31 December 2010

EcoWaste Coalition lists "Green Wishes" for the country in 2011

As the first decade of the new millennium draws to a close, a waste and pollution watchdog drew up a list of green wishes that they would like to see implemented in the Philippines for 2011 and beyond.

The EcoWaste Coalition put together their "Green Wishes for 2011" that were contributed by concerned Zero Waste, chemical safety and climate action and justice advocates in the country.

The results of the informal survey conducted via email and SMS encouraged citizens, political leaders and captains of industry alike to make positive changes in lifestyle practices, product designs and governmental policies in order to benefit the environment as well as society at large.

The “Green Wishes" are addressed to 1) “Juan and Juana de la Cruz,” 2) businesses and industries, 3) local authorities, 4) national government agencies, and to 5) President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) himself.

Respondents unanimously wished that Filipinos would switch to a greener, more Earth-friendly lifestyle, and included suggestions for waste and toxic reduction and low carbon living in the changing global climate.

Respondents specifically asked P-Noy to launch a presidential crusade to protect vulnerable subpopulations, particularly children, from reproductive, developmental and immune system toxins in common consumer products.

“It is the coalition’s hope that the wishes expressed by our members will be heard and acted upon by P-Noy and everyone concerned,” said Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition. “Let’s welcome a fresh decade by effecting positive changes for the good of the country and our people.”

Respondents included the Alaga Lahat, Ayala Foundation, Cavite Green Coalition, Cycling Residents of Industrial Valley, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, Sining Yapak, Zero Waste Philippines, the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat, and Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez Jr. of the Diocese of Kalookan.


1. That all families in both rural and urban barangays could have access to clean air, safe drinking water and healthful food.

2. That everyone would embrace the basic 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) of sustainable living and add a few more essential Rs -- including "respect" for human rights -- for a more caring existence.

3. That all litterbugs would finally drop their dirty habits and that our streets, vacant lots, beaches, rivers and the country as a whole would finally become a litter-free Pilipinas that we can be proud of.

4. That consumers would become more aware of the importance of using reusable bags instead of plastic bags, and that they would say no to disposable containers and packaging in general.

5. That simple, Zero Waste and Zero Toxic celebrations of Christmas, New Year and other popular festivities, including the upcoming Feast of the Black Nazarene, would begin in 2011 and continue for many more years to come.

6. That all citizens would duly recognize the role of the informal recycling sector in materials recovery and conservation and in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

7. That we all do our part in helping to stabilize the Earth’s temperature by conserving energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels such as gasoline, oil, and coal and switching to renewable energy alternatives whenever possible.

8. That citizens would cultivate more trees and plants and set up food gardens and take good care of them.

9. That more Filipinos would go vegetarian in 2011 and spread the many benefits of a plant-based diet sans genetically modified organisms and harmful chemicals.

10. That more people would join the environmental movement and take action to defend Mother Nature from apathy, greed and destruction.


1. That the manufacturing industry adopts concrete steps to reduce packaging waste on their own volition.

2. That manufacturers, especially of consumer products that are not easy and safe to recycle or dispose, would take full responsibility for their products from “cradle-to-cradle.”

3. That manufacturers using plastic sachets and wrappers embark on pilot bulk and "tingi" selling programs sans single-use packaging.

4. That all restaurants and fast food chains would implement a "No Styrofoam" and "No Plastic Utensils" policy.

5. That all toys and products geared towards children and other susceptible groups be made without hazardous, toxic or poisonous substances such as mercury, lead, cadmium, phthalates, brominated flame retardants and bisphenol A.

6. That commercial and industrial owners of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste oils and contaminated materials would ensure their safe destruction at the soon-to-operate non-combustion facility in Bataan.

7. That big business learns to prioritize conservation and ecological integrity and put a halt to unsustainable projects such as coal operation and mining.


1. That municipal and city councils would promote and maintain bike and pedestrian-friendly streets, especially in urban hubs.

2. That the public would be afforded more environmentally friendly mass transportation options in order to reduce the number of cars with single occupants on the road.

3. That local enforcers would succeed in removing smoke belching vehicles from the roads and in regulating roadside parking to ease traffic congestion.

4. That local authorities would embark on and support more livelihood programs that can magnify and sustain environmental advocacies.

5. That the practice of nailing or hanging commercial, political and public service advertisements on trees would no longer be tolerated and would finally be stopped.

6. That concerned government units would put in place a functional system for collecting and managing hazardous waste from households and other sources.

7. That illegal dumpsites and other polluting waste disposal facilities would become things of the past.

8. That more local governments, commercial establishments and schools would adopt and implement Zero Waste policies and programs.


1. That the National Solid Waste Management Commission would adopt a long-awaited policy on single-use plastic bags which would take its cue from those enacted by local government units (LGUs) that have started phasing out and banning these highly-polluting products.

2. That the Department of Environment and Natural Resources would recall its policy allowing the incineration of certain types of municipal and hazardous waste in cement kilns and that the agency would faithfully enforce the ban on incinerators, including "waste-to-energy" schemes.

3. That the Department of Tourism’s planned makeovers of Manila's parks, especially those catering to young children, would only use certified lead-free paints.

4. That the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority would ensure the removal of all endosulfan stocks in the country -- including the 10 metric tons of this highly hazardous pesticide that were retrieved from the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars -- before an impending global ban takes effect under the Stockholm Convention.

5. That the Department of Agriculture would make 2011 a banner year for promoting natural and organic farming methods as solutions to food safety and security and climate change issues.

6. That the Department of Energy project on making producers of mercury-containing CFL lamps responsible for their products after their life cycles be completed and implemented.

7. That the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources take firm action against manufacturers and retailers of unregistered and unlabelled silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances.

8. That the Food and Drug Administration succeed in eliminating mercury-tainted personal care products in the marketplace and heed the call for a "Safe Cosmetics Summit" involving all stakeholders.


1. That P-Noy would initiate a participatory review of the enforcement of the country’s major environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Renewable Energy Act and many others which were enacted to promote environmental health, integrity and sustainability.

2. That P-Noy would finally acknowledge and act on the "Citizens' Agenda for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety" document that the EcoWaste Coalition delivered to Times St. prior to his inauguration.

3. That P-Noy, being a loving uncle to his nephews and nieces, would take on and lead a presidential crusade that will protect Filipino children from harmful substances such as reproductive, developmental and immune system toxicants which abound in childcare items, toys, school supplies and related products.

4. That P-Noy would review his responses to the EcoWaste Coalition-Greenpeace pre-election presidential survey in which he divulged his plan to address the climate change vulnerabilities of specific sectors and areas by drawing up "detailed local and communty-based action frameworks for adaptation." At the time, he promised to focus not only on "rescue, recovery and rehabilitation," but on "research, risk management and restoration of damaged communities."

5. That P-Noy would join the rest of the world in pushing G8 countries to recognize their historical obligations towards ameliorating climate change, and that the G8 would finally take concrete action and adopt low carbon economies.


30 December 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Recommends "Ligtas Linis Tips" for Non-Toxic Spring Cleaning

Even as most Filipino families are busy cleaning their households in anticipation of the coming year, a toxic watchdog urged the public to use safer alternatives to avoid health risks due to cleaning chemicals.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group campaigning for chemical safety, issued its “Ligtas Linis Tips” as Filipino families spruce up their homes as the final New Year countdown gets underway.

