30 May 2010

Public Urged to Eliminate Plastic Waste, Remember Ondoy’s Wrath

Quezon City. To mark the end of the Ocean Month and to herald the beginning of the Environment Month, a group campaigning for Zero Waste called on the general public to shun the indiscriminate use and disposal of plastic bags.

The EcoWaste Coalition pleaded for public participation in the ecological management of discards after heavy rains again triggered flash floods in the metropolis, reminiscent of the epic Ondoy flood that devastated the country last year.

“Carelessly thrown plastic bags block the drainage systems and waterways and will find their way into the country’s biggest “landfill”, the Manila Bay, causing massive marine pollution,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Single-use plastic bags are not only littered in streets and rivers. Nowadays, we find the sky littered with colorful plastic bags that are used as fiesta buntings without any thought about their baleful environmental effects,” he added.

“We now know how plastic bags are exacerbating our nation’s garbage woes and how illegally thrown plastic discards are adding to our people sufferings in times of floods and weather disturbances,” he stated.

“Let us not forget the lessons of Ondoy and together cut our waste size, starting with single-use plastic bags,” he requested the public.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged Filipinos from all walks of life to reject all forms of littering and dumping, reduce trash and make it a habit to separate discards at source for reusing, recycling and composting.

It further asked the incoming administration of President-apparent Noynoy Aquino to act on the plastic waste problem.

Noynoy, in his response to the pre-election green survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace, said that he supports a ban on single use plastic bags and other plastic-based disposable containers.

“Over the longer term we must have greater use of biodegradable materials for packaging and containers, and have a sound plan for recovery and recycling of plastics,” Noynoy wrote in his response to the said survey.

A discards survey in 2006 involving EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace volunteers shows that synthetic plastic materials constitute 76 percent of the floating trash items in Manila Bay, with plastic bags comprising 51 percent; sachets and junk food wrappers, 19 percent; Styrofoam containers, five percent; and hard plastics, one percent. The rest of the rubbish found in Manila Bay consisted of rubber (10 percent) and biodegradable discards (13 percent).

Another study published in 2009 by the US-based Ocean Conservancy revealed that 679,957 of over 1.2 million pieces of marine litter of various types that were gathered in seaside areas during the 2008 International Coastal Clean Up Day in the country were plastic bags.

27 May 2010

Green Advocates Laud New Tobacco Regulation, Cite Health and Environmental Benefits


Quezon City. Citizens’ advocates for pollution prevention and chemical safety commended the government and tobacco control campaigners for the issuance of a historic policy requiring picture-based health warnings on tobacco products.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition lauded the Department of Health, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, Health Justice and other groups for the much awaited regulatory action that environmentalists hope will not only curb tobacco use and addiction, but also cut disposal of cigarette butts, “the most littered toxic waste in the world.”

“We applaud the issuance of Administrative Order 2010-0013 which seeks to advance the people’s constitutional right to health and fulfill our country’s obligations under the the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” said Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary,
EcoWaste Coalition.

A.O. 2010-0013 will notify and caution consumers about the hazards of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke through the use of visible and full color graphic health information.

“The new policy, we hope, will be fully and effectively enforced to help arrest the rising prevalence of smoking, especially among our women and youth, and lead as well to cleaner surroundings,” said retired nurse Elsie Brandes De Veyra, Treasurer, EcoWaste Coalition.

Apart from saving lives, the EcoWaste Coalition sees graphic health warnings on tobacco use as necessary to curb and halt pollution from cigarette butts, which the group has branded as “the most littered toxic waste in the world.”

“The whole society will benefit from being informed about the terrible consequences of tobacco addiction that is killing our people and dirtying our environment with toxic smoke and cigarette butts,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited a 2009 report by the Ocean Conservancy which lists cigarette butts, plastic bags and food containers and wrappers as the top three most littered items polluting the marine environment. During the 2008 International Coastal Clean Up Day, some 55,814 pieces of cigarette butts and other smoking-related trash such as tobacco packs and wrappers, spent cigarette lighters and cigar tips were collected in the Philippines.

The uncaringly tossed cigarette butts usually end up in water bodies, polluting the water and killing birds, fish and other wildlife who mistake them for food.

Far from being benign, discarded butts contain some 4,000 left-over chemicals that can leach and harm the ecosystems, especially the marine life. Butts can take up to 15 years to break down, releasing the accrued chemicals and tars in the process.

According to the 2008 WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, most smokers are unaware of the risks of tobacco use, its extreme addictiveness and the full range of health dangers associated with smoking.

“Expanded warnings encourage tobacco users to quit and young people not to start, and help gain public acceptance of other tobacco-control measures such as establishing smoke-free environments,” the report said.

The WHO reported that 100 million deaths were caused by tobacco in the 20th century. If current trends continue, there will be up to one billion deaths in the 21st century. Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths will increase to more than eight million a year by 2030, and 80% of those deaths will occur in the developing world, including the Philippines.

25 May 2010

Brigada Eskwela Cautioned on "Toxic" Makeover of Schools

As the Brigada Eskwela goes in full swing in preparation for the school re-opening, a waste and pollution watchdog reminded volunteers to be cautious of possible toxic exposure from lead in paint, chips and dust during the school clean up activities.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-governmental group campaigning for the elimination of lead in paint, called the attention of the Department of Education and its Brigada Eskwela collaborators from the private and public sectors to keep school premises safe from lead pollution.


It will be recalled that President-apparent Noynoy Aquino and six other presidentiables, in a green survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace prior to the May 10 polls, expressed support for the elimination of lead, a toxic metal, in paint to promote the health and safety of Filipino children.

The EcoWaste Coallition is particularly concerned with the improper removal of old leaded paint from school walls, doors and windows, and the use of lead paint in repainting efforts.

“The improper scraping, sanding or burning of leaded paint can expose the Brigada Eskwela volunteers and the students themselves to toxic pollutants,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“While repainting schools with leaded paint can, in time, pose hazards to children's health from chipping or flaking surfaces,” he added.

“Let us aim for a non-toxic makeover of our schools so that our children can benefit from a clean, healthy and safe environment that they are entitled to,” Calonzo stated.

Citing information from the US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the EcoWaste Coalition warned that lead exposure can lead to delays in physical and mental development, lower IQ levels, shortened attention spans, and increased behavioral problems among children.

According to the UN-backed Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paints (an international partnership that will be meeting in Geneva next week on May 26-28), “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.”

Health experts explain that children are more in danger of being exposed to lead because the toxic substance is easily absorbed by their still developing bodies. Their budding tissues and organs are likewise more sensitive to the harmful effects of lead. Also, their tendency to explore their surroundings and put their fingers and objects into their mouths make children more prone to toxic exposure.

