29 March 2010

Holy Week Travelers Urged to “Think Outside the Bottle”

Quezon City. As city folk brace themselves for theseasonal “Semana Santa” pilgrimage or leisure trip, a waste and pollution watchdog issued a “prayerful reminder” for travelers to “think outside the bottle” and give up the bottled water habit.

The EcoWaste Coalition released its latest eco-advisory in time for the much anticipated Holy Week exodus where people take advantage of the long vacation to fulfill their religious vows, visit relatives or travel long distances to get away from the frenzy of urban life.

“We expect increased consumer demand for bottled beverages like bottled water as people hit the road or frolic on the beach under the broiling April sun,” said ChinChin Gutierrez of Alaga LAHAT and the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The ever increasing production and consumption of bottled water bring myriad environmental and health problems that consumers are hardly informed about, including the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the whole life cycle of bottled water, the potential leaching of chemicals from plastic bottles, microbial contamination due to poor regulation, and marine litter,” she added.

“For the sake of our planet, our one and only home and living Mother, we need to think outside the bottle. Let our true gratitude to God our Life Giver be shown through our thoughts, words and actions towards a Zero Waste society,” emphasized the film actress who has been internationally recognized for her environmental work.

“In lieu of single-use bottled water, we urge consumers to bring a reusable water jug, stainless steel or lined aluminum container filled with clean tap water or, if necessary, with boiled, filtered or purified water to cut on GHGs and trash. By making it a habit to bring our own ‘lalagyan,’ we avoid creating waste and pollution,” Gutierrez said.

"If buying bottled water cannot be avoided, consumers should dispose of the empty bottles in recycling bins to prevent hazards to human and ecological health. The practice of burning plastic bottles discharges chemical poisons such as dioxins, while discarding them on the street or on the beach pollutes the surroundings and threatens aquatic life," she added.

According to Ocean Conservancy’s “Marine Debris Index,” the Philippines registered the highest number of littered beverage plastic bottles in Southeast Asia, based on marine debris collected during the International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2008. The Philippines accounted for 20,238 pieces, followed by Singapore at 4,932, Thailand 3,216, Malaysia 2,046, Indonesia 681, and Vietnam 5.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the latest viral video craze “The Story of Bottled Water” launched on March 22, the World Water Day, to affirm its arguments against the bottled water habit that many Filipinos have unwittingly adopted.

The video outlines the various issues against bottled water such as “manufacturing” consumer demand through misleading advertising, the extraction and use of oil to produce water bottles, the emission of GHGs from the manufacture, transportation and disposal of water bottles, and dumping or burning of used bottles.

The video is available for free download at
http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/.

“The Story of Bottled Water” features environmentalist Annie Leonard, founder of the Manila-based Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) - the same storyteller of the video sensation “The Story of Stuff” that explains the pitfalls of consumption, which has been viewed by over 8.5 million people since its release in 2007. She is also the author of the book adaptation “The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities and Our Health, and a Vision for Change” that was launched last March 9, 2010.

“It is time we took back the tap. That starts with making a personal commitment to not buy or drink bottled water unless the water in your community is truly unhealthy. Then take the next step. Join the campaign that’s working for real solutions like demanding investment for clean tap water for all,” Leonard said in “The Story of Bottled Water.”

Per capita consumption of bottled water in the Philippines, according to ‘The World’s Water 2006-2007 Data,” rose from 16.3 liters per person in 1999 to 17.1 liters in 2004 as calculated by the Beverage Marketing Corporation.

"To turn the tide against bottled water, Filipino consumers further need to assert their right to drink healthy and safe water straight from the tap and insist that bottled water is no sustainable solution to our thirst for water,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


-end-

Information Sources:

http://www.storyofstuff.com/
http://www.worldwater.org/data20062007/Table13.pdf
http://www.pacinst.org/topics/water_and_sustainability/bottled_water/
http://www.oceanconservancy.org/pdf/2009_Marine_Debris_Index.pdf

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