenta during pregnancy.

“As responsible citizens and consumers, we must marshal and harness our political and economic power to apply pressure on both government and industry to keep our bodies and the environment free of these toxic burdens. We must demand the right to know the type of chemicals present in these various products as well as their impacts on health and the
environment. Moreover, the burden of proving that these substances are safe before they could be deployed into commerce must fall on the manufacturers and not on the consuming public," Hernandez added.

Manny Calonzo, president of the EcoWaste Coalition and co-coordinator of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, added that consumers have a paramount role to play in pressuring the industry to adopt a substitution policy that will replace toxic substances in production
processes and in products with non-toxic substances.

“We can influence and even accelerate industry shifts from toxic to safer substitutes, including non-chemical alternatives, by asserting our purchasing power and making the intelligent choice of not patronizing goods whose production, use and disposal may further contaminate our
bodies and the environment. For us to do this, consumers should demand full corporate disclosure on the chemicals of concern in their products.

It is no longer acceptable for consumers to be kept in the dark and denied this information,” Calonzo said.

Other experts from the government and the civil society emphasized the need to fuse and upgrade scattered policies on chemicals to foster their sound management and minimize the risks and dangers, especially to the most vulnerable groups such as the infants, young children, pregnant women, elderly, agricultural and industrial workers and waste pickers.

The workshop participants particularly called on the government to review how current policies and practices fit into the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management or SAICM that was adopted by the Philippines and over 100 countries in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 6
February 2006.

SAICM, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, is a very useful tool that can guide far-reaching reforms on how chemicals are produced, used and disposed in order to reduce contamination and injury to humans and the environment.


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

23 January 2009

PGMA as “Green Czar” Draws Critical Reactions from Environmentalists

Quezon City. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appointment of herself as “green czar” has drawn critical comments from environmentalists working on waste, energy and climate issues.

Environmental leaders particularly dismissed her decision as contained in Executive Order 776 to create 14 task groups, including one on solid waste management, to oversee various facets of environmental conservation, protection and restoration.

“This appears to be a rebuke of the erstwhile bodies responsible for these tasks. But what the country needs is a comprehensive policy and coordinated action on climate change as soon as possible, especially adaptation for our most vulnerable sectors. It’s confusing and counter-productive to have several government agencies charged with the same tasks. I hope this won’t turn out to be ‘all sound, no fury’ pronouncement,” said Marie Marciano, President of Mother Earth Foundation and Vice-President of Philippine Network for Climate Change.

"As for solid waste, what has always been needed is to implement the law, not another body, not bad and costly 'solutions' like landfills," Marciano added.

“Creating a task group on solid waste is totally redundant since there is supposed to be a multiagency National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) assigned to lead the implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. Although the Commission has not been effective, what is needed is to revamp, energize and strengthen it
and ensure it performs,” Romy Hidalgo, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition, commented.

Hidalgo observed that “a casual look at our littered streets, garbage-clogged canals and rivers, and overflowing, and at times smoldering, dumps is enough to show how lackluster R.A. 9003’s
implementation has been.” The latest available data from National Solid Waste Management Commission website shows that some 806 open dumps and 379 controlled dumps are still operating throughout the country despite the national ban under R.A. 9003, the first law that Arroyo signed when she assumed the presidency.

“Notwithstanding good intentions, this is a stinging rebuke of the DENR’s failure to implement the law. Eight years after GMA signed R.A. 9003, we are nowhere close to meeting waste reduction targets. Creating another body won’t solve the problem, simply implement the law,” said Von Hernandez, founding convenor of the EcoWaste Coalition and current Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“As climate czar, GMA could do a lot more by ensuring the effective implementation of the Renewable Energy law, and guaranteeing that dirty coal and nuclear energy will not override the mainstreaming of clean, renewable energy sources in the country,” Hernandez added.

“GMA’s latest ‘czarism’ should be keenly watched as it invites doubts on the programs and purported honest intentions as they are ‘band-aid approaches’ to elemental shortcomings of governance. We should all watch out for and be wary about concomitant costs of ‘czarism’,” said Rene Pineda, President, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution (COCAP).


