23 November 2010, Quezon City. The country’s new batch of barangay and youth officials can instigate a range of creative initiatives to slash the anticipated Christmas “holitrash,” an environmental network pointed out.“Holitrash” is a word coined by the EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for sustainable lifestyle changes, to illustrate the enormous trash associated with the widely held observance of Christmas in the country.
In a bid to motivate the newly-installed Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials to think and act “green” this Christmas season, the EcoWaste Coalition has put together a list called “Barangay Simple” for a less wasteful celebration of the nation’s grandest fiesta.
Christmas ala-“Barangay Simple” means promoting and actually applying the basic 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to lessen the impact of the holiday consumption and merriment on the environment, the group said.
“Adopting a ‘Barangay Simple’ celebration will trim down the volume of earth’s resources that we use and throw away, while inculcating the profound simplicity of the birth of the Redeemer, the reason for the season, in our communities,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“As elected role models, we urge our Barangay and SK officials to espouse and lead the much needed ecological reforms in the community life, starting with the need to simplify Christmas,” he said.
Among those who contributed to the list were Rene Pineda of the Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Beau Baconguis of Greenpeace, Eileen Sison of the Institute for the Development of Education and Ecological Alternatives, Neneng Jocson of the Krusada sa Kalikasan, Cathy Untalan of the Miss Earth Foundation and Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation.
Here are some tips to become a “Barangay Simple” or darn close this yuletide season and beyond:
Refrain from putting up banderitas, especially buntings made from new plastic bags. Please don’t create a dumpsite in the sky!
Abstain from installing too many Christmas lights in the Barangay Hall and on the adjacent streets. You need not compete with the lights and glitters of the Araneta and Ayala Commercial Centers.
Give up “Merry Christmas” tarpaulins - it’s too “plastic” - and help lessen unwanted mess on the streets.
Avoid putting Christmas “noche buena” gifts for needy families in plastic bags. Place them in bayong or reusable bags instead.
Desist from organizing “disposable” Christmas parties. Stick to a Zero Waste theme, abandoning the use of convenient but throw-away plates, cups and utensils in favor of washable and reusable party wares. SK can adopt schools and orient them to have waste-free get-togethers.
Reduce fat, salt and sugar by serving nutritious “lutong bahay” in the barangay “pamaskong salu-salo,” avoiding junk food altogether.
Give raffle prizes that will inspire others to cut their trash and improve the quality of community environment such as reusable carry bags, vermi worms for composting, vegetable seeds for home gardening, bamboo shoots for riverbank remediation and other living gifts.
Set up trash cans (with proper segregation) around Churches during the nine-day “Simbang Gabi” (dawn Masses).
Organize local “Iwas PapuToxic” campaign to reduce firecracker-related injuries as well as toxic litter, smoke and noise.
Refrain from buying new Christmas decorations. Check the Barangay storeroom for ornaments that can still be repaired and reused.
Create the Barangay or Church belen (Christmas crib) with reused items.
Decorate only with minimal stuff that can be reused over and over again.
Organize a Barangay Ukay-Ukay (reusable/recyclable bazaar) from household, school and corporate donated items to raise funds for families in need.
Organize community- wide Christmas exchange gift of unwrapped “white elephant” or recycled gift items for kids and teeners.
Arrange a “Junk Exchange” where residents can bring and swap useful items such as outgrown clothes for children and adults from the closets.
Set up donation boxes at the Barangay Hall, places of worship and stores for used toys, books and clothes that can be distributed to the poor. The signage for the campaign can say something like “Give Mother Earth a Christmas gift, too, recycle!
Organize recycled toy-making contest.
Partner with homeowners’ associations and the informal waste sector to collect clean recyclables during and after the Christmas season.EcoWaste CoalitionUnit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.Quezon City, Philippines+63 2 email@example.com