To reduce lead pollution during the back-to-school clean up, leaded paint in good condition should be left undisturbed and should not be sanded or burned off.

For schools that are planning to repaint classrooms and other school facilities, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the use of water-based plastic paints, which generally have low lead contents.

For private companies and other charitable entities that are planning to sponsor school repainting jobs, the EcoWaste Coalition urges them to exercise utmost social responsibility and refrain from donating paint materials that are not lead-free.

A global testing in 2009 of decorative paints involving the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the International POPs Elimination Network found 40% of the 25 samples from Philippines with lead concentrations way beyond the US threshold of 90 parts per million (ppm), with one sample registering a staggering lead level of 189,163.5 ppm. No plastic paint sample had lead concentration higher than 90 ppm.

-end-

To see the paint sampling report, please refer to:
EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

24 May 2010

FDA Asked to Step Up Action vs. Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics


The latest toxic scare in cosmetics in US prompted a non-governmental toxic watchdog to ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to intensify its action against mercury-tainted cosmetics for consumer health and safety.

In a letter delivered today to the office of FDA Director Nazarita Tacandong, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the regulatory agency to conduct further tests on skin whitening creams and lotions for mercury, a toxic metal.

The EcoWaste Coalition also asked the FDA to organize random market inspection and to apprehend and charge dealers of certain China-made skin whiteners that were previously banned by the agency for containing elevated amounts of mercury.

The EcoWaste Coalition further requested the FDA to conduct a more comprehensive testing of cosmetics (for example: fragrance, makeup,lipstick, nail polish, deodorant, shampoo, soap and other personal care products) for chemical substances that are toxic to the brains and are linked to birth defects, endocrine disruption, developmental disorder, cancer and other health problems.

Last Tuesday, Chicago Tribune reported that six of the 50 skin lightening products that it bought and sent to a certified laboratory for testing were found to contain high levels of mercury prohibited under US federal law.

Responding to the Chicago Tribune probe, the US FDA said last Friday that it will investigate skin-whitening creams for dangerous amounts of mercury and will take enforcement action if necessary.

Brands found tainted with mercury include Ling Ji Su (manufactured in China), Luluajina (China), Top-Gel MCA Extra Pearl Cream (Taiwan), Shabright Clear and Bright Formula (India), Stillman’s Skin Bleach Cream (Pakistan) and Crème Diana (Lebanon).

Of these, five tested with more than 6,000 parts per million (ppm) of mercury, with Stillman’s Skin Bleach Cream registering the highest amount of mercury at 29,600 ppm. The Philippine FDA’s allowable limit is 1 ppm.

Zenna Chemical Industry Co. notified Chicago Tribune that the tainted Top Gel products could be counterfeit, claiming that the company’s own laboratory results indicated no mercury in their products.

Following the disclosure that attracted media attention all over US, the EcoWaste Coalition’s “AlerToxic Patrol” combed 18 drug stores, beauty shops and grocery stores in Binondo, Quiapo and Paco to check if the said products are sold locally.

“We were able to buy one of the brands from various outlets, but we have yet to establish if the items we got were the same samples Chicago Tribune sent to the lab for testing. We therefore request the FDA to duly test them and assure the public that only safe products are sold in the market,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT.

But, what really shocked the “AlerToxic Patrol” was the ease of buying skin whitening products that were already banned by the FDA by virtue of FDA Advisory 2010-002 and FDA Circular 2010-004.

“What came as a shocker during our store investigation was the easiness of buying mercury-tainted Jiao Li skin whiteners that the FDA banned in February this year,” Lucero pointed out.

FDA had earlier instructed food and drug regulation officers to seize the mercury-tainted cosmetics and even sought the help of all enforcement agencies to apprehend and lodge appropriate criminal action against those selling the banned items.

“For the health and safety our women consumers, we urge the Department of Health, particularly the FDA, to actively seek the elimination of mercury and other harmful chemicals such as lead, phthalates, dioxane, formaldehyde, hydroquinone and steroids in personal care products, and to conduct more effective consumer advisories to inform and educate our people about chemical hazards and safer alternatives,” Lucero added.

According to “Mercury: A Priority for Action” published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects including skin rashes, and can reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders.

Direct and prolonged exposure through the skin during repeated applications can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys, the UNEP said.
-end -

Click to see photos of six skin whitening products that Chicago Tribune reported to have high mercury levels:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-0517-skincream.eps-20100518,0,4359807.graphic

Click to read the Chicago Tribune report:

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

23 May 2010

Noynoy Urged to Put Together "Best, Brightest and Greenest Cabinet"

Environmentalists today urged President-apparent Noynoy Aquino to encircle himself not only with the “best and brightest minds,” but also with the “greenest” to ensure a pro-environment government.

Noynoy in a recent TV interview told reporters that his Cabinet will be a “mix of new and old faces, best and brightest minds.”

The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that all Cabinet officials, not only the Environment Secretary, should have a demonstrated love and concern for the Mother Earth.

The EcoWaste Coalition and over 60 groups had earlier provided Noynoy with a 10-point criteria to guide him in selecting the next Environment Secretary who should be "a person with indubitable integrity, indefatigable leadership, unstinting political will and above all, faithfulness to ecological values."

“A green Cabinet will be Noynoy’s principal partner and machinery for achieving his Social Contract with the Filipino people, specifically in delivering his promise to advance and protect the public health and the environment,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope that Noynoy will be able to assemble the best, brightest and greenest Cabinet with a committed heart for the poor who will work in sync to release the people from poverty, reverse the unimpeded destruction of our natural environment, combat toxic pollution and mitigate climate change,” he added.

“Protecting the environment is pivotal to the success of Noynoy’s reform agenda, and he will surely need a team of leaders who will do exactly just that,” Alvarez emphasized.

For her part, Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, stated that: "The cleansing of our country should not be limited to sweeping corruption away, but also cleansing our country of policies and practices that encourage a throw-away culture. Ecological resource recovery and protection should be one of the pillars of the Aquino presidency."

Green Cabinet officials, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, segregate and recycle their discards at home and in the workplace and are not wasteful, respect trees and defend our dwindling forests, uphold human and ecological health from toxic and mindless development, and subscribe to the “Philippine Agenda 21” or the national agenda towards sustainable development.

The presumptive President-elect through the Social Contract has committed a shift “from a government obsessed with exploiting the country for immediate gains to the detriment of its environment to a government that will encourage sustainable use of resources to benefit the present and future generations.”

In the same Social Contract, Noynoy expressed his commitment to turn around the environmental blight, congestion and decay afflicting our cities by “planning alternative, inclusive urban developments where people of varying income levels are integrated in productive, healthy and safe communities.”

