Quezon City. As Christmas approaches, we see the shopping frenzy shooting up. Unknown to many, the holiday buying extravaganza can be stressful not only for shoppers and motorists, butto Mother Earth as well.
“With the huge amounts of fossil fuels spent, greenhouse gases emitted and trash created during the most festive time of the year, Christmas can be ‘traumatic,’ instead of fun, for the climate and Mother Earth,” lamented Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog.
According to the group’s “Climate Change Survival Guide,” the extraction, transportation, processing, manufacturing, marketing and advertising of products and the disposal after their useful lives consume lots of energy and all result in greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet.
This means that every time we buy something, energy was used to produce that item and get it to us, using up earth’s finite resources and causing emissions at every step of the path, the EcoWaste Coalition explained.
“We make the holiday pollution worse by our failure to embrace the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) as core practices in our personal, family and community lifestyles,” Alvarez observed.
“If we don’t watch our waste size over the joyous holidays, we’ll surely end up with another stinking garbage disposal crisis that can ruin the yuletide spirit,” he warned.
Metro Manila’s garbage, the group said, can go up by one-third, or even double in some areas, during the Christmas holidays due to the widespread consumption binge. The metropolis, according to the Metro Manila Development Authority, produces some 6,000 metric tons of trash daily.
Bins and bags overflowing with plastic garbage, packaging materials, kitchen discards and party leftovers are common sights in the neigborhood during the jolly season, while ugly and smelly dumps thrive on street corners and around market areas, commented the EcoWaste Coalition.
To guide consumers on how to enjoy Christmas without upsetting the family budget and, yes, the environment, too, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with an initial list of 30 practical earth and budget friendly tips for the season.
“We hope these tips, which were suggested by our affiliates, would help our people in lessening the environmental impacts of our merry Christmas celebration and making it in harmony with faith, life and nature,” Alvarez said.
I. PRE-SHOPPING TIPS:
1. Take stock of what you have. Check for things that can be repaired, reused, recycled or even re-gifted before buying new items.
2. Write down all your holiday necessities and take this list when you shop to avoid impulsive purchases.
3. Organize and plan your trips to the palengke, supermarkets or malls to reduce transportation costs as well as ease holiday traffic jams.
4. Set a holiday budget and avoid straying from it; remember to save enough for post-December expenses.
5. Look out for holiday sales to avail of deep discounts for stuff that you and your family truly need. Watch out and support charity fairs.
II. ACTUAL SHOPPING TIPS:
1. Bring your own bayong or reusable carry bags when you shop. Drop plastic bags, join the reusable bag bandwagon.
2. Consider buying in bulk to cut on product cost as well as packaging waste.
3. Pick products with the slightest packaging and avoid excessively packed items.
4. Select products made of recycled materials and with the most recycled contents.
5. Seek and buy goods that are durable and can be repaired, reused, recycled or passed on to other users.
6. Patronize locally-produced stuff, support the local economy and lessen greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Save receipts in case you need to return defective goods and wrong sizes and requirements.
III. ALTERNATIVE GIFT GIVING:
1. Think about re-giving gifts that you may have obtained at one time but have not used.
2. Look through your closet and give away clothes and accessories that your relatives and friends might have been admiring for some time like a pretty scarf, a nice jacket, a cute bag, etc.
3. Share books that have been read and stored in your shelf to friends who share the same interest.
4. Write heartfelt messages to family and friends on recycled Christmas cards and include a photo or two you have of them.
5. Cut up old Christmas cards and reuse them as gift tags.
6. Send e-cards in lieu of paper cards. Personalize them with your own graphic designs or choice photos.
7. Share your signature home-made goodies and dishes, especially from “secret” personal or family recipes.
8. Cook Noche Buena dinners for street children or to families who do not have anything to eat on Christmas Eve.
9. Tell your loved ones that instead of giving them gifts this year, you will make donations in their names to charities, orphanages and environmental projects.
10. Draw or paint creative stuff on flat and smooth stones to make paperweights, plain mugs to make pencil holder or bayong or katsa bag to make your shopping bags more "sosyal.”
11. Choose gifts that come with little or no packaging at all such as gift certificates, movie or concert tickets, bus or train passes, raffle coupons, etc.
12. Don’t wrap gifts. If wrapping is really needed, try old magazines or newspapers, discarded bandannas or fabric scraps. You can also use craft paper and jazz it up with colored pencils.
13. Give gifts that grow and restore the environment such as plant and flower seeds or bulbs, kitchen herbs or tree saplings.
14. If you feel that you absolutely have to buy something, then patronize local products such as handicrafts made by indigenous and rural communities, jail detainees and the urban poor, non-toxic personal care items, organic products from health and wellness groups, reusable bags from women’s and environmental groups, and other gift items from charities and cooperatives.
15. Buy simple notebooks, cover them with attractive used fabrics and write inspirational verses or excerpts from poems and songs at the bottom of every 15th page.
16. When giving toys, choose ones that are free of choking, laceration and toxic hazards, age-appropriate and properly labeled.
17. Shun replica guns and other war toys. Go for toys that promote creativity, non-aggressive behavior and social harmony.
18. Gift your barangay by leading or getting involved in a neighborhood project that will serve the poor or preserve the community environment.