31 October 2010

Bishop, environmentalists urge La Loma Cemetery visitors to get rid of "Zombasura" habits




Environmental advocates from the church and the civil society today asked visitors to the oldest cemetery in Metro Manila not to turn into “Zombasura,” the notorious cemetery litterbugs.

In an event held at the main entrance of La Loma Catholic Cemetery, members of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Diocese of Kalookan Ecology Ministry reminded visitors to keep the historic burial site free of garbage.

Opened in 1884, the “Campo Santo de La Loma” is the resting place of many famous Filipinos, including the country’s first and second Supreme Court Chief Justices Cayetano Arellano and Victorino Mapa; Librada Avelino, founder of Centro Escolar University; Josefa Llanes Escoda, initiator of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines; and Felisa Dayrit, a revolutionary nurse.

“Zombasura” volunteers donning red and black masks embellished with assorted plastic waste welcomed cemetery visitors and encouraged them not to leave any trash in the nearly 54-hectare memorial park.

“I call upon the faithful to remember and pray for our dearly departed in a way that will not worsen the garbage problem in our communities,” said Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. of the Diocese of Kalookan.

“I particularly urge those going to La Loma to help in keeping the cemetery litter-free,” he pleaded.

“Our time-honored tradition of remembering the dead should not defile our Mother Nature,” added Bishop Iñiguez who also heads the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

The EcoWaste Coalition echoed the prelate’s plea for an ecological observance of “Undas,” stressing that cemeteries should not be treated as garbage disposal sites.

“La Loma and other cemeteries are not dumping grounds for our discards. We go there for the primary purpose of offering prayers of remembrance and gratitude to our deceased family members and friends,” said Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Reckless disposal in the cemetery makes us ‘Zombasura,’ dirtying the hallowed site with trash,” he lamented.

“For a change, let us get rid of our ‘Zombasura’ habits, cut our waste size and be responsible for our discards,” he suggested.

To prevent and reduce waste and pollution in cemeteries, the EcoWaste Coalition proposes the following steps:

1. Walk, bike, carpool or take the public transportation to the cemeteries.

2. Select clean-burning candles that do not yield black fumes or ash. Lit a reasonable number only to minimize heat and pollution. Do not let candles’ plastic receptacles or holders to burn.

3. Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, or consider bringing potted plants and flowers instead. Simple, inexpensive flowers will do. Avoid wrapping floral or plant offerings in plastic, which will sooner or later end up as trash.

4. Don’t play loud music, tone down noise in the cemetery, and help make the place conducive to prayers and to family bonding, too.

5. Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water. Discarded plastic bottles add up to the country’s garbage problem. Plastics bottles, which are petrochemical products, also require lots of oil and chemicals to manufacture. Please watch The Story of Bottled Water to find out why: http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/

6. Go for waste-free meals. Say yes to reusable carriers, containers, and utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and silverwares. Say no to throw-away bags, wraps, foil or Styrofoam, paper napkins, and forks and spoons. Also, refrain from patronizing junk food and go for simple yet nutritious home-prepared baon.

7. Buy less or only as much as you know you will consume in terms of food and beverage. Bring bayong or other reusable bags to carry your stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers from vendors.

8. Cut your waste size by not creating trash in the first place such as by purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and avoiding single-use plastic disposables.

9. Take full responsibility for your discards. Put them into the recycling bins and never litter. Better still, bring your own discards bags and bring them home for sorting, reusing, recycling or composting. Remember to leave the resting places of your loved ones litter-free.

"Let us show our respect for the dead and also for the living by keeping the cemeteries litter-free at all times. Please don't become a Zombasura this Undas," the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the public.

-end-

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

28 October 2010

EcoWaste Coalition appeals to major retailers to make their reusable bags more affordable to consumers


An environmental network has requested major retailers to bring down the price of their eco-friendly bags to attract more Filipinos, especially consumers on tight budgets, to drop use of plastic bags in favor of reusable bags.

Beginning next month, participating malls and supermarkets will observe every Wednesday of the week as“Reusable Bag Day” by not giving free plastic bags and charging a fee for plastic bags used.

Reusable bags, noted the EcoWaste Coalition, come with a hefty price tags that are not attractive to ordinary consumers who would like to shun plastic bags but are constrained by their capacity to pay for reusable bags.

“The cost of procuring reusable bags may be getting in the way of popularizing reusable bags among the majority of our consumers,” said Sonia Mendoza of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Plastics.

“Budget-conscious consumers, even if they appreciate the ecological benefits of reusable bags, are put off buying anything expensive,” she observed.

Based on the market investigation conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, prices of certain reusable bags range from P25 to P295.

Hi-Top Supermarket’s reusable bags are sold for P25 each, SM at P35 each, National Book Store P65, Healthy Options P75, Robinson P90, Shopwise/Rustan P99.50 for canvas bags and P60 for waterproof bags, and Body Shop at P295 each.
“We definitely welcome the initiative of these market leaders to introduce eco-friendly bags and we hope that more supermarkets and stores will join the green bandwagon,” Mendoza said.