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

22 January 2009

LETTER: Happy Anniversary for RA 9003?

Happy Anniversary for RA 9003?

What ever happened to the first law signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001?

This January 26 would be the 8th year that Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003 was signed into law. Yet, a casual look at our littered streets, garbage-clogged canals and rivers, and overflowing, and at times smoldering, dumps is enough to show how lackluster its implementation has been.

While the law mandates the closure of all open dumps by February 2004, the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) website shows 806 open dumps still in operation. And while all “controlled” dumps should have been closed by February 2006, the Commission's data still yield some 379 “controlled” dumps in the country.

The law emphasizes waste avoidance and volume reduction through the adoption of best practices in ecological waste management, but the mindset favoring costly, resource-destructive and climate-negative “sanitary” landfills persists especially to most of our public officials.

Instead of stopping dumping by inculcating zero waste in the minds of the public through systematic waste prevention, reduction, reusing, recycling and composting, “sanitary” landfills tell us "it's okay" to continue with our wasteful habits.

We therefore urge the government and the entire society to be serious about implementing the law. The R.A. 9003 anniversaries would come and go, but unless serious political will is employed against violators, the event would always just come and, yes, GO!


Romeo Hidalgo
Secretary, Eco Waste Coalition
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com
Unit, 320 Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St.
Barangay Central, QC

19 January 2009

BOC Urged to Stop Entry of Banned Toys from US

Quezon City. The impending implementation of far-reaching safety regulations for toys and other children’s products in US might result to a massive recall of proscribed items that could eventually find their way to the Philippines and other nations with less stringent requirements.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for zero waste and chemical safety, raised this potential scenario as the US government is set to put into force on 10 February 2009 the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

“Old and new inventories of toys, child care articles and other children’s products that will not pass the rigorous US safety requirements might end up in local toy stores, shopping malls, Divisoria or even in ukay-ukay shops,” warned Manny Calonzo, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The threat of unsafe toys being shipped to the Philippines is real. We have therefore asked the Bureau of Customs to prepare a contingency plan that will foil any attempt to bring unsafe toys into the country’s ports. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he added.

In a letter faxed today to the office of Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales, the Steering Committee of the EcoWaste Coalition called on the BOC “to take precautionary and preventive action to protect our children from imminent exposure to toxic chemicals in unsafe toys.”

Quoting information from the website of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the sale of children’s products containing more than 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead is banned beginning 10 February 2009, with even lower limits to take effect in the coming years. Lead, a heavy metal, is a known neurotoxin that can damage the nervous system, particularly among kids, and cause mental retardation, lowered intelligence quotient and blood, kidney and heart diseases.

The new law makes it illegal to manufacture any children's toy or child care article that contains more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals used as plastic softeners in a wide range of consumer and personal care products.

The new law further requires mandatory third party testing and certification for all children's products, permanent tracking label requirements for all children's products, and hazard warning requirements for advertisements of certain toys and children's products.

The EcoWaste Coalition further appealed to local toy importers, ukay-ukay merchants and returning Filipinos from US not to fall into the trap of buying bargain toys that could potentially endanger the health and safety of children.

“The rejected toys will definitely sell cheap as unscrupulous companies and vendors try to clear their stocks. We hope that our toy importers and resellers will not be lured into purchasing the banned toys,” the EcoWaste Coalition pleaded.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged the 14th Congress, the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry to respond to the latest innovation in consumer product safety in US by strengthening existing regulations and standards that will promote chemical safety and uphold the children’s right to health and to a toxics-free environment.


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

18 January 2009

LETTER: False Solutions

Secretary Lito Atienza's failure to honor his promise of taking legal action against local government officials who continue to defy the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law or Republic Act 9003 after his six month ultimatum cast doubts on the sincerity of the DENR in enforcing the law.

Ended last November 2008, the Secretary uttered the ultimatum as a warning to all local government officials to comply immediately to the law by closing down their hazardous dumps or else face legal battle with his department.