“Ushering in the New Year via a toxics-free household is an excellent place to start. We can get rid of dust and dirt, foul smell and pests using alternative products and practices that will not cause toxic harm,” said retired chemist Sonia Mendoza of the EcoWaste Coalition and Mother Earth Foundation.

“Chemical-based cleaning products may make our homes look clean on the surface, but look closer and you will find that these items are hiding insidious effects,” she warned.

“Many of these products contain very hard to pronounce toxic chemicals, which are often not even indicated in the labels or hidden in generic terms such as fragrance,” she added.

Known or suspected carcinogens, endocrine disrupters or reproductive toxins commonly found in cleaning agents include ethylene glycol butyl ether, ethoxylated nonylphenol, methylene chloride, naphthalene, paradichlorobenzene, silica, toluene, trisodium nitrilotriacetate and xylene, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Is your family’s health really worth the risk of using these noxious products?” asked Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

Instead of using cleaners containing harmful chemicals, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends a set of “Ligtas Cleaning Tips” consisting of helpful pointers from our “lolas” and cleaning substitutes commonly found in the garden or the kitchen such as sabila (aloe vera), is-is, tanglad (lemograss) and bay leaves, sukang puti (white vinegar), kalamansi juice, and baking soda.

“Our grandparents had the right idea when they came up with these traditional, but eco-friendly, homemade cleaning agents and recipes. It’s time for us to rediscover these fabulous cleaning secrets ,” said Lucero.

“By adopting these cleaning tips, we can cut indoor air pollution as well as reduce human exposure to toxins that can trigger or aggravate diseases, while saving hard-earned money, too.” Lucero said.


I. General Cleaning

1. Segregate your discards to make reuse, recycling and composting at home easy.
2. Do not throw hazardous discards into the sink, canal or the rubbish bin.
3. Create your own multi-purpose cleaner by dissolving 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water. Spray or apply with sponge or rag and wipe clean.

II. Cleaning the Air

1. Make your home a non-smoking zone.
2. Find the sources of unpleasant smells and get rid of them.
3. Keep the air quality pure and clean with the help of house plants.
4. Ensure that all sections of the house are clean and well-ventilated.
5. Refrain from using synthetic fragrances, air fresheners or deodorizers.
6. Place “sabila” (aloe vera) in the rooms to absorb toxins and freshen the air.
7. In a pot over low heat, simmer slices of calamansi or lemon or any citrus in season such as dalandan to rid the air of a stale smell.
8. Leave 2 tablespoons baking soda on a dish to keep obnoxious odors away.
9. Create potpourri from available herbs, spices and indigenous flowers to serve as air freshener.

III. Floor Cleaning:

1. Sweep the floor with “walis tambo” (broom). Save electricity; use the vacuum cleaner sparingly.
2. Do not hose down the garage, sidewalk or street. Conserve water; use the “walis tingting” (broomstick).
3. For tile and linoleum floors, combine ½ to 1 cup vinegar and 1 gallon hot water. Apply on the floor and mop clean.
4. Polish wooden floors with banana leaves. They will turn up shiny, but minus the turpentine smell.
5. To remove stubborn stains from the floor, mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water, apply, let stand, scrub and wipe clean.

IV. Kitchen Cleaning:

1. Soak fruits and vegetables thoroughly in a basin to remove chemical residues and use the wastewater to water plants.
2. Use “hugas bigas” (rice water) to clean soiled plates and glasses before washing them with soap and water. It will make the tableware, especially the glasses, shinier.
3. To remove the “tutong” (burnt or hardened food) from cookware, sprinkle the bottom of the pot or pan with baking soda, add hot water, soak for a few hours as necessary, wash and rinse well.
4. Scrub burned pots and pans with “is-is” leaves to remove the “uling” (char),
5. To remove grease and grime from pots and pans, make a paste of 3 tablespoons baking soda, water and a dash of salt. Dip a sponge into the paste, rub onto greasy parts, leave paste dry and then rinse with hot water.
6. To clear a clogged drain, pour baking soda and then add boiling water. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse with warm water. For normal cleaning of basin and drain, use full-strength vinegar.
7. Place an open box of baking soda (or a few pieces of charcoal) in the refrigerator to eliminate odors.
8. To neutralize unpleasant cooking odors resulting from frying fish or cooking “bagoong” (shrimp or fish paste), boil a cup or two of vinegar in a small pot. The vinegar will absorb the odors.

V. Toilet and Bathroom Cleaning:

1. To clean tiles, scrub the surface with “kamias” (ginger lily) or pineapple peels as substitutes for chlorine-based cleaners.
2. To clean tiles, simply sprinkle baking soda on the surface, rub with a wet sponge and rinse well with warm water. Or mix ½ teaspoon washing soda, ¼ to ½ teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle or pail, apply and wipe clean.
3. For toilet bowls, sprinkle baking soda in and around the bowl (or pour ¼ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar into the bowl). Let sit for a few minutes, scrub or brush clean, then flush.

VI. Laundry Cleaning:

1. Choose an eco-friendly laundry detergent.
2. Replace half of each measure of laundry detergent with baking soda to keep clothing fresh.
3. To remove stains, pre-treat stains with baking soda paste, or pre-soak clothes in laundry soap with calamansi.
4. White vinegar from your kitchen is a good substitute for fabric conditioner and a boon to allergy-prone skin. Add a cup to your last rinse, and don't worry about the sour smell -- it evaporates rapidly as your clothes dry, leaving them soft and fresh.

VII. Metal Cleaning:

1. To clean off tarnish, coat and rub silver with toothpaste, rinse with warm water and dry with soft cloth.
2. Put foil in the bottom of a pan. Add water enough to cover the silver. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, add the silver pieces and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan, rinse well and dry.
3. To polish chrome and other metals, sprinkle flour on the surface and rub clean

VIII. Glass Cleaning:

1.To polish glass windows, rub them clean with damp newspaper.
2. For stubborn dirt, mix one part vinegar and one part water, apply or spray on the glass and wipe until dry and shiny.

IX. Garden Cleaning:

1. Don’t burn fallen leaves, dried twigs and other yard discards. Compost them!
2. Avoid insecticides, herbicides and pesticides to deal with garden pests and weeds.
3. Log on to http://ecologycenter.org/factsheets/#pest for fact sheets on non-toxic pest and weed control.

X. Dealing with Household Pests:

1. To drive cockroaches away, put some raw bay or pandan leaves in cupboards.
2. To make a cockroach trap, half fill a bottle with a sweet drink and add a tablespoon of oil. The sweet drink will attract cockroaches into the bottle, and the oil will prevent them from climbing out. Bury the dead cockroaches afterwards.
3. To repel ants, crumble dry bay leaves in doorways and window sills; or mash chili in water, or mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part water and apply to counter tops; or squeeze calamansi juice into the hole or crack where ants come from.
4. For houseflies, scratch the skin of an orange or other citrus fruit and leave out.
5. To drive mosquitoes away, plant malvarosa, marigold, basil or “tanglad” (lemon grass) or citronella around the house, or hang some “tanglad” on windows and doors.
6. Refrain from using mosquito coil or chemical spray and opt for mosquito net (kulambo) instead.
7. For rats, put fresh or dried mint leaves or moisten small balls of cotton wool with clove oil in closets and cupboards to repel rats.
8. For more information, please refer to “Debug Your Home the Natural Way: A Quick Guide to Safer Pest Control at Home” at www.panap.net.