“Any scheme that will allow consumers to get their reusable bags for free or at a discounted or subsidized price will hopefully bring about increased preference and demand for reusable bags,” she emphasized.

Mendoza specifically proposed the promotion of home-based, job-generating industry in the provinces, with support from the private and public sectors, that can flood the market with more affordable and durable eco-friendly bags that are preferably made from non-plastic, cloth-based and locally-sourced materials, knowing that plastic reusable bags will, sooner or later, disintegrate and pose disposal problems.

For her part, Gigie Cruz, another member of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Plastics, advised consumers to make a “financial sacrifice” as she exhorted them to put in some money for reusable bags – if they are not able to make their own - for the sake of the environment.

“We request consumers to consider making a financial sacrifice in terms of buying reusable bags, which in the end will yield fabulous benefits in terms of decreasing the environmental and health impacts of plastic bags, particularly in reducing disposal and clean up expenses that our government is paying out of taxpayers’ money." She said.

Expenses incurred for minimizing plastic waste, which is in line with the goals of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, are deductible from gross income, reminded Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of the Philippine Earth Justice Center.

Chapter IV of RA 9003 provides for various incentives to encourage and support local government units, business enterprises, non-government organizations and other entities to actively implement ecological solid waste management, including waste prevention, reduction, reuse and recycling activities.

Also, expenses for giving complimentary or low-cost reusable bags, the EcoWaste Coalition said, can be sourced from operational savings such as from reduced electricity bills due to planned energy conservation program (e.g., less use of Christmas lights during the yuletide season), or from revenues from the sale of recyclable packaging materials such as corrugated boxes.

The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that retailers should actively encourage their customers to make and bring their own reusable bags by providing financial and non-financial rewards such as discount, rebate or movie or museum pass for earth-friendly patrons.

To further instill the reusable bag habit among shoppers, the EcoWaste Coalition also proposed that shop cashiers and attendants should make it a practice of asking customers “May dala kang reusable bag?” (“Did you have a reusable bag with you?”)
-end-

Additional Information:
Members of the EcoWaste Coalition from the Angkan ng Mandirigma, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Earth Justice Center and Soljuspax have identified a number of options that could make reusable bags more within the means of Filipino consumers.

One suggestion would be for major retailers to produce X number of reusable bags that they can give away in a day to their customers and that the next bags will have to be purchased at cost as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Another suggestion is to encourage retailers to partner with civic organizations who can give out reusable bags to poorer communities while doing an awareness-raising on the significance of switching to reusable bags.

A related suggestion is for retailers to venture with barangays in producing reusable bags as a livelihood program for community women who can sew bags from used clothing or fabric materials donated by residents. Retailers will only need to pay for the sewing cost at P5-P10/bag.

One more suggestion is for retailers to consider providing free or low-priced reusable bags during the anticipated Christmas shopping spree in December as a gesture of gratitude to their loyal customers.

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

27 October 2010

Groups campaign for waste reduction in cemeteries, urge the public not to become "Zombasura"

Concerned groups have combined their voices to encourage the public not to sully the cemeteries with trash.

In a joint action today, the EcoWaste Coalition, Miss Earth Foundation and the management of the Manila North Cemetery urged citizens not to turn into “Zombasura” this coming “Todos los Santos” or “Undas.”

The event also drew the support of Buklod Tao, Diocese of Kalookan Ecology Ministry, EARTH-UST, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Manila City Health Office and the Manila Department of Public Services.

A “Zombasura” (a word jumble of “zombie” and “basura” or trash), the groups explained, is a creature who does not care for her or his surroundings and tend to litter the graveyard with rubbish.

“Our age-old custom of remembering our deceased loved ones is messed up by the many ‘Zombasura’ in our midst,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope that our celebration this time around will be marked with simplicity, spirituality and utter respect for both the dead and the living,” he said.

On November 1 last year, some nine truckloads of garbage were generated by the mammoth crowds who visited the Manila North Cemetery as told by the Manila North Cemetery Administration to the EcoWaste Coalition.

Common "Undas" trash includes various types of single-use plastic bags, polyethylene plastic bottles, polystyrene plastic food and beverage containers, plastic wrappers, carton boxes, soiled papers, cigarette butts, food leftovers, grass cuttings and other organics.

In 2008, some 180 trucks of garbage, weighing 1,145 tons, were collected from November 1 to 5 in the Manila North, Manila South and Chinese Cemeteries, according to the Manila City Hall.

“We look forward to reduced garbage generation this year. With the cooperation of the visitors, vendors and other caring citizens, we can surely make our cemeteries cleaner places to visit for safer family reunions,” said Mr. Edgardo Noriega, Administrator of the Manila North Cemetery.

For her part, former beauty queen Cathy Untalan, Executive Director of Miss Earth Foundation, emphasized that “our year-round campaigns underscore the importance of adopting a zero waste lifestyle in everything that we do and not just in certain times.”