Based on the latest data of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), there are still 712 existing open dumps and 273 controlled dumps in the country. RA 9003 mandates the phase out of all open dumps by February 2004 and all controlled dumpsites by February 2006.

Worse, Atienza is promoting false solutions to garbage woes by advocating constructions of more landfills. His proposed P2.8 billion in grants to be allocated by the national government to local officials to convert dumps to landfills will undermine the efforts of communities towards zero waste solutions.

Sanitary landfills are hazardous facilities, contaminating the ground and water of leachate and aggravating climate change through the continuous release of methane gas. It is very expensive and for proponent to recover its capital, it needs more production and dumping of solid waste. Landfills will end up as financial burdens to host communities.

Instead of subsidizing false solutions, Atienza should support local government officials by capacitating barangays and communities to work towards ecological solid waste management. Educational seminars and incentives can help gain the support to practice of waste minimization, segregation at source, maximizing natural resources through composting, reuse and recycling and development of markets for recyclables. Coupled with mandating industry to practice clean production and use renewable resources, genuine garbage solutions could be achieved.

For years, we practiced the collect-dump system and relied on dirty technologies such as dumps and landfills. Why not push for a community-based, local and participatory solution to garbage woes, this time?


REI PANALIGAN
Coordinator
EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino Street, Quezon City
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

16 January 2009

Mga Banderitas sa Tondo Pabigat sa Kalikasan

Lungsod ng Quezon. Pinuna ng isang grupong kontra basura at aksaya ang mga makukulay na banderitas sa Tondo at iba pang lugar na magdiriwang ng kapistahan ng Mahal na Poong Santo Niño ngayong Linngo.

Ang sangkaterbang lastay, ayon sa EcoWaste Coalition, sa mga komunidad na magpipista ay pabigat sa Inang Kalikasan na matagal ng dumaraing sa lumalalang problema sa basura at polusyon.

“Sa kapal ng mga banderitas ay tila natakpan na ang langit at nagmistulang tambakan pa ng plastik,” pahayag ni Manny Calonzo, Pangulo ng EcoWaste Coalition.

Binatikos ng grupo ang paggamit ng mga lastay na gawa sa mga maninipis na supot na plastik, mga ginupit na plastik at mga mga patalastas ng iba’t ibang produkto na yari din sa plastik.

“Nakakalungkot na ang pista ni Santo Niño ay tila nagiging paligsahan para sa may pinakamakulay, pinakamahaba at pinakamakapal na banderitas na matapos ang ilang araw ay magiging basura at pahirap sa kalikasan at klima,” dagdag pa niya.

Ang mga basurang lastay, babala ng EcoWaste Coalition, ay tiyak na daragdag sa tone-toneladang mga basura na hinahakot at itinatambak sa mga kawawang lugar tambakan.

Nakiusap ang EcoWaste Coalition sa mga pinuno ng barangay na gamitin na lamang ang pera para sa mga palamuting banderitas sa mga bagay na tunay na makapagpapasaya, laluna sa mga bata.

“Ang badyet para sa mga banderitas ay maaaring idagdag na lamang sa mga papremyo para sa palaro o sa salo-salo para sa mga bata mula sa mahihirap na pamilya,” sabi ng EcoWaste Coalition.

Nananawagan ang EcoWaste Coalition kay Konsehal Numero Uno Lim ng Maynila na may akda ng isang panukalang ordinansa laban sa plastic bag na tututukan rin ang problema sa mga banderitas na plastik.

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

ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

12 January 2009

Fiesta Buntings Are Environmental Burdens

Quezon City. The colorful trimmings or banderitas lining up the streets of Tondo and other communities that will mark the feast of Santo Niño this coming Sunday are burdens on the environment.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, made this frank observation following a recent visit to the Tondo district, home of the famed Santo Niño de Tondo.