29 December 2010

EcoWaste Coalition and PAWS appeal to the public to shun firecrackers, stop "mega-torture"of animals

An environmental watchdog and an animal welfare group have teamed up to remind citizens to be kind to our animal friends and protect them from the harmful noise and fumes of firecrackers and other pyrotechnics during the New Year celebrations.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) jointly called on Filipinos to shun firecrackers and act responsibly towards animals in an event held outside the Manila Zoo.

To dramatize the traumatic effects of firecrackers to animals, youth members of Maskara-Green Stage Filipinas acted out a skit that ended with a scene showing performers donning cat and dog headgears hiding under the bed because of the frightening booms and bangs during the warlike New Year revelries.

“To us humans the noise of firecrackers can be an inconvenience, but to animals – such as dogs and cats – with highly sensitive hearing, that same noise can be the equivalent of a cannon going off near them,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition. “Magnify that by the amount of firecrackers all going off at once on New Year’s Eve, and imagine the mega-torture that the day brings to them.”

“This New Year’s Eve, please do not use firecrackers or firearms,” said Elsie Araneta, director of PAWS. “The explosive and unpredictable bangs, the choking fumes, and the bright displays of light hurt the highly sensitive ears, powerful noses, and keen eyesight of dogs and truly frighten them.”

“90% of the calls that PAWS gets during the days approaching New Year and right after the festivities are about animals lost because they were spooked by firecrackers or those who were injured due to firecrackers,” she pointed out.

Animals evolved with highly sensitive hearing in order to survive in the wild. While they do not need this ability as much in the urban jungle, it is still part of their systems. As their caretakers, it is imperative that we be more sensitive to their needs as well as more conscious of our responsibility to protect their rights while they are under our care, the groups said.

The groups also bemoaned the fact that, while firecrackers have already been proven to be detrimental to human and environmental health due to the danger of injuries and contamination from the toxic emissions, very little is written about their impacts on the health of the metro’s animal population.

“Firecracker-related injuries and deaths among humans have been well monitored and documented by the government in the past decades,” said Lucero. “We commend them for their efforts, but we would also like to see them exercising the same vigilance on behalf of animals.”

PAWS and members of the EcoWaste Coalition who have pet cats and dogs have come up with some tips for helping animals survive the firecracker noise and injuries during the New Year’s Eve celebrations:

1. Persuade members of your household to make your home a “no firecracker” zone.

2. Politely tell your neighbors not to light or throw firecrackers near your home.

3. Exercise your pets during the days leading up to the New Year’s Eve and in the next morning when the festivities are over and the smoke has cleared.

4. Give your pets a physical outlet for their pent up energy due to arousal and stress.

5. Manage the environment so it is as relaxing as possible and as unstressful as you can make it.

6. Provide your pet with a safe place to take temporary refuge. If possible, allow your pet to stay in a quiet room such as a bedroom.

7. Close the windows, put the curtains down and play a relaxing music to neutralize the noise from the outside to help your pets feel secure.

8. Ensure your pet’s access to drinking water. Make her/him pee or poo.

9. Do not yell or laugh at your pet when she/he is cowering or shaking in fear. This is a natural response to a threat that they do not understand and cannot avoid.

The above tips were from PAWS and from EcoWaste Coalition's partners in Arugaan, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Philippine Greens and Sining Yapak.

Instead of firecrackers and fireworks, both the EcoWaste Coaliton and PAWS suggest alternative ways of ushering the New Year sans explosive noise and dirty emissions that are harmful to humans and to animals, too.


Post-Christmas Chore: Recycle "Holitrash" for the Planet

Discards from the jolly gift-giving during the holidays need not exacerbate the country's garbage woes, the EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for a clean and healthy environment, said.

“As caring citizens, we have the choice of cutting down the holitrash (holiday trash) by recycling typical Christmas remnants and not just simply throwing them to the waste bins and onto the dumpsites, which are already bursting at the seams due to increased garbage disposal during the festive season,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“By thinking outside the box, we can repurpose Christmas cards, bags, wrappers and ribbons into functional as well as decorative items. In this manner, we conserve valuable resources from being wasted,” added recycling specialist Ofel Panganiban, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee.

As part of its ongoing effort to promote environmental awareness, conservation and protection, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with a list of 25 suggestions on how to repurpose holiday discards that are unwisely thrown away.

These suggestions were supplied by Ofelia Panganiban of Zero Waste Philippines, Bang Palacio of Sining Yapak, Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation, Tessa Oliva of Miriam PEACE, Cathy Untalan of Miss Earth Foundation, Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Yhet Garcia of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Secretariat.

“Christmas cards with their very beautiful and colorful designs are excellent materials for paper arts and crafts that children can create in school or at home with their parents and siblings,” said Ofel Panganiban of Zero Waste Philippines.

1. Store them in a box for use as decorations next Christmas season. With a little creativity, you can turn these used cards into 1) Christmas tree wall decals, 2) Christmas tree card ornaments, 3) lanterns, 4) party garlands and more.

2. Keep them to make your own Christmas cards next year. Glue parts of the old cards onto a clean cartolina or oslo paper.

3. Reuse them into place mats for your 2011 noche buena salo-salo. Cut the cards to make a creative collage that will fit used “karton” such as pizza boxes, glue them down and let dry.

4. Create little Christmas gift boxes from used holiday cards for the next gift-giving season.

5. Turn the used cards into gifts tags or package decorations for future use by cutting them into desired shapes such as square, rectangle, oblong or circle. You can also turn them into bottled gift tags.

6. Save old Christmas cards and other greeting cards for children’s art and craft assignments.

7. Make “building blocks,” i.e., small boxes, out of Christmas cards for young kids to enjoy and learn from.

8. Cut used Christmas cards into different letters, shapes and sizes and paste on cardboards to make educational flash cards for children.

9. Cut different shapes or figures (animals such as birds or fishes, flowers, fruits, leaves etc.) in matching pairs, glue each pair together, punch a hole, then put abaca, raffia or yarn string in them and arrange into a child-friendly mobile or lacing cards.

10. Cut off the backs of used Christmas cards and reuse them into recipe cards by writing personal or family favourite recipes on them.

“Wrapped Christmas presents should be carefully unpacked, not ripped, to save the wrapping for future use. Recycling Christmas wrapper is good for the planet and avoiding its use is even better,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson, Mother Earth Foundation.

1. Fold used wrappers nicely and reuse them for future presents.

2. Turn glossy wrappers into paper beads to make fashionable paper-based accessories like earrings, necklaces or bracelets, or as evening bags and other functional items.

3. For torn or wrinkled wrapper, reuse them to clean glass and cabinet windows and table tops.

4. Use spare wrappers as liners for clothes drawers or as stuffings for leather shoes to keep them in shape when not in use.