“The observance of All Saints Day and All Souls Day should be no different. Last year, we experienced Ondoy and hopefully it taught us important lessons of the urgency to take care of our environment. If not, nature will always find ways to haunt us until we change our ways,” she stated.

Also present to support waste reduction efforts in cemeteries were Rene McHugh, Miss Philippines Air 2010; Emmerie Dale Cunanan, Miss Philippines Water 2010; and Angela Fernando, Miss Philippines EcoTourism 2010.

Here are some of the practical tips to guide the public in reducing trash this coming Undas:

1. Clean the tombs of your departed ones without causing pollution — for example, from the burning of grass and plant cuttings and garbage piles.

2. Walk, bike, carpool or take the public transportation to the cemeteries.

3. Select clean-burning candles that do not yield black fumes or ash. Lit a reasonable number only to minimize heat and pollution. Do not let candles’ plastic receptacles or holders to burn.

4. Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, or consider bringing potted plants and flowers instead. Simple, inexpensive flowers will do. Avoid wrapping floral or plant offerings in plastic, which will sooner or later end up as trash.

5. Don’t play loud music, tone down noise in the cemetery, and help make the place conducive to prayers and to family bonding, too.

6. Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water. Please watch The Story of Bottled Water to find out why: http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/

7. Go for waste-free meals. Say yes to reusable carriers, containers, and utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and silverwares. Say no to throw-away bags, wraps, foil or Styrofoam, paper napkins, and forks and spoons. Also, refrain from patronizing junk food and go for simple yet nutritious home-prepared baon.

8. Buy less or only as much as you know you will consume in terms of food and beverage. Bring bayong or other reusable bags to carry your stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers from vendors.

9. Cut your waste size by not creating trash in the first place such as by purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and avoiding single-use plastic disposables.

10. Take full responsibility for your discards. Put them into the recycling bins and never litter. Better still, bring your own discards bags and bring them home for sorting, reusing, recycling or
composting. Remember to leave the resting places of your loved ones litter-free.


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

EcoWaste Coalition's Tips for Garbage-Free Undas

EcoWaste Coalition's Tips for Garbage-Free Undas:
I. FOR CEMETERY ADMINISTRATORS

• Carry out a recycling program within their sites, including the possibility of engaging the service of waste pickers in adjacent neighborhoods.

• Put up recycling stations (at the minimum two separate bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards), especially in high traffic areas (entrances, exits, toilets, vendor areas etc.).

• Hang cloth banners in strategic spots to announce that the cemetery is a waste-free zone and that everyone is enjoined not to litter, dump or set discards, including grass clippings, ablaze.

• Integrate the ecological management of discards in catering and vendor rules and regulations, including essential waste prevention and reduction requisites.

• Orient and require other potential waste generators such as the accredited volunteer support groups to abide by the cemetery waste policy.

• Make use of the public address system to politely inform and persuade all to support the cemetery’s effort to avoid and cut trash.

II. FOR AMBULANT MERCHANTS, FASTFOOD STALLS AND OTHER BUSINESS SHOPS

• Refrain from giving away plastic disposables such as bags, straws, cups, and other single-use plastic items. Hand them out only upon request.

• Serve food and beverage in reusable glasses and mugs, plates, and cutlery.

• Courteously show your customers where to put their discards for recycling or disposal.

• Bring your own trash bags or bins, keep them from overflowing, and keep your areas clean at all times.

• Make a final sweep of your assigned spaces, ensuring that all trash has been properly removed.

III. FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC

• Clean the tombs of your departed ones without causing pollution — for example, from the burning of grass and plant cuttings and garbage piles.

• Walk, bike, carpool or take the public transportation to the cemeteries.

• Select clean-burning candles that do not yield black fumes or ash.

• Lit a reasonable number only to minimize heat and pollution. Do not let candles’ plastic receptacles or holders to burn.

• Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, or consider bringing potted plants and flowers instead. Simple, inexpensive flowers will do. Avoid wrapping floral or plant offerings in plastic, which will sooner or later end up as trash.

• Don’t play loud music, tone down noise in the cemetery, and help make the place conducive to prayers and to family bonding, too.

• Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water. Please watch The Story of Bottled Water to find out why: http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/

• Go for waste-free meals. Say yes to reusable carriers, containers, and utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and silverwares. Say no to throw-away bags, wraps, foil or Styrofoam, paper napkins, and forks and spoons. Also, refrain from patronizing junk food and go for simple yet nutritious home-prepared baon.

• Buy less or only as much as you know you will consume in terms of food and beverage. Bring bayong or other reusable bags to carry your stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers from vendors.

• Cut your waste size by not creating trash in the first place such as by purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and avoiding single-use plastic disposables.

• Take full responsibility for your discards. Put them into the recycling bins and never litter. Better still, bring your own discards bags and bring them home for sorting, reusing, recycling or composting. Remember to leave the resting places of your loved ones litter-free.


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

25 October 2010

Let the cleanup begin!





Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan campaign materials thrive in front of the Flora A. Ylagan High School in Malakas St., Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City, site of the Barangay Central polling precincts.