“During our visit, we were stunned to see the outrageous amount of plastic buntings in streets and alleys, which could easily make Tondo the undisputed banderitas capital of the country,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“The wild use of disposable buntings such as those made of plastic bags, product advertisements and packaging scraps indicates a sorry lack of awareness regarding the adverse impact of these single-use fiesta accessories to our environment and climate,” he added.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the colorful banderitas pose real environmental and climate burdens, particularly in terms of the large volume of fossil fuels needed to manufacture, transport and dispose the plastic materials for such a non-essential adornment.

The banderitas, the EcoWaste Coalition said, add to the tons of post-fiesta discards that are usually disposed through ecologically harmful practices such as dumping and burning, which destroy resources and produce toxic emissions.

The burning of plastic materials, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, can result to the creation and discharge of cancer-causing chemicals such as dioxins and furans, the most toxic man-made poisons known to science.

“Given the importance of reducing pollution in order to nurse back to health our deteriorating environment and climate, we find it imperative for the governmental and church authorities to institute proactive measures that will curb wasteful practices, including a ban on disposable plastic buntings,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

If fiesta organizers are really keen in putting up banderitas, the EcoWaste Coalition suggests the use of environment and climate-friendly alternatives that can be washed, stored and reused such as reusable buntings from fabric scraps.

Another good replacement to plastic buntings are the reusable cloth banners in bamboo poles as can be seen, for instance, in front of the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros and the Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate.

“With the growing movement to halt wasteful consumption that is cooking the planet, we hope that climate-negative banderitas will flutter no more in our festivities,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The EcoWaste Coalition believed that “the true essence of our time-honored festive celebrations does not rely on the length and color of plastic buntings crisscrossing our streets, but on how we relight our faith and share our community blessings through the fiesta.”

Instead of spending for disposable banderitas and “happy fiesta” banners, the EcoWaste Coalition proposes that the money be redirected to support necessary public information drive towards waste prevention and reduction, which can bring real cheer to residents and visitors and Mother Nature, too.


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

11 January 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Bewails Massive Breach of R.A. 9003 at Quiapo Fiesta

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog decried the out-and-out littering during the Quiapo fiesta last Friday as if the people’s faithfulness to the Black Nazarene is an excuse for litterbugs to ignore the law.

The EcoWaste Coalition lamented the blatant breach of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which among others, prohibits and penalizes all forms of littering.

The environmental group aired its grievance after the longest ever procession in honor of the eminent Black Nazarene icon that attracted millions of devotees also left the processional route littered with trash.

“From the Quirino Grandstand to Plaza Miranda, we were upset to see how the religious fervor in honor of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno was tarnished by the garbage left by the devotees, vendors, fiesta volunteers and guests as if littering is OK and integral to the devotion,” Manny
Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

Manila Department of Public Service (DPS) chief Ret. Col. Carlos Baltazar reported that some 19 trucks were required to clear affected streets, especially in Quiapo, of fiesta trash estimated at 124 tons.

Among the most littered items, observed the EcoWaste Coalition, were cigarette butts, bamboo skewers, plastic bags, bottles and drinking cups, and Styrofor containers, most of which were left lying in street gutters and corners.

R.A. 9003 lists the littering, throwing and dumping of waste matters in public places as prohibited acts punishable by a fine of 300 to 1,000 pesos or 1 to 15-day community service or both.

“The widespread littering during the Quiapo fiesta should serve as a wake up call to the church, community and Hijos del Señor Nazareno leaders to send a clear message to the devotees that spiritual devotion without ecological action is toxic to health, environment and climate,” Calonzo
said.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed hope that the plea to purify the devotion to the Black Nazarene of fanatical and superstitious excesses by Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and other church leaders will also stress the need to eliminate waste and pollution during the popular fiesta.

“The Quiapo and our other festive fiestas use too much resource, consume too much energy and yield too much garbage. We are called to green our fiestas so that they are celebrated within the constraints dictated by our ailing environment and warming climate,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The EcoWaste Coalition sought the establishment of the “Care of the Earth Ministry” at the Parish of St. John the Baptist (Quiapo Church) to, among others, initiate with the Parish Pastoral Council the “greening” of the devotion to the Black Nazarene.