The group also cited Noynoy’s response to the pre-election green survey jointly conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace where the now President-apparent indicated several of his environmental plans, including his plan to certify as urgent a legislative measure that will “delineate once and for all forest lines in the country, as a clear basis for the crafting of a comprehensive national land use policy.”

As far as addressing climate vulnerabilities, Noynoy plans “to draw up detailed local and community-based action frameworks for adaptation with a clear emphasis not just on rescue, recovery and rehabilitation but on research, risk-management and restoration of damaged communities over a longer term.”

“To be able to carry out his environmental plans, Noynoy will require a green-minded Cabinet who will work hand-in-hand to strengthen and accomplish his green agenda with the indispensable support and participation of the Filipino people,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

-end-

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

18 May 2010

Open Letter to President-Elect Noynoy Aquino regarding the Criteria for the Selection of the Next DENR Secretary

18 May 2010

His Excellency Benigno S. “Noynoy Aquino III
President-Elect
Republic of the Philippines
c/o Room 526, Senate of the Philippines,
GSIS Financial Center, Roxas Boulevard,
Pasay City, Philippines

Dear Mr. President,

SUGGESTED CRITERIA FOR THE SELECTION OF THE NEXT DENR SECRETARY

Congratulations on your election as the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines.

We join the Filipino people in taking pride in your election as the “People’s President” and wish you success in bringing about a new era of transformational leadership and green governance that our nation has long been praying for.

We remember your 16-point Social Contract, specifically your commitment to shift “from a government obsessed with exploiting the country for immediate gains to the detriment of the environment to a government that will encourage sustainable use of resources.”

In your statement on the occasion of Earth Day 2010, we happily noted your promise, as part of your strategy to lift our society out of declining environmental conditions, to work for the “strict enforcement” of the country’s environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

To fulfill your environmental objectives, your Excellency will need to appoint an alter ego at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) -- one who has indubitable integrity, indefatigable leadership, unstinting political will and above all, faithfulness to ecological values in pushing for real solutions to the whole gamut of environmental issues that we face. These include the formulation and implementation of adaptation strategies to foster public preparedness and resilience to climate change, and instituting chemicals policy reforms towards a toxic-free society for our children and people.

We therefore offer for your consideration the attached set of criteria with the hope that it will be a helpful and useful guide to the Search Committee and the Office of the President in the screening and selection of the ablest person to lead the DENR.

The DENR being the principal agency that is tasked to defend and uphold the people’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, we request you, Mr. President, to please apply the said criteria for appointing its head who will be primarily tasked to fulfill your contract with the people for sustainable environment and development for all.

Thank you, Mr. President, and we wish you and and our beloved nation every success under your watch.

Sincerely yours,

Roy Alvarez
President
EcoWaste Coalition


SUGGESTED CRITERIA FOR THE SELECTION OF THE NEXT ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY:

Building on President-elect Noynoy Aquino’s reply to the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) survey question regarding the qualities of his prospective Environment Secretary, various citizens’ groups would like to propose to the Search Committee and to the incoming President himself to please consider the following criteria in choosing the next person who will take the helm of the principal agency that is tasked to “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

She or he:

1. Must be of unquestionable integrity, with no links whatsoever to environmentally critical or destructive projects and activities;

2. Must essentially understand how the earth functions and therefore place the environmental protection agenda at the heart of government policy (e.g., not as a secondary consideration to trade and industrial development);

3. Must be an ecologist with unstinting passion for the environment to help transform the DENR into an agency that will be true to its mandate of protecting the environment (e.g., not facilitating
environmental destruction otherwise);

4. Must have the courage and political will to weed out corruption in the DENR, reverse environmental ruin and redouble the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws;

5. Must possess the vision and the political will to transform the DENR into a transparent and accountable agency and who realizes that stakeholders participation to decision-making process is a must for any program to be effective and sustainable;

6. Must be able to apply practical solutions, cost effective means to get over obstacles and can harness various sectors to support decisions for the environment that may not be acceptable to some sectors due to their economic interests;

7. Must have the political will and the gumption to make industry comply and can harness the department and law enforcement agencies to bring down the full force of the law against violators;

8. Must be a visionary, dynamic and creative to transform a festering environmental problem (like garbage for instance) into an opportunity that will help generate jobs and energize our communities
into positive action;

9. Must be committed to moving the nation quickly from its dependence on dirty, climate destroying and polluting technologies to clean alternatives (e.g., fossil fuels to renewable energy, advance clean production, etc.); and

10. Must be committed to safeguarding our people's health against toxic chemicals and to applying the precautionary principle, enforcing pollution prevention and reduction strategies, upholding environmental justice and other relevant policies and measures that will contribute to building a toxic-free society for the health and safety of all, especially the Filipino children.

ENDORSED BY:

Chin-Chin Gutierrez, Alaga LAHAT
Jessie Dimaisip, Akbayan
Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Ang NARS
Edlyn Grace Corpuz, ATSITRA
Joey Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics
Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao
Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
Comm. Elsie Brandes de-Veyra, Citizens Organization Concerned with
Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Esther Pacheco, Citizens Organization Concerned with
Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Neneng Jocson, Confederation ng Kalikasan, Nueva Ecija
Grace Chua, Consumer Rights for Safe Food
Fr. Glen Melo, Diocese of Tandag, Surigao del Sur
Antonio Claparols, Ecological Society of the Philippines
Roy Alvarez, EcoWaste Coalition
Angie Esquejo, Empowerment, NE
Dr. Ma. Encarnita B. Limpin, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Alliance Philippines
Manny Calonzo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Dr. Nina Galang, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment
and Sustainable Economy
Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Albert Gavino, Green Stage Filipinas – MASKARA
Cathy Untalan, Miss Earth Foundation
Bing Gonzalez, Health Advocate of Nueva Ecija
Merci Ferrer, Health Care Without Harm
Florita Dumaga, HUGALNA, Bohol
Lia Esquillo, Interface Development Interventions, Inc.
Anne Ferazzini, Interface Development Interventions, Inc.
Eileen Sison, Institute for the Development of Educational and
Ecological Alternatives
Roland Cabigas, La Liga Policy Institute
Sr. Maria Aida Velasquez, Lingkod Tao Kalikasan
Betty Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc.
Fe Juane, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Allan Tura, Makabata para sa Bayan, Inc.
Rosa Palma-Piciller, Malayang Tinig ng Kababaihan sa Komunidad
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation
Noemi Tirona, Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms
Romeo Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
Charie Balaong, Nueva Ecija Women Leaders Advocacy Coalition
Felina Delfin, Outreach Phils, Inc
Ruperto B. Aleroza, Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan
Reynante V. Ramilo, Philippine Federation for Environmental Concern
Isagani Serrano, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
Ricky Nunez, PUSOD
Marie Marciano, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod sa Inang Kalikasan
Ben Galindo, Sagip Pasig Movement
Bro. Martin Francisco, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc.
Fr. Pete Montallana, OFM, Save Sierra Madre Network
Tom Villarin, SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao Consortium for Asset Reform
and Regional Development
Bang Palacio, Sining Yapak
Dr. Helen Mendoza, Soljuspax
Ma. Ronely D. Bisquera-Sheen, Tanggol Kalikasan
Ofelia Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines
Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr, Diocese of Caloocan
Atty. Amang Mejia, Counsel, EcoWaste Coalition
Fidel Nemenzo, Science and Society Program, College of Science, UP Diliman
Dr. Romy Quijano, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, UP Manila
Fr. Jett Villarin, President, Xavier University
Nonoy Cacayan
George Dadivas
Bro. Karl Gaspar, CSsR
Atty. Tanya Lat
Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos
Elsie Retanan
Victoria M. Segovia