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

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for Post-Election Community Cleanup


Quezon City. “Let the cleanup begin.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, today called on all Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) candidates in the country’s 42,025 barangays to get rid of their campaign materials before they degenerate into health and environmental hazards.

Despite the limited campaign period of only 10 days, Barangay and SK bets spents tons of paper and plastic materials – from leaflets, stickers, posters, streamers, buntings to sample ballots - to reach out and win over their grassroots constituents, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

“Win or lose, we appeal to poll candidates to start removing all banners, posters and other campaign materials from around their communities,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Sooner or later, these materials will degenerate into health and environmental hazards, turning into garbage, blocking storm drains or falling onto innocent motorists or pedestrians,” he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically advised incoming Barangay Chairpersons to lead the community cleanup drive.


As the barangay chief executive, the Chairperson is mandated under R.A. 7160, or the Local Government Code, to enforce laws and regulations pertaining to pollution control and environmental protection.

Under R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the Chairperson is tasked to head the Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee, which, among others, is responsible for drawing up and implementing a waste plan, including the establishment of a materials recovery facility to promote recycling.

“Please salvage materials that can still be repurposed and do not just throw or burn them,” Alvarez also said.

Banners and posters made of tarpaulin, for instance, can be sewn into reusable bags and other functional items such as aprons, stuff organizers and as containers for common household and workplace recyclables such as paper, bottles, cans and plastics.

Repurposing retrieved campaign discards will bring about real community benefits, including garbage disposal savings, greenhouse gas emission cuts, and healthier barangays with reduced trash, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“We also appeal to successful bets not to put up ‘thank you’ tarpaulins anymore, which will only add to the post-election garbage woes,” Alvarez added.

“In lieu of boring and ‘plastic’ signage, please say ‘thank you’ by organizing street, market or estero cleanup or tree-planting activities involving your constituents,” he suggested.

-end-


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

22 October 2010

Voters urged to pick pro-environment Barangay and SK bets

Quezon City. With the Barangay ang Sangguniang Kabataan polls just around the corner, an environmental coalition urged voters to back pro-environment candidates at the ballot box in the wake of super typhoon Juan.

“Our country, a recognized disaster hotspot, needs grassroots leaders who will take up the cudgels for our fragile environment,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We need women and men who will lead our communities to the path of sustainability and ensure that the earth’s resources are faithfully cared for,” he said.

“Being in the forefront of public service, our Barangay and SK leaders have a tremendous role to play in the fulfilment of the community task of protecting and conserving the environment amid the changing climate,” he noted.

“Now more than ever, we need non-corrupt public servants who will clean up our streets and rivers of garbage, halt toxic pollution, plant trees and guard our mountains against destructive activities such as logging, mining and dumping,” he added.

“So please include the candidates’ environmental track record and platform when you vote and go beyond the candidates’ looks, popularity and resources,” he emphasized.

One of the key responsibilities that aspiring Barangay and SK leaders will face once they get elected is how to prevent and reduce community trash, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the EcoWaste Coalition said, provides a useful framework to guide communities in keeping their neighbourhoods clean and green by not resorting to littering, dumping and burning of discards.

The said law requires the establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRFs) or ecology centers in every barangay or cluster of barangays in order to energize community-driven recycling and lessen dependence on dumpsites, landfills and other polluting disposal facilities.

“Unfortunately, there are still many barangays that have yet to comply with R.A. 9003,” observed Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Citing information from the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the EcoWaste Coalition said that only 6,141 MRFs operate in 6,744 barangays of the country's 42,000 barangays.

In Metro Manila, of the 1,695 barangays in Metro Manila, only 435 are being serviced by MRFs.

“It is our hope that our new batch of barangay and SK leaders will recognize the gravity of our waste disposal problem and pursue climate-friendly Zero Waste solutions,” Hidalgo added.

Zero Waste, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, is the most practical community action that Barangay and SK councils can initiate and carry out, together with residents, to promote ecological community values, conserve resources, stop the discharge of climate damaging pollutants and boost local economies.

"It's the best approach to turn our barangays into litter-free and healthy communities that our children can safely and happily grow in," he further said.

A 2009 report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition, listed the following as basic elements that should form part of a community shift from waste disposal to Zero Waste. These are:
  • reducing waste disposal in landfills and incinerators to zero;
  • investing in reuse, recycling and composting jobs and infrastructure;
  • requiring that products are made to be non-toxic and recyclable;
  • ensuring that manufacturers of products assume full social and environmental costs of what they produce;
  • ensuring that industries reuse materials and respect worker and community rights; and
  • preventing waste and reducing unnecessary consumption.

15 October 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Asks Candidates to Show Mercy to Helpless Trees




Quezon City. An environmental organization has appealed to candidates of the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls to spare trees of all types of campaign materials.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which is promoting a Mother Earth-friendly electoral exercise, issued the appeal with urgency as the grassroots political fever heats up.