5. Save wrappers for use in various paper crafts such as Origami animals, flowers and other popular objects.

“We’ve been using old paper bags for various uses, including as gift bags. After opening the gifts, we set them aside for carrying things or to reuse for the following Christmas,” said Cathy Untalan, Executive Director, Miss Earth Foundation.

1. Save and reuse gift bags for next Christmas and other gift-giving occasions.

2. Salvage crumpled gift bags and reuse them as containers for cooking staples such as onion and garlic.

3. Reuse sturdy gift bags to carry school, office and personal stuff.

4. Crochet plastic bags into fashionable bags or made into functional ropes.

5. Put aside boxes used as containers for gift toys, shirts, pastries, fruit cakes and other Christmas goodies for future use.

“Ribbons come in many pretty colors and designs that are quite popular among young girls. They are charming accessories for my daughter Aya's hair,” said Bang Palacio of Sining Yapak.

1. Save ribbons and reuse them over and over again not only during the yuletide gift-giving, but for other occasions as well.

2. Keep used ribbons for children’s school art and craft activities.

3. Repurpose ribbons as hair, bag, shoe and dress accessories. Ribbons can be used as hair bow or as headband adornment. You can also use them to tie or ponytail a little girl's hair. Also, ribbons are great for jazzing up purses and bags, slippers and shoes, clothes and other fashion items.

4. Reuse ribbons as doll and toy accessories.

5. Recycle ribbons as home ornaments for future parties and special occasions such as to decorate candles, plants and even the windows and stair rails.


26 December 2010

Malate Children Say "Iwas Paputoxic," Stage Pre-New Year "Ligtas Salubong" sans Firecrackers

As the rest of the country continued its Christmas celebration, a toxic watchdog and church-based groups today reminded the public, especially the children, to stay away from injurious and highly polluting firecrackers this season.

The event, dubbed “Ligtas Salubong 2011”, saw the EcoWaste Coalition partnering with the Care for the Earth Ministry and the Ministry of Children of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate, Manila to promote safe and climate-friendly alternatives to firecrackers.

After a lively show of substitute noisemakers created from used materials in front of the iconic place of worship, the youth participants paraded around the Malate Catholic Church and Remedios Circle areas brandishing a banner that said “Say No to Firecrackers: Opt for a Safe and Climate-Friendly Celebration of the New Year.” They also gave out leaflets listing alternatives to firecrackers.

“New Year’s Eve is supposed to be a festive and joyous occasion,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats). “Don’t spoil it by using hazardous firecrackers and other pyrotechnics which have already been proven to cause injuries and emit toxins into the environment.”

“Let’s shun these toxic devices and add ‘concern for other people, the animals and the environment’ to the list of resolutions for us to keep from this year onward,” added Lucero.

Cristy Pangilinan, representative of the Care for the Earth Ministry, agrees. “We join the EcoWaste Coalition in pushing for a safe welcome of the New Year for the sake of our young children who are most likely to be injured by mishandled or defective firecrackers. It’s our duty as parents to protect our children from these threats, not expose them to further danger.”

Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, supported the timely initiative of the laity to persuade the public to quit blasting firecrackers to welcome the New Year.

“There’s a smarter way of heralding 2011 than wasting hard-earned money in firecrackers that cause bodily harm and massive pollution. For a change, please dump firecrackers this time around and opt for ‘torotot’ and other gentler instruments of merrymaking. Let’s not jeopardize the health and safety of our children, families and communities with firecrackers. Together we can turn the bloody and dirty revelry into a real celebration of life and hope,” stated Bishop Iñiguez.

Citing information provided by the Department of Health, the coalition said these devices generate many pollutants, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur compounds, particulate matter, metal oxides and organic compounds, when burned. These pose health risks to infants and young children and those with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

“Why would we want to continue using these highly toxic devices when there are so many alternatives we can use?” asked the groups.

The EcoWaste Coalition has identified 13 alternative noisemakers that citizens could use instead of firecrackers, fireworks and similar devices that pollute the environment or cause injuries and fires. These include:

1. Blow colorful toy trumpets (torotot).
2. Shake maracas created out of used tin cans.
3. Rattle the tambourine made from flattened bottle crowns (tansan).
4. Shake box or plastic containers filled with coins, pebbles or seeds.
5. Sound pot lids (takip ng kaldero) cymbals.
6. Clank the washbasin (batya or palanggana) with a ladle or stick.
7. Knock empty coconut shells.
8. Play the guitar or any available musical instruments.
9. Play Karaoke songs or your favorite fast and bouncy music.
10. Honk the bicyle or car horns (busina).
11. Create whistling sound or get a whistle and blow it.
12. Clap your hands and stump your feet.
13. Sing, dance and shout “Happy New Year.”

“It is our hope that this New Year’s Eve be the start of many more non-toxic and safe celebrations to come,” the groups said.


22 December 2010

"Give Mother Earth a gift this Christmas: watch what you use and throw"

Concerned about the excessive generation of holiday trash, a waste and pollution watchdog and a religious leader today encouraged consumers to give Mother Earth a gift by watching what they use and throw out.

The EcoWaste Coalition made its appeal to consumers amidst the last-minute shopping frenzy for Christmas gifts, saying that holiday trash, or “holitrash”, has become as much of a tradition over the years as Simbang Gabi and Noche Buena.

“While some traditions are definitely worth keeping, the generation of 'holitrash' certainly shouldn’t be one of them,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition. “Instead of trashing Mother Earth even more this Christmas, let’s give her the appreciation and respect that she deserves. It’s time for us to start a new tradition, namely that of being more protective and mindful of our environment.”

The group’s plea for waste reduction during the festive season has drawn the support of a leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

“As we recall with joy the birth of our Redeemer, I encourage everyone to observe it in simplicity and be watchful of crass consumerism and the ensuing garbage that it generates. Christmas should not be an excuse for reckless wasting,” said Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., head of CBCP’s Public Affairs Committee.

Metro Manila residents generate approximately half kilo of trash daily per person, which goes up to one kilo or more during the festive holidays, the EcoWaste Coalition observed.

“It’s bad enough that we have to contend with the mountains of trash that we generate throughout the year,” said Alvarez. “Why do we have to add to the mounting garbage problem by buying into the consumerist philosophy that is pushed on us by commercial interests during the Christmas season?”

The coalition pointed out that waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, recycling and composting, which could help eliminate the piles of garbage in and around the metro, has yet to be fully implemented 10 years after the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act was signed into law.

“The lack of political will in enforcing the ecological management of discards means that the cycle of poisoning the environment will continue in the future,” said Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission. “It’s high time for the entire government machinery, the industry and the citizenry to put the law into effect.”

In order to help curb the problem of ‘holitrash,’ the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to commit to a more eco-friendly lifestyle starting this Christmas.

“Let’s think twice before buying things that we don’t really need,” said Alvarez. “Apart from helping the planet, we can also save our pockets from further damage during these trying economic times.”

“There are endless possibilities for recycling and living an eco-friendly lifestyle if we would only exercise a little creativity,” added Sison.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to replace toxic products in their shopping lists with eco-friendly alternatives. It further suggested rejecting plastic bags and goods with excessive packaging, and reusing unwanted items and leftovers. Recycling glass, metal, paper, and plastic and composting kitchen, garden and other biodegradable discards was also encouraged.