17 May 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Advises Parents to Watch Out for Potentially Toxic School Supplies

Quezon City. A watchdog against toxic chemicals in products has cautioned parents against buying school supplies that can expose children to harmful substances and affect their growth and development.

As parents troop to Divisoria or to their favorite malls and stores for the annual “back-to-school” shopping, the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-governmental organization campaigning for chemical safety, urged them to be critical when making purchase decisions.

At the same time, the group asked the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to conduct a random testing of typical school supplies for priority chemicals of concern to guide parents on which products to avoid.

“It is the responsibility of parents to make informed choices that will protect their children, who are most vulnerable to chemical exposure, from toxins that are lurking in school supplies that they use everyday,” said retired chemist Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition.

“To help parents perform such responsibility for their children’s health, the least the government can do, in the absence of a comprehensive chemicals policy in the country, is to strictly enforce product labeling requirements and issue product safety advisories and precautions on items containing toxic chemicals,” asserted Thony Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“To be able to do that, we call upon the government, particularly the DTI, to conduct random testing of usual school supplies, especially those products that are most popular and accessible to bargain hunting shoppers in Divisoria and other similar places,” Dizon added.

The EcoWaste Coalition is particularly concerned with the continued use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or plastic number 3, in school supplies and other children’s articles such as toys.

PVC has been referred to as the “poison plastic” because of the health and environmental hazards it poses from its production (the use of cancer-causing chemicals to manufacture PVC), consumption (the leaching of chemical additives such as cadmium, lead, organotins and phthalates) and disposal (the formation of dioxins when PVC is produced and burned), the EcoWaste Coalition explained.

Phthalates, which are PVC softeners or plasticizers, can leach out or evaporate over time and pose irreparable life-long heath issues such as autism, asthma, and developmental, nervous, reproductive and respiratory problems. Because of the grave risks posed to children’s health, the United States in 2008 banned PVC in toys.

“Children are at risk from even small exposures to these toxic chemicals. That’s why it’s important to purchase PVC-free school supplies,” advised the US-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), an organization founded by Lois Gibbs of the victorious Love Canal struggle in New York against a leaking toxic waste dump.

The EcoWaste Coalition has previously cooperated with CHEJ in releasing a 2008 report on vinyl shower curtains that can discharge toxic chemicals into the air.

The CHEJ has published a “Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies,” which offers practical tips on how to avoid toxic school supplies. Some of these tips include:

1. Avoid backpacks with shiny plastic designs as they often contain PVC and may contain lead.

2. Use cloth lunchboxes or metal lunchboxes. Many lunchboxes are made of PVC, or coated with PVC on the inside.

3. Used cardboard, fabric-covered, or polypropylene binders. Most 3-ring binders are made of PVC.

To download the wallet version of the Guide for your shopping needs on the go, please log on to
http://www.chej.org/publications/PVCGuide/PVCwallet.pdf

Here are the more specific tips from CHEJ to help you make safer and non-toxic choices for your children's health and future:

A. Art Supplies
Avoid modeling clays made of PVC. Polymer clays are often loaded with phthalates. Look for clays made without PVC and phthalates, or make your own (recipes are available online such as at http://www.theholidayzone.com/ recipes/dough.html).

B. Backpacks
Avoid backpacks with shiny plastic designs as they often contain PVC and may contain lead.

C. Clothing and Accessories
Look for PVC-free materials in rainwear (i.e. rain boots and raincoats), prints on clothing, and accessories such as handbags, jewelry and belts.

In purchasing accessories like purses and jewelry, look for fabrics and other materials rather than plastics. Choices include jacquards, velvets, crinkled crepes, satins, wood, metals, pearls, rhinestones, etc.

D. Electronics
Avoid electronics manufacturers who have not committed to phasing out PVC and other toxic chemicals in their production. For a list of companies that are going PVC-free, consult the latest edition of Greenpeace’s Greener Electronics Guide that can be found that can be found at http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/toxics/hi-tech-highly-toxic

Buy electronics from companies who have pledged to responsibly “take it back” at the end of its useful life.

E. Food Wrap
Use PVC-free butcher paper, waxed paper, parchment paper, low density polyethylene (LDPE) or cellulose bags.

Ask the manager of your grocery store to stock PVC-free food wrap for meats and cheeses in the deli.

F. Lunchboxes
Use cloth lunch bags or metal lunchboxes. Many lunch boxes are made of PVC, or coated with PVC on the inside.

G. Notebooks
Avoid notebooks containing metal spirals encased in colored plastic. The colored plastic coating on the metal spirals usually contains PVC. Select notebooks with uncovered metal spirals to avoid PVC.

H. Organizers and address books
Choose organizers/ address books made with sustainably harvested wood, metal, or paper covers. Avoid those made of plastic – these sometimes contain PVC.

I. Packaging of School Supplies
Avoid single-use disposable packaging whenever possible.

Avoid the three-arrow "recycling" symbol with the number 3 and/or the initials PVC; indicating it’s made with PVC. If no symbol is present, call the manufacturer's question/ comment line listed on the package to find out what it’s made of.

Avoid products packaged in unlabeled plastics, such as clamshells and blister packs, which may contain PVC.

Choose products with packaging made from more easily recycled materials like paper (look for those with higher post-consumer recycled content), paperboard, and glass.

J. Paperclips
Stick to the plain metal paperclips. Colored paper clips are coated with PVC.

K. Three-Ring Binders
Use cardboard, fabric-covered, or polypropylene binders. Most 3-ring binders are made of PVC

L. Umbrellas
Avoid shiny and colorful plastic umbrellas as these are typically made out of PVC. Look for those made out of other materials such as nylon.

M. Utensils and Dishware
Use stainless steel utensils. If you require disposable dinnerware, look for bio-based (made with PLA or PHA plastics) cutlery and plates.