“Please show mercy to our life-sustaining trees and spare them of posters, banners and other materials meant to woo voters,” pleaded Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We urge all candidates and their supporters to demonstrate ecological responsibility by ensuring that their campaign gimmicks do not in any way harm the trees and degrade the environment,” he added.

“Let not the nine-day campaign period be an occasion to violate the trees and our Mother Earth as a whole. Instead, let it be an occasion to show our connection and respect for all the gifts of creation,” he pointed out.

Alvarez, an avid tree lover, explained that trees clean and supply humans and animals with breathable air, store water and prevent soil erosion and floods, serve as homes for other living organisms and provide food, medicine, paper, shade and other essential needs.

The nailing of campaign materials could stress out and inflict wounds on trees and result to stunted growth and even death, he warned.

Reports reaching the EcoWaste Coalition showed that campaign materials are nailed, stapled or hanged on some trees situated along Bronce St. in Malabon City, N. Garcia St., J.P. Rizal Ave.,
Zapote St. and South Ave. in Makati City and in Pasig Line and Pedro Gil St. in Manila.

Campaign posters on trees were also spotted in some barangays in Quezon City such as in Barangay Amihan where these are nailed on narra trees, and in Barangay Quirino 2-A where these are found in some coconut, mango and star apple trees.

Campaign materials, including old ones from the May 2010 local and national elections, were also found in some trees located in the Forestry Compound, Barangay Central, also in Quezon City.

In Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City, volunteers alerted the EcoWaste Coalition on campaign posters nailed on some trees in Malakas, Matapang, Matimpiin and Mapang-akit Streets.

The country’s elections laws forbid the posting of campaign materials on trees as well as in bridges, churches, electric posts, schools, shrines, public structures or buildings and along main roads.

Aside from political materials, the EcoWaste Coalition also lamented what seems to be a common practice to nail business advertisements on trees, particularly for "lipat-bahay," septic tank siphoning, plumbing, tutorial and other services.

"We request well-meaning poll candidates as well as enterprising citizens to voluntarily bring down their political and commercial materials that should never be nailed on trees in the first place," the EcoWaste Coalition said.

13 October 2010

EARTH-FRIENDLY CAMPAIGN





Members of the EcoWaste Coalition hold ballot boxes to signify the power of the people through the ballot to elect leaders who will watch over the environment and nurse our ailing Mother Earth back to health. Green activists urge aspiring Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders to prevent and reduce campaign trash and promote environmental protection.

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

Greens Appeal to Barangay and Youth Candidates to Care for Mother Earth

Quezon City. As thousands of aspiring Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders hit the campaign trail starting tomorrow, green activists reminded them to be respectful of the environment as they race to woo voters in their respective communities.

The EcoWaste Coalition in a creative action held today in front of the Quezon City Hall called the candidates’ attention to the dire situation of the environment and the need for concerted action during and after the electoral campaign.

As a poignant reminder of the state of the environment, the activists presented a tableau of an ailing Mother Earth lying on a bed of garbage with a non-mercury thermometer in her mouth and covered with a blanket made of assorted political posters and tarpaulins left over from the May 10 elections.

Beside the bed-ridden Mother Earth were activists holding mock ballot boxes signifying the power of the people through the ballot to elect leaders who will watch over the environment and nurse her back to health.

Among those who joined the EcoWaste Coalition-led event were members of Ang Nars, Buklod Tao, Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foudation and Zero Waste
Philippines.

“The October 25 polls provide an exceptional platform for would-be public servants to make a stand for the environment,” stated Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We call upon all candidates and their supporters to conduct a simple and caring campaign that will preserve and protect the community environment from destructive practices,” she said.

“We further request them to emphasize environmental and health education, protection and mobilization at the grassroots as integral components of their proposed program of government,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition invited all candidates aspiring for at least 336,200 elective positions in the country’s over 42,000 barangays to shun campaign practices that defile and pollute the environment such as the:

- nailing, hanging and pasting of campaign materials on trees and other places prohibited by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC);
- spending beyond the COMELEC ceiling of P3 per registered voter in the barangay;
- producing too much campaign materials that only end up as garbage;
- driving smoke-belching vehicles in campaign motorcades;
- blasting extremely loud political jingles and speeches;
- leaving trash in campaign sorties; and
- failing to remove campaign materials immediately after the polls.

For a climate and environment-friendly campaign, the EcoWaste Coalition invited candidates for the October 25 synchronized Barangay and SK polls to observe the following guidelines.

To get started, the EcoWaste Coalition proposes that all those running for the polls should assign a person or team in the campaign structure who will be responsible for greening the campaign strategies and activities.

Candidates should refrain from using excessive campaign materials such as leaflets, pamphlets, posters, stickers, decals, cloth and tarpaulin streamers, and other campaign paraphernalia.

As much as possible, propaganda materials should be in post-consumer recycled paper and carry a friendly reminder that says “para sa ating kalusugan at kalikasan, huwag pong ikalat, itambak o sunugin” or its equivalent in local languages.

Candidates should refrain from using campaign materials that are hardly reused or recycled such as confetti, buntings and balloons, which often get burned or discarded in waterways, seas and dumpsites.