The group further proposed that every chapter of Hijos del Señor Nazareno designates a person or a team to encourage and ensure devotees’ participation towards an eco-friendly devotion.

The EcoWaste Coalition also asked Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, District 3 Representative Zenaida Angpin and Councilors Joel Chua, Ernesto Isip, Jr., Ramon Morales, Yul Servo, Monina Silva and Manuel Zarcal to extend more support to barangay-level public information drive against littering and for the ecological management of discards.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition commended the “Green Brigade” composed of students from the Nazarene Catholic School and the City College of Manila and assisted by the Rizal Park janitors and vendors, “Police OYSTERS” and DPS staff for their fast effort to clear Quirino Grandstand of litter after the vigil and concelebrated Masses held there.

“We hope that a clean, green and safe fiesta will be our shared offering next time to the Black Nazarene,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.


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

03 January 2009

Malinis na Pista sa Quiapo Hiling sa mga Deboto

Maynila. Isang malinis at luntiang pista ang hiling ng EcoWaste Coalition, isang samahang kontra aksaya at basura, sa mga deboto na inaasahang daragsa sa Quiapo sa susunod na linggo.

“Kami ay nananawagan sa mga deboto, laluna sa mga mamamasan, na gunitain ang pista ng Quiapo sa paraang hindi mapag-aksaya at makalat,” pakiusap ni Manny Calonzo, Pangulo ng EcoWaste Coalition.

“Ang pagdiriwang na malinis at luntian ay tanda ng ating dalisay na pasasalamat, pananalig at parangal sa Mahal na Poong Nazareno,” wika pa niya.

“Sa pakikiisa ng mga deboto, tindero at mga pinuno ng simbahan at barangay ay tiyak na maiiwasan ang sanlaksang basura sa pista na hindi lamang pangit sa mata kundi banta rin sa kalusugan at kalikasan,” dagdag niya.

Ipinahayag ng EcoWaste Coalition ang kanilang pangamba na baka maulit ang marumi at makalat na tanawin sa Plaza Miranda at mga karatig pook na nasaksihan noong nakaraang pista.

Nagmistulang isang malaking tambakan ang Quiapo noon dahil sa sari-saring mga basura na walang patumanggang itinapon sa mga bangketa, daan at liwasan.

“Pagod na pagod ang mga tagawalis at tagapangolekta ng mga trak-trak na basurang iniwan na lang sa lansangan noong nakalipas na pista,” ayon sa EcoWaste Coalition.

Ang marumi at makalat na pista, puna ng EcoWaste Coalition, ay nakapagpapapusyaw rin sa magandang layunin ng pamamanata.

Tungo sa malinis at luntiang pagdiriwang ay iminumungkahi ng EcoWaste Coalition ang mga sumusunod na patnubay para sa mga deboto:

1. Iwasan ang paninigarilyo upang hindi makalikha ng basurang usok at upos.
2. Kung hindi maiiwasan ang sigarilyo, huwag ihagis kung saan-saan ang upos pagkatapos.
3. Ilagay sa tamang tapunan ang nginatang “chewing gum.”
4. Huwag dumura sa pader, bangketa o kalye.
5. Huwag umihi sa tabi-tabi.
6. Ibalik ang mga pinag-inuman at pinag-kainan sa pinagbilhan.
7. Isauli sa tindera ang pinagtuhugan ng paboritong miryenda tulad ng pritong saba o fishball.
8. Ilagay ang mga panapon sa tamang lalagyan at huwag na huwag magkalat.
9. Magbitbit ng “reusable bag” upang maiwasan ang paggamit ng plastic para sa anumang pasalubong bibilhin.


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

01 January 2009

Black Nazarene Devotees Urged to Go “Green”

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog fears a repeat of the massive littering in last year’s Quiapo fiesta when tons of trash were casually left in Plaza Miranda and the adjoining streets, giving rise to a virtual dumpsite.

With the popular fiesta drawing nearer, the EcoWaste Coalition pleaded to the maroon-clothed “Hijos del Señor Nazareno” (Sons of the Lord Nazarene) devotees to show leadership in making the mammoth gathering clean and green.