Use glass or stainless steel drinking containers. If you require plastic, avoid PVC, polystyrene (PS) and polycarbonate (PC) plastics.

Never microwave with plastics. Use glass, stoneware, or ceramic dishware and containers instead. Heating plastic increases the chances of chemical additives such as bisphenol A, phthalates or other additives leaching into food and beverages.

16 May 2010

Poll Winners Urged to Refrain from Putting Up "Thank You" Tarpaulins

A waste and pollution watchdog advised politicos not to add to the post-election street clutter and garbage with unnecessary “thank you” billboards, banners and posters.
The EcoWaste Coalition implored all politicians to be environmentally-sensitive amid growing complaints against the wastefulness of the last electoral exercise and the politicians' lack of initiative to lead or join the clean up drive.
“We appeal to all politicos to please resist the temptation of putting up ‘thank you’ tarpaulins that can only add to post-election garbage woes,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“Please understand that we have yet to clear the streets of campaign materials used in the last election and here you are aggravating the mess with a new wave of tarpaulins,” he said.
For example, the EcoWaste Coalition cited the busy streets of Arnaiz, C. Jose, F. B. Harrison and Zamora in Pasay City and their adjacent streets which remain plastered with campaign materials as of today, May 16.
“They surely can express their gratitude by going out of the streets and leading community 'bayanihan' to remove and recycle unsightly campaign materials,” Calonzo said.
"Above all, the most meaningful 'thank you' that politicians can make is to offer the people a real honest-to-goodness public service minus self-aggrandizement and corruption," he pointed out.
EcoWaste Coalition volunteers have monitored the sprouting of “thank you” messages that are usually placed in major hubs and thoroughfares and in pedestrian overpasses and footbridges.
Reports reaching the Secretariat of the environmental network show that “thank you” tarpaulins have been spotted in various parts of the metropolis such as in España Blvd., Lacson Ave., Ongpin St., Roxas Blvd. and Plaza Miranda in Manila, Quezon Memorial Circle, E. Rodriguez Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. in Quezon City, 9 de Febrero St.and Martinez St. in Mandaluyong City, and SLEX, Parañaque City.
While saying “thank you” is part of our national culture, the EcoWaste Coalition believes that it can be done differently without causing environmental degradation, including visual pollution, from ubiquitous tarpaulins.
For instance, grateful politicos can thank their constituents – using their personal or party funds – by organizing feeding programs for street children, the elderly and the indigents, while also stressing that Styropor food containers should be avoided as these will also add to the garbage problem.
Another option is to donate funds meant to print and install tarpaulin announcements to support charitable causes such as the children cancer ward of the Philippine General Hospital, or to help victims of the devastating fires that left thousands of families in Barangay Damayang Lagi in Quezon City and Barangay Cupang in Muntinlupa City homeless.
“We hope that politicians will stop the wasteful practice of putting up tarpaulin announcements to thank their supporters or to greet their constituents for every imaginable occasion as tarpaulins do not really make people and Mother Earth happy,” Calonzo said.

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

14 May 2010

Thank You Chief Justice Reynato Puno

As Chief Justice Reynato Puno bids farewell as leader of the Supreme Court for the last 42 months, we honor and thank him for the many critical judicial reforms that he successfully shepherded and brought to fruition.

In addition to the establishment of the green courts all over the country, the promulgation of liberalized court procedures for environmental cases, which, among others, introduced potent tools for environmental defense such as the temporary environmental protection order, citizen suits, precautionary principle and the Writ of Kalikasan, are his life- impacting legacies that we are particularly grateful for.

Aside from asserting the independence of the judiciary, private citizen Puno will be remembered for his effort to make real the “Johannesburg Principles on the Role of Law and Sustainable Development,” which recommended improved people’s participation in environmental decision-making and enhanced public right to information and access to justice for the resolution of environmental disputes and the protection and enforcement of environmental rights.

Now that he has stepped down, we expect the judiciary to continue to faithfully implement the “Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases” in keeping with its role as guardian of our constitutional rights to life, health and to a balanced and healthful ecology.

We trust the courts to actively discharge their indispensable role in the movement for environmental justice, which “seeks fairness to the poor and the powerless in allocating the burdens of pollution, noxious development and resource depletion.”

Thank you, Chief Justice Puno, for the work that you have done to uphold environmental health and justice and for constantly reminding us, in your own words, "that we breathe the same air below one Heaven, above one earth, and under one environment.”

Roy Alvarez
President, EcoWaste Coalition

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

12 May 2010

Green and Yellow Volunteers Hold Ecological Post-Election Clean Up

Green beauty queens and campaigners for Mother Earth and yellow-clad supporters of presidential race frontrunner Noynoy Aquino braved the blistering summer heat to get rid of unsightly political materials used in the recently-concluded polls.

Miss Philippines-Earth 2010 Kris Psyche Resus led some 100 participants belonging to the EcoWaste Coalition, Miss Earth Foundation, PiNOY Power and local residents in removing campaign materials at the vicinity of the Flora Ylagan High School in Malakas St., Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City.

Resus were joined by fellow eco-queens Miss Philippines-Fire Gwennaelle Ruais, Miss Philippines-Air Renee Rosario McHugh and Miss Philippines-Earth runner up Nadine Bendigo.

Together with Barangay Captain Jesus Lipnica, Jr., the combined green and yellow team of beauty titlists, environmentalists and supporters of winning presidential bet Noynoy Aquino conducted an “eco-clean up” with the two-fold objective of promoting the removal of campaign remnants without delay and ensuring that the materials are duly segregated to facilitate recycling.

The other groups that took part in the clean up drive were the Akbayan, Buklod Tao, Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation, Malayang Tinig ng Kababaihan sa Komunidad, November 17 Movement, Sagip Pasig Movement, Sining Yapak and Zero Waste Philippines.

“By choosing to segregate and recycle the campaign discards, we prevent resources such as paper, plastic and wood from being wasted often through dumping or burning,” Resus said in a statement.

“We bat for eco-clean up because it is not enough just to rid the surroundings of campaign discards and then transfer pollution to other communities where dumpsites operate despite known hazards to human and environmental health,” explained Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, neither dumping nor burning will truly solve the post-election garbage woes.

“The campaign discards may be out of sight after a usual clean up, but they’re really far from gone since waste dumping and burning can cause the formation of toxic leachate and gases that can pollute the air, water and soil and even the food supply,” the waste and pollution watchdog said.

At the eco-clean up, the participants removed assorted campaign materials, mostly made of paper and plastic, that were on school walls, waiting shed, street posts and cables.

After removal, the materials were then sorted, bundled and placed on used rice sacks that bear the recycling symbol of three chasing arrows.

The segregated paper and plastic materials were brought and sold to a junk shop for recycling.