Politicos should spare the trees of propaganda materials that can harm and even kill them, and reject graffiti or vandalism to popularize themselves.

For litter-free campaign meetings, sorties and related activities, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following:

• Shun throwing confetti, exploding firecrackers or releasing balloons in campaign events.
• Refrain from using Styrofoam, plastic bags and other single-use containers for volunteers’ meals and drinks.
• Set up segregated waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards in campaign assemblies.
• Designate “eco-volunteers” to look after the bins and guide the public in the proper separation of their discards.
• Clean up right after the campaign event.
• Hire eco-aides to handle the segregated wastes for recycling and composting.

11 October 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Calls on the Public Not to Trash the Cemeteries

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog has called on the public to observe the upcoming All Saints’/All Souls’Days in a manner that will truly honor the dead by keeping the cemeteries and surrounding communities trash-free.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of more than 100 groups, made the timely appeal as Catholic Filipinos make ready to visit the cemeteries in huge numbers to pay respect to departed relatives and friends.

“The beautiful tradition of remembering the dead has become a huge garbage challenge with the supposedly hallowed burial sites instantly turning into dumpsites by insensitive visitors,” observed Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Let us respect the dead and not desecrate the cemeteries with trash,” he pleaded.

"The fragile state of the earth’s climate should rouse us into simplifying our rituals and make do with less candles, flowers, meals and definitely less plastic disposables,” he added.

“Through a waste-free ‘Undas,’ we also curb the climate impact of our memorial day for the dead, increase the recovery and recycling of resources and lessen the amount of trash going into the dumpsites,” he added.

The drive for an eco-friendly “Undas” has earned the backing of a Catholic Church leader.

“We join the EcoWaste Coalition in exhorting the faithful to think about the environment of the living when remembering our dearly departed,” stated Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr.

“Please cut back on garbage, noise and air pollution for a healthier environment for all,” Bishop Iñiguez, who also heads the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said.

To guide the public in observing an eco-friendly “Undas,” the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with practical suggestions for cemetery administrators, entrepreneurs and the general public.

Among those who provided suggestions were Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., Franciscan priest Father Pete Montallana, statesman ex-Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. and environmental leaders from Buklod Tao, Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Mother Earth Foundation, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society and the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat.

I. For cemetery administrators, the Ecowaste Coalition suggests the following:

1. Carry out a recycling program within their sites, including the possibility of engaging the service of waste pickers in adjacent neighborhoods.

2. Put up “recycling stations” (at the minimum two separate bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards), especially in high traffic areas (entrances, exits, toilets, vendor areas etc.).

3. Hang cloth banners in strategic spots to announce that the cemetery is a “waste-free zone” and that everyone is enjoined not to litter, dump or set discards, including grass clippings, ablaze.

4. Integrate the ecological management of discards in catering and vendor rules and regulations, including essential waste prevention and reduction requisites.

5. Orient and require other potential waste generators such as the accredited volunteer support groups to abide by the cemetery waste policy.

6. Make use of the public address system to politely inform and persuade all to support the cemetery’s effort to avoid and cut trash.

II. For ambulant merchants, fastfood stalls and other business shops, the EcoWaste Coalition proposes the following:

1. Refrain from giving away plastic disposables such as bags, straws, cups and other single-use plastic items. Hand them out only upon request.

2. Serve food and beverage in reusable glasses and mugs, plates and cutlery.

3. Courteously show your customers where to put their discards for recycling or disposal.

4. Bring your own trash bags or bins, avoid them from overflowing, and keep your areas clean at all times.

5. Make a final sweep of your assigned spaces, ensuring that all trash has been properly removed.

III. For the general public, the Ecowaste Coalition makes the following suggestions:

1. Clean the tombs of your departed ones without causing pollution, for example, from the burning of grass and plant cuttings and garbage piles.

2. Walk, bike, carpool or take the public transportation to the cemeteries.

3. Select clean-burning candles that do not yield black fumes or ash. Lit a reasonable number only to minimize heat and pollution. Do not let candles’ plastic receptacles or holders to burn.

4. Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, or consider bringing potted plants and flowers instead. Simple, inexpensive flowers will do. Avoid wrapping floral or plant offerings in plastic, which will sooner or later end up as trash.

5. Don’t play loud music, tone down noise in the cemetery and help make the place conducive for prayers and for family bonding, too.

6. Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water. Please watch “The Story of Bottled Water” to find out why: http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/

7. Go for waste-free meals. YES to reusable carriers, containers and utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and silverwares. NO to throw-away bags, wraps, foil or Styrofoam, paper napkins, and forks and spoons. Also, refrain from patronizing junkfood and go for simple yet nutritious home-prepared “baon.”

8. Buy less or only as much as you know you will consume for items such as food and beverage. Bring “bayong” or other reusable bags to carry your stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers from vendors.

9. Cut your waste size by not creating trash in the first place such as by purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and avoiding single-use plastic disposables.