Consumers were also advised to think outside the box when wrapping Christmas gifts. Used newspapers or glossy magazine pages, for example, could be used in lieu of store-bought wrapping paper, while pretty jam jars or biscuit cans could be decorated and used to package homemade food items as giveaways.

21 December 2010

EcoWaste Coalition: “Say 'thank you' to your neighborhood recyclers this Christmas"

In the last few days of merrymaking and partying before Christmas Day finally arrives, the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, called on all Filipino families to say "thank you" to those who reclaim and recycle the discards that our throwaway culture generates.

“In this season of giving, let us not forget to thank the waste pickers and other recyclers for doing such a difficult, but extremely beneficial, job,” said Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition. “They deserve our utmost respect for their efforts to recover the resources that we so carelessly throw away and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from waste disposal."

To show our appreciation, the EcoWaste Coaltion suggests segregating household and workplace discards and giving the clean recyclables directly to community recyclers instead of dumping them all into one garbage can.

It also suggested clearing drawers and cabinets of clutter such as old but still useable clothes, books, school supplies and other necessities which could be given to recyclers as gifts.

“We could also show our appreciation for their services that are too often ignored by sharing home-cooked dishes or desserts with them, or by offering to shoulder the cost of fixing any recycling carts (kariton) that need to be repaired,” said Alvarez.

Concerned citizens could also offer gifts to protect waste pickers from the elements or from occupational hazards. The EcoWaste Coalition suggests giving umbrellas, rain coats, used rubber or utility shoes and dust masks for this purpose.

For its part, the EcoWaste Coalition will be providing noche buena packs to the families of 11 waste pickers from Pier 18 in Tondo, Manila. The 11 waste pickers are collaborating with the coalition on a study regarding the informal recyclers’ exposure to mercury in the course of their work.

“Just a little bit of effort from us citizens can give a lot of comfort to this marginalized sector of society,” said Alvarez. “Even the smallest of gifts can go a long way towards putting a smile on the waste pickers’ faces this Christmas.”

Informal recycling is a source of much-needed livelihood for thousands of poor families, but it also puts the health and safety of these informal workers at risk, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The coalition is particularly concerned with the unhygienic and dangerous working conditions of the informal recyclers. Many of them forage in dumps and bins, which could potentially contain toxic chemicals or hazardous materials, for recyclable materials that they could sell for a pittance.

“Since the required separation of discards at the point of generation is still poorly implemented in the country, most waste pickers have to contend with handling all types of mixed wastes, often without any precautions against exposure and contamination from dangerous materials,” said Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).

“If we, as a society, could practice segregation at home, we would not have to subject the waste pickers to the risks and hazards of sorting through our mixed wastes in order to make a living,” said Sison.

Citing the 2009 National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in Solid Waste Management prepared by the NSWMC, the coalition revealed that the informal waste sector recovers as much as 20% of the total mixed wastes generated by households and industries at little to no cost to local governments and taxpayers.

The hidden price of this informal recycling for waste pickers, however, is the toll that their work takes on their health and well being. Waste pickers have no social or economic security, have limited access to basic services, and work in extremely unhealthy conditions.



19 December 2010

Environmentalists Back Precautionary Ban on Firecrackers in Makati City

In support of the firecracker ban enacted by the Makati City government in the area near a damaged petroleum pipeline, the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, took to the streets of Barangay Bangkal to call on citizens to avoid toxic and dangerous firecrackers this holiday season.

Combined representatives of the EcoWaste Coalition, Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice, and the Barangay Council joined the parade which was led by a man dressed as Santa Claus. Santa Claus held a friendly reminder that said “Sabi ni Santa: Kaligtasan Muna, Iwas-Paputoxic.” Participants also carried 10 oversized mock triangulos bearing the word “NO!” while blowing whistles to get the attention of passersby and bystanders.

“Firecrackers are the last thing anyone needs to celebrate the season, especially since these have already been proven to be toxic to humans, animals and the environment,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“They’re even more of a threat in Makati City, especially since the First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) has yet to complete the remediation work and the clean up of West Tower and surrounding villages affected by the massive spill underneath the ground. We therefore laud and support the precautionary ban on firecrackers adopted by the City Council and signed by Mayor Jun-Jun Binay,” she added.

The Makati City Council approved last December 7 City Ordinance 2010-A-020 banning the sale, manufacture, storage, possession or use of all types of firecrackers, pyrotechnic devices, and other explosive materials in the areas of Bangkal, Pio Del Pilar, and Magallanes. The ordinance was issued amidst fears of fire starting in these barangays which are traversed by the FPIC pipeline.

“It’s hard enough that we have to worry about toxic fumes from firecrackers every year,” said Barangay Bangkal Chair Fermin Eusebio. “It’s outrageous to think that we have to add the very real possibility of starting destructive fires in the city to our list of woes.”

“One misplaced firecracker thrown by a careless reveler could place hundreds of lives in danger,” said Eusebio.

“It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially during the holidays,” said Eusebio. “We call on all concerned citizens to abide by the city ordinance and to make sure their neighbors do so as well.”

The EcoWaste Coalition agrees. “Let’s not forget the welfare of our fellows this Christmas,” said Lucero. “A safe and merry holiday celebration is the most precious gift that we can give to everyone this year. Let’s not lose sight of that in our excitement over the season.”

Apart from the threat of explosion and fire due to the damaged pipeline, the EcoWaste Coalition is also concerned about the toxic burden that firecrackers and other pyrotechnics release into the atmosphere.

Citing information provided by the Department of Health, the coalition said these devices generate many pollutants, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur compounds, particulate matter, metal oxides and organic compounds, when burned. These pose health risks to infants and young children and those with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

“Why do we need to use these dangerous and toxic items when there are more creative alternatives available?” asked Lucero. “Is it really worth putting our families’ lives in danger for a few short-lived bursts of light in the sky?”

Instead of firecrackers, fireworks and similar devices, the EcoWaste Coalition is promoting the use of substitute noisemakers that will not cause injuries, fire and pollution.

For example, shakers could be made by filling discarded soap and toothpaste boxes with pebbles. Beverage cans and plastic bottles could also be used for this purpose.

Maracas can be made from tin cans, while flattened metal bottle caps could be strung together to create a makeshift tambourine. Pots and pans could also be used as cymbals and drums. Toy horns (torotot) could also be used to make some noise.

17 December 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Asks for Government Assurance that Only Safe Toys are Sold in the Marketplace

As the grand day of gift-giving nears, a group campaigning against toxins in toys asked the Aquino government to ensure that only safe items will be sold in bargain centers as well as in upmarket stores.

The EcoWaste Coalition voiced its appeal for government assurance on toy quality and safety, especially as shops and vendors in Divisoria and shopping malls enjoy a brisk sale ahead of Christmas next week.

“The government is responsible for recalling toys that have not passed quality and safety standards, including product labelling requirements,” said Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition. “Toys that pose choking, laceration, poking, strangulation and chemical poisoning threats to young children should be withdrawn from store shelves without delay.”

“We want to see the authorities ordering product recalls as a precaution against children’s potential exposure to physical, mechanical and chemical hazards in toys,” he added.
Citing data from the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Products (RAPEX), the coalition reported that in 2009, 476 kinds of toys were recalled by the 27-country bloc. An additional 478 kinds were recalled in 2010.