The bamboo frames were given to the barangay for gardening and other useful purposes.

“With this action, we hope to encourage our people to get into the post-election clean up mode that should be carried out with urgency and with the health and safety of our communities in mind,” the groups said

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

10 May 2010

Now that the people have cast their ballots, let the eco-cleanup begin

While the whole nation eagerly awaits the final election results, a waste and pollution watchdog prodded all politicos and their followers to now shift their energy to the clean up mode.

“Now that the people have cast their ballots, we urge all candidates and their supporters to work fast in tidying up our streets and neighborhoods of campaign materials. The sooner these campaign remnants are removed the better it is for community health, safety and environment,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Reusable and recyclable materials should be retrieved now before the elements ruin the valuable stuff," he added.

“Also, the quick removal of all campaign propaganda will hopefully hasten the mending of political discord that escalated during the heated campaign, so we can move on as one people to actualize the change that we seek for the common good,” he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically asked those who run for the presidency, namely former President Erap Estrada, Senators Noynoy Aquino, Dick Gordon, Jamby Madrigal and Manny Villar, former Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro, Councilor JC de los Reyes, evangelist Eddie Villanueva and environmentalist Nicky Perlas, to lead the national post-campaign clean up and recycling efforts.

“By showing leadership in the cleanup and recycling drive, the incoming President as well as the other candidates will be sending strong signal to the entire nation that now is the time for ecological
recovery and action,” Calonzo said.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the initiative of the Davao City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) to mobilize all the barangay captains in the planned city-wide removal of campaign
materials on May 11.

The Davao CENRO last Wednesday gathered the barangay officials to enjoin them to participate in the cleanup drive, which can also provide the barangays with some revenues from the sale of recyclable campaign materials.

“If only the National Solid Waste Management Commission and all the other local government units, particularly at the barangay-level, can do the same, we are certain that the volume of campaign trash will not only decrease, but will also get recycled instead of being burned or buried,” said Calonzo.

The EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Miss Earth Foundation, recently launched a 3Rs (repurpose, reuse, recycle) drive in order to keep used campaign materials out of dumpsites and landfills.

While 3Rs will not completely solve the waste and toxic pollution associated with the electoral campaign, both groups believe that repurposing, reusing and recycling campaign discards will yield a number of benefits.

3Rs, the groups say, will contribute to:

- reduced garbage and cleaner and healthier communities
- reduced expenses for waste collection and disposal
- reduced demand for virgin materials
- reduced emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants
- reduced deforestation with the recycling of paper

3Rs will further lead to:

- expanded opportunity for resource conservation

- expanded consciousness among citizens to take environmental action
- expanded individual and group creativity and resourcefulness
- expanded family and community cooperation and self-reliance
- expanded job creation, especially if carried out on a bigger scale

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

08 May 2010

"May 10 is not a holiday for litterbugs" (EcoWaste Coalition appeals to voters not to litter for eco-friendly polls)

A waste and pollution watchdog that has been tirelessly pushing for waste-free polls today made a last-ditch attempt to persuade the Filipino electorate to keep the polling precincts clear of trash.

“We appeal to all democracy-loving Filipinos not to litter as we exercise our right to suffrage and our right to participate in setting the course of our nation’s future. Let us not turn May 10 into a holiday for litterbugs,” said Eileen Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Keeping the polling places litter-free should be part and parcel of our common hope for a truly clean election that will not happen without the unity of everyone,” she added.

“A trash-free election day will be in accord with our country’s continuing war against wastefulness that is steadily wiping out our natural resource base, degrading our environment and harming the climate with pollutants,” pointed out Sison who is also the NGO representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the appeal as the Commission on Elections and other stakeholders brace themselves for the first ever automated election in the nation’s history, involving some 50 million registered voters.

The watchdog called to mind the tons of preventable litter created in the countless campaign sorties and rallies during the 90-day campaign period that will end today at midnight, describing the often ignored ban on littering as injurious to the environment, climate and the people themselves.

To illustrate the impact of wasting paper discards such as sample ballots and promotional materials, the EcoWaste Coalition cited data from the “A Recycling Revolution” (http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-facts.html) showing that each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, and 7,000 gallons of water, representing a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.

According to the same source, the 17 trees saved can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year, adding that burning the same ton of paper would create 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Burning chlorine-containing campaign discards can also cause the formation and release of dioxins, the most toxic chemicals known to science, into the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition also stressed.

“As you can see, recycling paper discards will have tremendous benefits, so why litter and waste those sample ballots and leaflets and create preventable health and environmental pollutants,” Sison said.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Miss Earth Foundation last May 4 launched a 3Rs (repurpose, reuse, recycle) drive to encourage the public, including the local government units, in finding creative and beneficial uses for campaign discards to ensure that they are not dumped or burned and add to the chemical pollution of the environment.

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

07 May 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Releases Green "Ten Commandments" for Choosing the Country's Next Leaders

As the campaign for the May 10 polls enters the final stretch, the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-partisan environmental network advancing a green electoral agenda, has released the following “Ten Commandments on How to Choose Green Candidates” to guide the electorate in choosing candidates for national as well as local positions who can lead the country to a greener and toxic-free future

The EcoWaste Coalition urges the voting public to consider the group’s environmental “Ten Commandments” in making their choices for the upcoming polls.

1) Thou shall not vote for candidates who use the 5Gs to win: Guns,Goons, Gold, Gin and Garbage. Vote for candidates who stand for the essential Ms: Malinis (Clean), Maayos (Orderly), Matipid(Thrifty), Mapanindigan (Principled), Marangal (Honorable), Mapayapa (Peaceful), Makatao (Humane), Makalikasan (Pro-Nature) and Maka-Diyos Godly). Moreover, support candidates known for their simple, pro-people and ecological lifestyle.

2) Thou shall not support candidates who nail, staple, strap or plaster campaign materials on defenseless trees and other restricted sites. Vote for candidates who love and plant trees, use the least amount of campaign materials and abide by the campaign rules.

3) Thou shall not pick candidates who use smoke belching vehicles that contribute to poor air quality. Go for candidates who walk or ride bicycles rather than those who come in convoy of cars. Vote for those who use fewer vehicles in motorcades and cut fuel consumption and emissions.

4) Thou shall not fall for candidates who make beautiful speeches about their love for the people and the environment, but fail to match their words with deeds. Does the candidate walk his talk? Check ifshe/he is engaged in any environmental advocacy or project, or has financial interest in any polluting and environmentally destructive business. Vote for those who live by what they say.

5) Thou shall not select candidates who profess to protect the environment, but are mute on what they intend to do. Ask the candidates, point blank, on how they intend to serve the interest of the environment. For instance, ask how they intend to protect andconserve our diminishing water resources. Vote for those who will work earnestly to heal and preserve the environment.