10. Take full responsibility for your discards. Put them into the recycling bins and never litter. Better still, bring your own discards bags and bring them home for sorting, reusing, recycling or composting. Remember to leave the resting places of your loved ones litter-free.

Buklod Tao, a member group of the EcoWaste Coalition, has kindly offered to receive used Undas flowers and leaves for shredding in their facility. They will also accept discarded fruit juice doi packs that community members will recycle into bags and other functional items. Buklod Tao is located at 7 Dama de Noche, Barangay Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal.

-end-

09 October 2010

Climate Defenders Flaunt the Handy “Bayong” to Fight Global Warming as Local Market Sets “No Plastic Bag Day”





On the eve of the “Global Work Party” dubbed as 10/10/10, climate defenders trooped to a public market in Caloocan City to show off what could be the finest weapon that Filipinos can unleash to combat global warming: the “bayong.”

As part of the global day of action on climate solutions, members of the Ecology Ministry of the Diocese of Caloocan, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives gathered at Langaray Public Market in this city to rally citizens to rediscover the use of the unpretentious “bayong.”

“Bayong,” the lowly hand-woven native bag made of buri palm leaves or other locally available plant materials, is the “ecological weapon of choice” that Filipino consumers from all walks of life should make the best use of, the groups said.

“We can break our obsession with plastic bags by switching to the ever versatile ‘bayong’ that our elders were accustomed to before our society fell in love with anything convenient and disposable to the detriment of our fragile environment,” said civic leader Romy Hidalgo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Let the bayong be our ecological weapon of choice as citizens, while we ask our political leaders to initiate even bolder measures, globally and locally, to fight climate change,” he added.

“I commend the Langaray market vendors for heeding the call for ecological stewardship by encouraging consumers to drop the ubiquitous plastic bags,” stated Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr.

Bishop Iñiguez was referring to the move by the Samahang Pagkakaisa ng mga Tindera sa Talipapa (SPTT) to observe every Monday beginning October 11 as “No Plastic Bag Day” to cut unrestrained consumption and disposal of plastic bags.

"Ang palengke ang isa sa malaking pinagmumulan ng mga basurang plastik. Nais naming makatulong sa pagbabawas sa basura at sa polusyon na nagpapainit sa ating daigdig," said Rowell Gan, President of SPTT.

“Let us take pride in using the ‘bayong’ in the ‘palengke’ and even in shopping malls knowing that we are saving the planet, ourselves and the future generations by cutting our craving for plastic bags and the ensuing emissions,” appealed Bishop Iñiguez.

According to the groups, switching from plastic bags (which are petroleum-based products) to “bayong” will help in attaining the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which scientists set at 350 parts per million (the current level is 390 ppm).

Citing information from the Worldwatch Institute, the groups said that in the U.S. alone, an estimated 12,000,000 barrels of non-renewable petroleum oil are required to produce the 100 billion bags consumed annually.

Worldwide, some 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags are consumed annually or over one million bags per minute with millions ending up as litter.

In the Philippines, government data indicate that plastic comprises 15 percent of Metro Manila’s solid waste, with food and kitchen waste accounting for about 45 percent, paper 16 percent, glass and wood 9 percent and other discards 15 percent.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, some 756,986 kilos of garbage were collected during the coastal cleanup operations in 2009 with plastic bags constituting 300,176 kilos or almost half of the retrieved garbage from shorelines and waterways.

"Indeed, we can help in reversing the statistics and in stabilizing the earth’s climate by shifting to eco-friendly lifestyle starting by saying no to plastic bags and shifting to the ‘bayong’,” the groups said.

-end-

1. For more information about the “Global Work Party” and the 10/10/10 campaign, please log on to: http://www.350.org/

2. The Samahang Pagkakaisa ng mga Tindera sa Talipapa (SPTT), led by President Rowell Gan. adopted Resolution # 10-0710, which provides for 1) plastic bag use reduction to address garbage and climate pollution, 2) the use of “bayong,” “fish net bags” and other reusable containers in lieu of plastic bags, 3) the observance of “No Plastic Bag Day” every Monday, 4) the conduct of continuing climate change education among vendors and buyers, and 5) the adoption of a policy towards the ecological management of market waste. Additionally, the said resolution requires buyers who prefer to use plastic bags for goods purchased during the “No Plastic Bag Day” to be duly charged, while those who will bring their own bayong or other containers will be given discounts.

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

05 October 2010

Groups Ask: What is keeping the government from shipping out endosulfan?

Quezon City. This is a mind-boggling question for environmental health groups that have been monitoring the fate of some 10 metric tons of endosulfan, a highly toxic pesticide, that were salvaged from the submerged MV Princess of the Stars on October 5, 2008.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN-Philippines), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the EcoWaste Coalition expressed alarm over the long-drawn-out process of removing the toxic materials out of the country.

“Two years have already passed since the Del Monte-owned pesticide consignments were recovered from the sunken ship through a costly retrieval operations and we still see no light at the end of the tunnel,” observed Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We ask the authorities, particularly the lead agencies comprising the Task Force MV Princess of the Stars, to explain to the public the real score. What is really holding up the shipment of endosulfan, which is higly toxic for humans and wildlife, for environmentally-sound destruction abroad?” he added.