The EcoWaste Coalition also revealed that in the US, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 50 kinds of toys in 2009 and 44 kinds in 2010.

“Government authorities in Europe and the US issue toy recall orders from time to time to rid the market of dangerous toys,” Alvarez pointed out. “Our own government should do the same in order to save our children from harm. If they don’t, who will?”

"The government should also ensure that recalled toys from abroad will not get dumped into the country's ports and markets," he added.

The coalition also alerted the public to a recent move by the Belgian and French governments to impose a ban on giant puzzle mats or carpets made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam because of concern with formamide.

Formamide is a reproductive toxicant, or a chemical that is classified as toxic to the reproductive system, which can pose harm to fetuses and infants. Exposure can also cause eye, nose, throat and skin irritation

“The latest toxic scare in Belgium and France involving formamide-laced foam puzzle mats or carpets, which are also quite popular in the Philippines, should be enough incentive to induce the authorities into withdrawing the product from the local market,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

Last Friday, the Belgian Minister for Consumer Protection, Paul Magnette, ordered the withdrawal of foam puzzle tapestries which were found to contain high levels of formamide.

Following the Belgian action, Frederic Lefebvre, the French Secretary of Consumer Affairs, ordered the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud to “proceed without delay to control the toxicity of carpet puzzles for children and (their) sale on the French market.”

In 2009, consumer groups in Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain reported the presence of formamides in foam mat puzzles.



16 December 2010

Toxic watchdog disturbed by continued sale of “suicide cleaner” despite DOH, DENR ban

Quezon City – Disturbed by the continuing trend of suicides using banned silver jewelry cleaners, the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxic watchdog, conducted test buys of the product in seven malls in the metro on December 12 and 14. The coalition found that the “suicide cleaner," which Rea Patricio, 14, of Navotas City fatally ingested last week, could still be easily found in stores despite the ban. Cyanide, a lethal ingredient found in some silver cleaners, can kill instantly even in small amounts.

The coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol managed to buy with receipts 30 unlabelled and/or unregistered silver cleaning solutions in some jewelry and watch stores in the following malls: Grand Central Mall (in 5 stores) and Victory Central Mall (4) in Caloocan City; Guadalupe Shopping Center (2) in Makati City; Manila City Plaza (2) in Quiapo, Manila; Starmall Alabang (11) in Muntinlupa City, and Farmer’s Plaza (4) and SM North (2) in Quezon City.

“We find it alarming that, despite a joint ban from the DOH and the DENR, unlabelled and unregistered silver jewelry cleaners are so easily available to anyone with the cash to buy them,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator for the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats). “Rea Patricio’s suicide is only the latest in a chain of deaths involving silver cleaners. How many more people need to die before this poison is finally banished from the market?”

The University of the Philippines-National Poison Management and Poison Control Center at the Philippine General Hospital and the East Avenue Medical Center Poison Control Unit consider silver jewelry cleaning agents as one of the top three toxicants among patients admitted for the past two years. They were also the third most commonly swallowed poison among children.

A string of suicides and the accidental death last July of a one-year-old victim from silver cleaner poisoning prompted the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), with input from the EcoWaste Coalition, to issue a joint advisory against the sale of toxic silver cleaners.

According to the joint advisory, “laboratory analysis of samples of silver cleaners show elevated levels of cyanide clearly posing imminent danger or even death to humans, particularly when accidentally or deliberately ingested.”

The joint advisory emphasized that penalties would be imposed on importers, retailers and commercial establishments selling and dispensing unregistered and unlabeled silver cleaners. However, the results of the coalition’s market monitoring have shown that these items are still rampant in the market.

“Government regulators should exercise utmost vigilance in enforcing strict compliance of the ban on death-causing jewelry cleaners,” said Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition. “Offenders must be punished to the full extent of the law. Ito ay kailangang gawin para hindi pamarisan."

The EcoWaste Coalition called for the aggressive enforcement of the joint ban and for government regulators to cut off the country’s supply chain to the poisonous product.

“Cutting the supply off at the source is the only way to ensure that this ‘suicide cleaner’ is removed from the market,” said Dizon. “Manufacturers and retailers have no business selling a highly poisonous substance with such impunity.”


Link to the article re Rea Patricio's suicidal death due to the ingestion of silver jewelry cleaner:

15 December 2010

Environmental watchdog says “Magplato, Di Styro” this holiday season

Quezon City - Barely two weeks to go before Christmas Day, and already the annual holiday frenzy has grown to epic proportions. Unfortunately, this is also the time when the country’s use of disposable goods such as Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers and plastic spoons and forks rises alarmingly.

In a timely eco-plea called “Magplato, Di Styro”, the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, urged all consumers to keep their use of single-use party wares to a minimum in a bid to reduce the country’s “holitrash” (holiday trash).

“’Holitrash’ is one of the biggest contributors to the mountains of garbage that the country has to contend with,” said Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition. “We may be having the time of our lives running from one party to the next, but the environment will certainly pay the price for our merriment.”

There really is no need to use disposable items in Christmas parties when clearly there are many alternatives out there,“ continued Alvarez.

A waste audit of the heavily-polluted Manila Bay conducted last 28 November by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace and the EcoWaste Coalition showed that 75.55% of the 728 liters of waste collected from the area was composed of plastic discards. 20.74% of these plastic discards were composed of Styrofoam food and beverage containers.

“The amount of Styrofoam discards floating in the bay has more than tripled since the last waste survey we did in 2006. Back then, polystyrene plastic made up 5% of the trash collected,” observed Gigie Cruz of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Plastics.

"While there are ongoing government as well as private sector initiatives to cut plastic bag consumption, not much is being done to control the wild use of polystyrene containers and other disposable cutlery,” said Cruz.

The coalition suggested using regular chinaware, metal cutlery, and glass that can be washed and used over and over again. Using banana leaves laid on reusable wicker or bamboo woven plates can also help reduce the amount of plastic discards that we generate this season.

For office parties, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested asking employees to bring their own sets of plates and utensils. Companies could also set aside a small budget for stocking their office pantries with reusable cutlery instead of issuing disposables for everyday use.

The money saved from buying disposables, according to the coalition, could instead go towards rewarding green employees. It could also be used to provide food for the less fortunate, such as the itinerant and dumpsite-based waste pickers, as part of a corporate social responsibility program.

The coalition also exhorted consumers to bring their own containers when buying cooked food in bulk, or request that items be packaged using biodegradable materials.

“Let’s not lose sight of the bigger environmental picture, even in the midst of our holiday activities,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out. “A little creativity can go a long way to making this a greener and Earth-friendly Christmas for all of us.”


13 December 2010

EcoWaste Coalition launches “Iwas Paputoxic” Drive

Health and environmental advocates from the EcoWaste Coalition, together with over 1,000 students of Kamuning Elementary School in Quezon City, today staged a lively welcome of the New Year minus polluting and health-damaging firecrackers by holding a noise barrage on their campus

In lieu of hazardous firecrackers, the school assembly, led by Principal Salvacion Salve, generated sounds from noisemakers crafted from items commonly found at home and in sari-sari stores. These included such creations as shakers from soap and toothpaste boxes, beverage cans and plastic bottles and maracas from tin cans. Tambourines from flattened bottle caps, as well as cymbals from pots and pans and the all-time favourite torotot, or toy horn, were also used.