6) Thou shall not choose candidates who are hooked to the outmoded “hakot-tambak-sunog” (haul-dump-burn) and fail to act against illegal dumps. Vote for those who segregate their discards at home and in the work place and support ecological, low-cost and community-driven alternatives to dumps, landfills and incinerators.

7) Thou shall not vote for candidates who ignore the health, environmental, socio-economic and human rights concerns against 'sanitary’ landfills, ‘waste to energy’ incinerators, dams, coal power plants and similar projects. Vote for candidates who will assert the people’s sovereign right to a clean, safe and healthy environment. Go for candidates who will work for sustainable economy and ensure that the people’s basic needs are met and not kowtow to the dictates of big business and international funding institutions.

8) Thou shall not elect candidates who want to build big dams and allow mining, logging and other extractive industries to rape our land and abuse human rights, especially the rights of our indigenous peoples. Vote for those who will take up the cudgels for the human as well as non-human victims, such as trees, plants and wildlife, of environmentally-damaging human activities.

9) Thou shall not back candidates who remain silent against the health, safety and other threats of cigarette smoking, the aerial spraying of agrochemicals, and of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Vote for candidates who will advance tobacco control, the people’s right to safe and healthy food as well as food production systems that nurture the earth.

10) Thou shall not vote for candidates who refuse to act on chemical pollution, toxic waste and the climate challenge. Vote for candidates who see the need for preventive and precautionary actions to advance chemical safety and a toxic-free future for all. Go for candidates who oppose new coal power projects and support clean renewable energy investments to address the nation’s energy needs and beat climatechange.

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

06 May 2010

Groups Push for Stronger Pollution Prevention Laws to Safeguard Breastmilk - the Best Food for Babies


Child, maternal and environmental health advocates have urged the incoming administration to enact and enforce the strongest pollution prevention laws to protect breastmilk – the most complete and “Zero Waste” food for babies - from chemical contaminants.

The shared call by the Arugaan/Save Babies Coalition, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives coincides with the release of the report “Mother Earth, Mother’s Milk, Mothers’ Stories: Breastfeeding in a Chemically Contaminated World” at the ongoing 18th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York City, which, among others, will address issues concerning toxic chemicals.

The report containing the results of a recent biomonitoring project that tested breastmilk of five first time mothers from Alaska, Czech Republic, Kenya, Mexico and the Philippines will be given to delegates to remind them of the levels of personal pollution around the globe and the level of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in breastmilk.

Biomonitoring is a scientific tool that identifies and measures amounts of chemical substances or their breakdown products in human tissues or fluids. Test results can shed light on the failures of existing chemical regulations as well as pinpoint necessary improvements in public health policy regulation.

Participant mom from the Philippines Mary Ann Lantin of Batangas provided breastmilk samples to promote societal support for breastfeeding and to raise awareness about toxic chemical body burdens and the need for stronger and more comprehensive regulation to stop personal pollution.

The biospecimens of breastmilk were tested for a short list of toxic chemicals called POPs, including some organochlorine pesticides and flame retardants.

POPs endure in the environment and in humans for long periods of time. POPs have been linked to serious ailments such as asthma, learning and developmental disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, greater susceptibility to some infectious diseases, infertility, and cancers.

“The government has a big responsibility to ensure that breastfeeding flourishes and that breastmilk is protected from contamination. The government must stop the production and use of harmful chemicals,” Lantin said as quoted in the report.

“Breastmilk, even when it contains industrial chemicals, remains the best food for babies as affirmed by many scientific studies. Some studies indicate that breastmilk may reverse damage that may have occurred during critical periods of development in utero from toxic chemical exposures. Breastfeeding is even more important for the health of the baby, given the chemically contaminated world we all inhabit, and into which the baby is born” said Sharyle Patton of Commonweal, the California-based group that coordinated the biomonitoring project.

“We congratulate Mary Grace Lantin and all the participating mothers for breastfeeding their kids and for speaking out in favor of chemical reforms to protect the integrity of breastmilk, the best food for babies,” said Ines Fernandez of Arugaan/Save Babies Coalition, a local affiliate of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.

“We urge the incoming administration to pay close attention to the right of every Filipino baby to be breastfed and further ask them, particularly the new President, to ensure a safe and non-toxic environment for all by taking action against toxic chemicals that pose hazards to human health and the environment,” said Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, which coordinated the Philippine participation in the biomonitoring project.

The biomonitoring results show that all the five participating mothers had quantifiable concentrations of six major organochlorine pesticides or their by-products.

All of them had quantifiable levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers(PBDEs), which are flame retardants commonly used in airplanes, building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, plastics, polyurethane foams and textiles.

Prepared by Commonweal, the Moms and POPs Projects and the International POPs Elimination Network, “Mother Earth, Mother’s Milk and Mothers’ Stories” underscores the need to promote breastfeeding while halting the pollution that is poisoning our bodies and our communities.
EcoWaste Coalition Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St. Quezon City, Philippines +63 2 441-1846 ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

04 May 2010

Green Groups Launch 3Rs Drive to Preempt Post-Election Garbage Crisis

Quezon City. Anticipating an avalanche of post-election garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Miss Earth Foundation sounded the alarm bell and sought public cooperation in keeping the campaign discards out of dumpsites and landfills.

In a public event held in Barangay Central, Quezon City, the newly crowned Miss Philippines-Earth 2010 Kris Psyche Resus and her court joined forces with Zero Waste advocates in promoting simple yet creative 3Rs (repurpose, reuse, recycle) solutions to avert a potential garbage crisis after the May 10 polls.

“We have come here today with an earnest message to the Filipino people that it is better to repurpose, reuse and recycle the huge volume of campaign discards than to burn or bury them and in turn pollute our communities,” said Resus.

Joining Resus were the other eco-queens, namely: Miss Philippines-Water Emerie Dale Cunanan, Miss Philippines-Fire Gwennaelle Ruais, Miss Philippines-Air Rene Rosario McHugh and Miss Philippines-Eco-Tourism Angela Fernando.

“By adopting innovative ways of keeping tarps and other campaign materials out of the waste stream, we prevent these useful resources from being wasted, while cutting pollution that is making the people and the planet sick,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It is not enough that the posters and banners are removed without delay after the polling day. It is also imperative that these materials are not burned or hauled into the dumpsites, which are
already bursting at the seams,” the groups stated.

As a long-term measure, the groups see the need for the Commission on Elections to initiate a review of how the election laws are responsive or not to the need to protect the environment from waste, toxic and pollution before, during and after the political campaign.

Both groups are hopeful that the concerted efforts by responsive individuals, families, civic groups, churches, businesses, local government units and, not to forget, the politicos, will significantly reduce the amount of campaign trash for disposal.

“We hope that through the ‘bayanihan’ involving all sectors of the community we can considerably trim down the quantity of waste materials requiring collection and disposal,” the groups said.

The Miss Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition cited a number of benefits that should encourage the public to support the groups' latest crusade for 3Rs. Among these benefits are:

- reduced garbage and cleaner and healthier communities
- reduced expenses for waste collection and disposal
- reduced demand for virgin materials
- reduced emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants
- reduced deforestation with the recycling of paper
- expanded opportunity for resource conservation
- expanded consciousness among citizens to take environmental action
- expanded individual and group creativity and resourcefulness
- expanded family and community cooperation and self-reliance
- expanded job creation, especially if carried out on a bigger scale

Some of the ingenious and functional 3Rs ideas for typical campaign discards include turning tarpaulins into aprons, bags, stuff organizers and recycling sacks, using plastic posters as kites, fly swatters and shower curtains, crafting paper posters into note and sketch pad, and utilizing cardboard posters to make signage and visual aids.

In addition, enterprising citizens have the option of selling recyclables to junk shops or to itinerant recyclers. For example, assorted campaign paper can sell for PHP1-2/kg and white paper can fetch PHP10-12.50/kg.

The ideas were contributed by Alaga LAHAT, Buklod Tao, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Green Stage Filipinas-MASKARA Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Mother Earth Foundation, Sining Yapak, Zero Waste Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat.


TIPS:
Creative Repurposing, Reuse and Recycling Ideas to Keep Campaign Trash Out of Dumpsites and Landfills


A. Tarpaulin Poster/Banner
- Transform into reusable fashion bags, shopping bags, beach bags or relief goods bags.
- Cut and sew into place mats, coasters, table covers, refrigerator runners, seat covers and wallets.
- Turn into functional organizers for slippers, shoes, small umbrellas and other stuff that can be hung at the back of the door.
- Cut and stitch into a vendor’s apron, especially for fish and meat sellers.
- Turn into sacks for segregating recyclable materials such as paper, bottle, plastic etc.
- Save oversized tarpaulins and use them as picnic or activity mats.
- Repurpose huge tarpaulins as “lona” for meetings and other activities.
- Donate as roofing and sleeping materials for indigents.
- Use as window awnings and canopies for homes, shops and offices.
- Use tarps to block the sun or as rain shield.
- Use as awnings for tricycles and jeepneys.

B. Cloth Streamer
- Like tarps, cloth streamers can be used to block heat and glare.
- Cut into strips and coil into floor mats.
- Repurpose into rags.

C. Plastic Poster and Buntings
- Sew into aprons.
- Turn into shower curtains
- Use as book or notebook covers.
- Cut into strips and fashion as fly swatters.
- Cut into strips to make plastic yarn that can be crocheted into functional items such as bags and containers.
- Turn into saranggola (kites).

D. Paper Poster
- Use as wrapping paper.
- Use as notebook or book cover.
- Keep and use for paper molding and paper mosaic projects.
- Make paper bags and envelopes out of discarded paper campaign materials.
- Cut into scrap pieces of paper and fasten or bind into a note, scrap or sketch pad.
- Use colorful and shiny posters to make paper beads for recycled paper earrings and necklaces.
- Shred and use as bedding for pet animals.
- Compost soiled paper that can no longer be reused or recycled.

E. Cardboard Poster
- Save cardboards as materials for announcements, signage and instructional materials.
- Reuse cardboards to repair or protect paperback books.
- Save cardboard posters and use them as unique gift tags.
- Make picture frames out of cardboards.
- Design a bookmark out of the cardboards and other paper scraps.

F. Leaflet and Sample Ballot
- Shred and use as bedding for pet animals.
- Craft into novelty items such as paper vases, bags and mats.

G. Poster and Streamer Bamboo or Wooden Frame
- Use for bamboo fencing, trellis and for other garden use.
- Repurpose bamboo slats as venetian blinds and other functional crafts.
- Use as firewood.
- Turn bamboo slats into a bamboo planter or flower pot cover.
- Use as kite frame.

H. Alambre/Wire
- Use in making garden fence and functional items.

I. Other campaign paraphernalia
- Keep the three or four-side campaign lanterns that are often used as street or tree buntings and restyle them as Christmas or other decorative lanterns.

J. Be an eco-entrepreneur. Sell recyclable campaign discards to the junk shops near you. Here are the buying rates for typical campaign discards (prices may vary):

Plastic Poster: P8/kg
Paper Poster: P1/kg
Cardboard Poster: P1/kg
Sample Ballots: P2/kg (brown), P10-12.50/kg (white)|
Assorted Paper: P2/kg
Wire (alambre): P2/kg

03 May 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for Litter-Free Political Rallies

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog for the nth time urged politicos and their followers to keep their rallies clean and not to leave rally sites without cleaning them up.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-partisan environmental group, pleaded for ecological action after thousands of supporters of Liberal Party presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino and his ticket massed up yesterday near the People Power Monument on EDSA.

An on-the-spot inspection by the EcoWaste Coalition this morning, which was prompted by a DZBB radio field report, found portions of EDSA and the White Plains Avenue littered with yellow confetti, various candidates’ promotional materials, plastic posters and Styrofoam food containers. The group also found yellow ribbon lanterns that were left hanging around the People Power Monument.

Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) foreman Eduardo Fonto, who was on site to supervise the cleanup, told the EcoWaste Coalition that dozens of personnel took part in cleaning up the mess. The campaign discards were then hauled to the MMDA basealong Julio Vargas Avenue in Pasig City.

“We are worried that the same sorry sight will get repeated in countless rallies being planned by national and local politicians as the lively campaign for elective posts wraps up this week,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We therefore ask all aspiring public servants, regardless of their political persuasions, to lead by example and ensure that their remaining campaign sorties and their grand miting de avance will not degrade the environment with trash,” he added.

“For the sake of the public health and the environment, please enforce a zero tolerance on litter in your political activities,” Alvarez pleaded.

For a cleaner miting de avance, the EcoWaste Coalition has proposed the following steps:

- Shun throwing confetti, exploding firecrackers or releasing balloons.

- Refrain from using Styrofoam, plastics bags and other single-use items for the volunteers’ meals and drinks.

- Set up sufficient number of segregated waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards in the assembly area.

- Designate “eco-volunteers” to look after the bins and guide the public in the ecological management of discards.

- Engage and pay for local waste pickers to ensure the recycling of segregated discards.

- Clean up right after the event.

- Do not dump or burn campaign discards.

“We remain hopeful that all sincere candidates will heed our call for waste-free rallies and do their share in safeguarding the health and wellness of our communities from preventable sources of pollution and disease,” Alvarez stated.