The groups point to Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Anneli Lontoc and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) Director Norlito Gicana as the principal government officials in charge of implementing the decision of the Task Force to ship out the endosulfan for disposal.

The toxic materials have been sitting for months in a private warehouse in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

“Time is running out for endosulfan as governments, including the Philippines, take preventive and precautionary steps to ban this pesticide because of its toxicity and threats to human health and the environment,” said Dr. Romy Quijano, President, PAN-Philippines.

Sixty-nine countries have already taken action to ban endosulfan in the build up to the October 2010 meeting of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee.

“With the looming global ban under the Stockholm Convention, it makes sense for the Aquino government to conduct an immediate inventory of endosulfan stocks in the country and to ensure that these are stored in safe conditions and not arbitrarily disposed in unauthorized hazardous waste treatment plants and in cement kilns,” added Manny Calonzo, GAIA Co-Coordinator.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a temporary ban in February 2009 on the importation, distribution, and use of endosulfan “to protect the public and the environment from any undesirable risk hazards on its continued use."

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada in August 2010 withdrew support for the use of endosulfan, citing the concern for workers’ safety, the risk posed to non-target organisms and persistence of endosulfan in the environment and the potential for bioaccumulation.

The US Environmental Protection Agency in June 2010 decided to end all uses of endosulfan after assessing that endosulfan “can pose unacceptable neurological and reproductive risks to farmworkers and wildlife and can persist in the environment."

03 October 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Proposes "Safe Cosmetics Summit" as RP Marks the Consumer Welfare Month


Quezon City. A citizens’ group promoting chemical safety has called upon the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry to convene a “Safe Cosmetics Summit” to halt the marketing of personal care products containing toxic chemicals such as mercury.

The EcoWaste Coalition raised the idea as the country marks the annual Consumer Welfare Month this October.

“It appears to us that a Summit involving all the stakeholders is essential to facilitate a broad consensus on specific policies and measures that should be pursued to promote and guarantee consumer health and safety from harmful chemicals in some personal care products,” said Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We find it totally alarming that dozens of skin whitening products have been recalled this year for containing elevated levels of mercury, a highly toxic metal,” she added.

Citing information culled from the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the EcoWaste Coalition said that a total of 28 skin lightening products were recalled from January to September 2010 due to their high mercury contents.

In a TV interview last September 10, 2010, FDA director Nazarita Tacandong reported that two of the recently recalled skin whitening products tested with 1,000 and 3,000 parts per million (ppm) of mercury, which are outrageously way beyond the agency’s “allowable threshold” of 1 ppm. Please click to see the interview:

http://www.gmanews.tv/video/66129/24oras-5-products-banned-due-to-high-mercury-content

Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats) expressed confidence that the “Safe Cosmetics Summit” will earn the support of the government and other sectors.

“The proposed ‘Safe Cosmetics Summit’ will provide a unique venue to identify key issues and concerns, including gaps in prevailing regulations and their implementation,” she said.

“We are hopeful that all stakeholders will agree that toxic-free cosmetics are good for the customers, businesses and the environment, too,” she said.

The EcoWaste Coalition hopes to generate support for the following action steps towards safe cosmetics:

1. Get toxic chemicals out of personal care products, especially substances that are classified as known or probable human carcinogen, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors or mutagens.

2. Revise FDA’s mercury limit in cosmetics from 1 ppm to 0 ppm.

3. Ensure the protection of workers, consumers and other susceptible groups from toxic chemical exposure in cosmetics through the use of safe alternatives.

4. Require manufacturers to disclose all chemical ingredients of their products in accordance with the consumer “right to know.”

5. Rectify poor compliance to labelling requirements as required by law.

6. Set health-based safety standards on chemicals in line with the precautionary principle such as those found in the European Union Cosmetics Directive.

7. Prohibit cosmetic testing on animals.

8. Strengthen the role of FDA as the main regulatory agency for cosmetics with increased budgetary allocations.

9. Improve market monitoring and surveillance of personal care products being sold in the market.

10. Create mechanism for expanded civil society participation in promoting safe cosmetics in the market.

Holding the proposed “Safe Cosmetics Summit” during the Consumer Welfare Month , as declared by then President Fidel Ramos through Presidential Proclamation No. 1098, will be a great way of putting a spotlight on the need to protect the basic rights of consumers, the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

These basic consumer rights as promoted by Consumers International, a fifty-year old organization supporting and representing consumers worldwide, include:

1. The right to satisfaction of basic needs - To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.

2. The right to safety - To be protected against products, production processes and services which are hazardous to health or life.

3. The right to be informed - To be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.

4. The right to choose - To be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.

5. The right to be heard - To have consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.

6. The right to redress - To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.

7. The right to consumer education - To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.

8. The right to a healthy environment -To live and work in an environment which is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.

-end-

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., 1101 Quezon City
Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com