The activity was held to relaunch the EcoWaste Coalition’s “Iwas Paputoxic” drive. Now in its fifth year, the campaigns aims to persuade the citizenry, particularly the youth, to refrain from blasting firecrackers this holiday season. Instead, they were encouraged to opt for more creative means of ushering in 2011 that will not endanger life, limb, property and ecosystems.

After the noise barrage, the students recited a pledge to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a clean and safe manner that will not bring harm to themselves, to other beings or to the environment.

Among those present at the launch were the representatives of the Department of Education, Department of Health and the Quezon City Public Library from the government sector, and the Alaga Lahat, Ang Nars, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Miss Earth Foundation, and Zero Waste Philippines from the civil society.

Beauty queens Kris Psyche Resus (Miss Philippines Earth) and Renee McHugh (Miss Philippines Air) also graced the vibrant launch of the "Iwas Paputoxic" campaign.

Speakers at the event cautioned the students about the high risk of being injured by firecrackers. Government data show that 29%, or 288 of the 990 victims of firecracker-related injuries in 2009 were children between 1 and 10 years of age.

“Firecrackers are putting our children’s health and safety in danger, as the bloody statistics show,” said Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition. “As responsible adults, it is our shared duty to safeguard our children from toxic exposure and injuries that could jeopardize their health and development.”

“A little creativity can go a long way towards keeping our children and environment healthy,” continued Alvarez. “It’s also an added bonus that parents won’t have to spend too much to celebrate the holidays, especially in these trying times.”

In addition to the physical harm caused by firecracker-related accidents, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed that firecrackers carry loads of toxic materials that can seriously impair human health.

“Every firecracker that is lit this season contributes to the already worrisome cocktail of toxins in our bodies and environment. It is very ironic that we allow children to play with these dangerous items when they are the ones most vulnerable to toxic effects,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

Citing a DOH health advisory on firecrackers, the EcoWaste Coalition said that firecrackers and fireworks are made up mainly of gunpowder, which is a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and potassium or sodium nitrate and other chemical additives, including heavy metals.

According to the DOH, the blasting of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices generates many pollutants, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur compounds, particulate matter, metal oxides and organic compounds. These pose health risks to infants and young children and those with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

A particular concern for the EcoWaste Coalition is the problem with perchlorate, a toxic chemical commonly used in rocket fuel that is also widely present in fireworks.

Perchlorate affects human health by preventing the thyroid gland from taking in iodine, which is essential to the proper brain development of children. It is also toxic to adults because it prevents the thyroid from releasing hormones that the body needs to function properly, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The US EPA has also linked perchlorate in fireworks to contamination of a lake. Within 14 hours after the fireworks, perchlorate levels rose 24 to 1,028 times above background levels. Levels peaked about 24 hours after the display, and then decreased to pre-fireworks levels within 20-80 days.
Also, a recent study in California showed that babies born in areas where tap water was contaminated with perchlorate had a 50 percent chance of having poorly performing thyroid gland. Drops in the production of thyroid hormone may negatively affect intelligence, the study reported.



10 December 2010

Greens Call on the Commission on Human Rights to Affirm Chemical Safety as a Basic Human Right

10 December 2010, Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, today staged the first ever "Human Rights Day March for Chemical Safety" with an urgent plea to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to uphold the Filipino’s right to be protected against harmful chemicals.

Bearing a large yellow banner with the words “Right to Chemical Safety, Right to a Toxic-Free Future,” over one hundred members of the Coalition in magenta shirts marched from Quezon City Hall to the CHR headquarters along Commonwealth Avenue.

Actress and environmentalist Chin Chin Gutierrez pushed a “kariton” carrying a volunteer wearing a recycled paper globe depicting an ailing Mother Earth whose condition is worsened by the infusion of mock solution labelled “Toxic Chemicals Harm” held by fellow actor Roy Alvarez, the incumbent president of the EcoWaste Coalition.

(Photo by Gigie Cruz)

The marchers presented CHR Chairperson Loretta Rosales with a letter exhorting the agency to issue a “Human Rights Advisory on Chemical Safety. The coalition called on the CHR to champion the unassailable right of every Filipino, including the unborn, to be protected against the risks and hazards caused by toxic chemicals throughout their life cycle.

“The EcoWaste Coalition believes that the CHR, as a national human rights institution, is in a unique position to push for reforms on how chemical safety should be approached in this country,” said Alvarez. “Many chemicals have now been linked to cancer and reproductive, birth and immune system defects. These are serious health issues that urgently need to be addressed.”
(Photo by Gigie Cruz)

The group urged the CHR to underscore the following principles in the proposed chemical safety advisory: 1) precaution, 2) substitution, 3) no data, no market, 4) polluter pays, 5) public’s right to know, and 6) environmental justice.

The EcoWaste Coalition stressed that the Precautionary Principle (PP), a cornerstone of the environmental movement, must always apply. PP refers to the application of measures that can prevent or minimize potentially harmful effects of an activity on human or environmental health even if cause and effect relationships have not been fully scientifically established.

“We cannot afford to gamble with the lives of our people, especially those of future generations,” said Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition. “As it stands, every child born from today will already carry a heavy burden of toxic chemicals in its body. How do we explain that to our children?”

The coalition also stressed that big business and industry should take responsibility for the safety of their products instead of passing the burden onto their consumers. As such, industries should only offer products that have been fully tested and proven safe and fully compliant with essential health and environmental requirements.

The group emphasized that mandatory labelling of chemical ingredients in products would be a strong first step towards educating people about the heath and environmental hazards that certain products may bring. It also pushed the CHR to make manufacturers fully responsible for their products from the point of creation up to the end of their products’ useful lives.

“The Filipino people have the right to know exactly what is being released into their environment,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“By making the right to chemical safety a basic human right, we stand a much better chance of ensuring that our people will be protected from the avarice of business-as-usual policies,” he added.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a global policy and strategy that the Philippines and other governments adopted in 2006, provides an excellent reference to the drafting of the proposed Human Rights Advisory.

When SAICM was adopted, the international community pledged to achieve “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.”

Today's march for chemical safety drew the participation of representatives from EcoWaste Coalition partner groups such as the Advocates for Environment ang Social Justice, Alaga Lahat, Ang Nars, Arugaan, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens' Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance –Philippines, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation, Miriam PEACE, Nagkakaisang Mangangalahig sa Dumpsite Area, Philippine Cancer Institute, Samahang Pagkakaisa ng Tindera sa Talipapa, Sining Yapak and Zero Waste Philippines.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846

08 December 2010

Environment Watchdog Warns Government of Pollution Effects of Unsustainable Tourism Plan

08 December 2010, Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog has warned the Department of Tourism (DOT) that an open skies policy would have an enormous impact on the environment as it would allow unlimited flights by foreign airlines into the country.

EcoWaste Coalition member Rene D. Pineda, Jr., president of the Citizens’ Organizations Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability (COCAP), said the targeted six million tourists by the DOT is also alarming considering the huge waste that these visitors would be leaving behind and the destruction on ecology.