“The unrestrained littering during the Quiapo fiesta is a disgrace to our age-old devoutness to Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno to whom many of us come begging for relief and freedom from all troubles, including life-threatening diseases that could have resulted from a polluted environment,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“While deeply touched by the timeless devotion of Catholic Filipinos to the Black Nazarene, we cannot help but notice how the wellbeing of our fragile environment is often ignored by many devotees as they fervently fulfill their rituals and vows,” Calonzo added.

During the fiesta in 2008, the EcoWaste Coalition recalled, the streets of Quiapo were strewn with tons of plastic bags, drinking straws, plastic bottles, Styrofoam containers, food wrappers, bamboo skewers and cigarette butts.

What made the situation even worse, the EcoWaste Coalition deplored, was the large number of single-use plastic buntings and “happy fiesta” banners crisscrossing the streets, which later ended up as trash.

“With the 2010 polls just around the corner, more politicians are likely to make their presence felt in the coming fiesta by adding their lot to the unsightly banner extravaganza,” the EcoWaste Coalition lamented.

Soon after the Quiapo fiesta last year, the EcoWaste Coalition provided the offices of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales (Archbishop of Manila) and Bishop Broderick Pabillo (Auxiliary Bishop of Manila) with photos of littered streets and mini-dumps in Quiapo to stir up church action on our
society's alarming throw-away culture, especially in faith-inspired festivities.

To minimize trash at the upcoming Quiapo fiesta, the EcoWaste Coalition called to mind the four basic steps outlined by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin when he exhorted the faithful to make the 2003 World Meeting of Families in Luneta a “zero waste celebration of life.”

These are: 1) minimize the creation of waste by using as few resources as possible at the various events, 2) avoid using plastic and disposable items, 3) separate discards into biodegradable and non-biodegradable, and 4) put them into their proper containers to facilitate recycling and make
simpler the work of cleaners and collectors.

“Let us honor the Black Nazarene by blending the “maroon” with “green” towards an eco-friendly Quiapo fiesta,” the EcoWaste Coalition said as it released a nine-point “Green Tips” for the devotees to consider.

A green fiesta, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, fits well with the bishops’ plea for “every citizen to eliminate wasteful consumption” as written in their recent pastoral letter “Upholding the Sanctity of Life.”


GREEN TIPS FOR THE “HIJOS DEL SEÑOR NAZARENO”

1. Refrain from smoking, or better still quit for keeps, to avoid butt litter and serious tobacco-related diseases that kill 10 Filipinos every hour. You also protect other devotees from getting sick by not exposing them to toxins from secondhand smoke.

2. If you smoke, please don’t toss butts on the ground. Cigarette filters are non-biodegradable and they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the environment.

3. If you chew gum, do put it in a bin after you’re done with it If there is no bin close by, put the spent chewing gum back into the wrapper and wait until you see a bin. Don’t let barefoot devotees step on your chewing gum waste.

4. Please don’t spit on walls, sidewalks and streets. Spitting in public presents a serious health risk, especially to children who are more prone to disease-causing germs and bacteria.

5. Please do not urinate on the street. Urinating in public is unhygienic and pose social, health and environmental problems.

6. Return used food and beverage containers to the vendors and do not litter them anywhere. The plastic bag for the thirst-quenching “palamig,” for example, can clog the storm drains and later cause flooding in Quiapo.

7. Give back to the vendors used bamboo skewers for barbecue, grilled corn-on-the-cob, fried banana, fishball and kikiam as devotees can accidentally step on thoughtlessly thrown sticks and cause foot injuries.

8. Put your discards into the designated bins. Quiapo (and the whole country for that matter) is NOT a dumpsite. Let us keep the shrine of the Black Nazarene, including the route of the procession, litter-free.

9.If you are planning to bring home something for the kids, reduce plastic waste by bringing a reusable carry bag with you for the fruits, “kakanin” and other “pasalubong” that are plentiful in Quiapo.

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