Pineda said DOT Secretary Alberto Lim, an advocate of open skies, clearly disregarded the tourism industry’s additional burden to the country’s solid waste woes and completely ignored the mandate of DOT Memorandum Circular No. 2005-04 declaring “Zero Tourism Waste” as a goal and direction for sustainable tourism and development.

He said the planned six million tourist arrivals annually, projecting that each would stay an average of one week, would translate to additional 21 million kilos of waste requiring 7,000 truck-trips to existing environmentally critical dumpsites. At current P500 per capita appropriation for hauling and dumping waste, he added, about P58 million worth of public funds is required to manage the projected waste.

Pineda, also president of the Partnership for Clean Air (PCA) and member of the executive committee of the Metro Manila Airshed Governing Board, emphasized that the volume of added pollution and greenhouse gases emitted into the air due to the planned increase in aviation traffic due to open skies will inevitably render the National Capital Region uninhabitable.

“It’s frightening that Secretary Lim, in his efforts to attract more tourists, is blindly courting danger and putting the health of the nation at risk for advocating an aviation policy without first studying its impact on the environment,” he said.

Pineda explained that aircraft emissions, air-side support vehicles and airport related traffic contribute to the accumulation of deadly gases like oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and ozone. They also produce particulate matter (PM) sized at 2.5-10 microns that are not visible to the eye as a singular unit and can easily penetrate the lungs.

He said clinical studies conducted at the School of Public Medicine, University of Illinois-Chicago, estimated that as many as five-million people’s health could be affected as a result of just one airport, O’Hare.

The United Nations has released a report that aviation is responsible for over half of the pollution caused by transportation. The European Union’s (land) transport emissions are up 34% since 1990, while its aviation emission has since gone up by 110% due mainly to increased aviation traffic resulting from open skies, he added.

Pineda pointed out that the aviation sector is no different from EDSA’s current situation in terms of lethal level of pollution, chaos, cutthroat competition, and near-empty buses during off peak hours.He quoted aviation pollution studies that said “one aircraft take-off can burn thousands of pounds of fuel; air pollution levels from one 747 takeoff is similar to setting the local gas station on fire and then flying it over your head; and the pollution from just one, two-minute 747 takeoff is equal to operating 2.4 million lawnmowers simultaneously.”

He said this information is frightening considering the National Air Quality Status Report of 2008 disclosing the life-threatening level of air pollution in Metro Manila, particularly in EDSA, where the allowable level set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been breached by more than 300%.

The report said the total suspended air particulates (TSP) in Metro Manila stood at 138 micrograms per normal cubic meter, way above 90 micrograms set by the DENR under the Clean Air Act. And during the first six months of 2010, air pollution in Metro Manila worsened with TSP rising at 163 micrograms, with EDSA reaching a level of 282.

The 2009 World Bank study stated that “over 1.5 million Filipinos of varying ages afflicted with respiratory illnesses annually are due to air pollution in urban areas, notably Metro Manila. The aggregate annual cost of air pollution related illnesses is close to P1 billion, with productivity losses accounting for P502 million, personal costs for diseases treatment accounting for P360 million and government health care subsidiaries accounting for P88 million.”

A Department of Health study in 2004 said that considerable morbidity and mortality due to respiratory and cardiovascular disease could have been prevented if the air quality in Metro Manila is not higher than 50 micrograms of pollutants per normal cubic meter.

“Other countries, particularly the US and European Union, are moving aggressively to limit carbon emissions in the aviation industry yet here we are encouraging more flights on the misguided notion of attracting more tourists,” Pineda stressed.



1. One person generates about ½ kilo of waste daily

2. About 3,000 kilos or three tons of waste is the average capacity of existing dump trucks

3. P500 per capita appropriation for waste hauling and dumping divided by 365 days, multiplied by seven days (projected average stay of a tourist), and multiplied by six million (the projected tourists due to Open Skies) is equal to about P58 million annually.

07 December 2010

“Jiao Li,” other mercury-laced cosmetics resurface in the market – toxic watchdog

Quezon City. A group monitoring dealers’ compliance to government orders banning mercury-tainted cosmetics today bared that “Jiao Li” and other proscribed skin whitening products have re-emerged in Metro retail outlets.

After a week of market surveillance conducted by its “AlerToxic Patrol” from December 1 to 7, the EcoWaste Coalition disclosed that 10 of the 28 skin whitening creams banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this year have reappeared in some health and beauty shops and Chinese drugstores.

The controversial items were tested by the FDA and subsequently banned under four separate Circulars for exceeding the agency’s “allowable limit” for mercury of 1 part per million (ppm), posing “imminent danger or injury to the consuming public.”

“We are very upset to find these health-damaging skin lightening creams on store shelves despite the repeated FDA threat of filing criminal charges against violators,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“Our latest test buys only underscore the need for firm and strict law enforcement in order to protect Filipino consumers from mercury exposure in personal care products,” she added.

The test buys were carried out in stores located in Binondo, Divisoria and Quiapo in Manila, Guadalupe Shopping Center and Makati Cinema Square in Makati City, Starmall Alabang in Muntinlupa City and Baclaran Terminal Plaza Mall in Pasay City.

Among the items that the groups procured with receipts provided were “Beauty Girl Ginseng and Green Cucumber,” “Beauty Girl Olive and Sheep Essence,” “ Dr. Bai,” “Jiao Li 7-Days Eliminating Freckle AB Set,” “Jiao Li 10-Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set,” “Jiaoli Huichusu,” “Jiaoli Huichusu Whitening Speckles Removal Cream,” “Jiaoli Miraculous Cream,” “JJJ Magic Spot Removing Cream,”and “S’Zitang.”

The “Jiao Li” skin lightening creams were among the first two batches of skin lightening products banned and ordered seized by the FDA under Circular 2010-002 and 2010-004 issued on January 8 and February 18, 2010, respectively.

A research by the EcoWaste Coalition further shows that the Government of Hong Kong banned related ”Jiao Li” products way back in 2007 after testing positive for mercury in the range of 3,800 to 13,000 ppm. The tolerable limit of mercury content in cosmetics in China is also 1 ppm.

Citing information from the newly-released book “An NGO Introduction to Mercury Pollution” published by the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), the EcoWaste Coalition warned that cosmetics marketed with the promise of whitening the skin or removing dark spots often contain cancer-causing mercury chloride and/or ammoniated mercury.

According to IPEN, which includes the EcoWaste Coalition as member, mercury-containing cosmetics will initially make the skin lighter by inhibiting the production of melanin, but will later make the skin blotchy causing the user to apply more in an effort to even out the color.

Both the EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN are participating in an ongoing international process involving governments, industries, public interest groups, indigenous communities and other stakeholders to develop a global treaty to control mercury.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the FDA to test three other brands of imported skin whitening creams that the group bought in local stores to determine if they are mercury-free and safe to use.

These products include "Forever Beauty 10 Day Special Cream" and "Pretty Model Whitening and Freckle Removing" from Hong Kong and "AB Miss Beauty Magic Cream" from Taiwan.



Hong Kong Government press release regarding three Jiao Li skin whitening creams:


An NGO Introduction to Mercury Pollution: