07 November 2011

Environmental Watchdog Calls for "Climate-OK Christmas"

A presidential plea for climate awareness and action has drawn a quick response from a waste and pollution watchdog.

President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Memorandum Circular 25 last Friday urging the government and the citizenry to support the commemoration of “Climate Change Consciousness Week” from November 19-25.

“In support of P-Noy’s climate call, we invite the public to observe Christmas, the nation’s longest, grandest and lamentably most wasteful feast, in a way that will not add to rising garbage and climate woes,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“To help the public in reducing the environmental effects of the festive occasion, we have come up with a ‘Climate-OK Christmas Guide’ for everyone to keep in mind,” he said.

The “Climate-OK Christmas Guide” lists 20 ideas that individuals, households, schools, churches, government agencies, workplaces and shopping malls can easily put into action to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other toxic releases from wasteful activities.

“Consider it a pilot list,” Alvarez noted. “We urge our fellow Filipinos to think of more eco-friendly ideas if only to give Mother Earth a little break from the massive consumption spree,” Alvarez emphasized.

The extended Christmas extravaganza eats up enormous amounts of raw materials and fossil fuels and produces huge quantities of waste that end up being dumped or burned, generating pollutants that trap heat in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and fluorinated gases, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The flurry of Christmas parties, shopping and gift-giving during the joyful season yields tons of discarded plastic bags, packaging materials, disposable party supplies, kitchen scraps and food leftovers, the group observed.

Failing to proactively prevent and reduce Christmas discards will lead to increased “holitrash” (holiday trash) as can be seen from the overflowing bins and dumpsters and stinking garbage dumped at street corners, the group noted.

“By using the ‘Climate-OK Christmas Guide,’ we conserve valuable resources, prevent the generation of wastes and toxins and avoid inappropriate disposal activities that can kill the Christmas spirit,” Alvarez said.

For example, make it a point to reuse decorations from earlier celebrations. Use recycled materials for Christmas cribs, trees, wreaths and garlands.

Choose safe, energy-efficient and enduring Christmas lights, be sure to check the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) and use them sparingly to conserve electricity.

Christmas parties should use reusable party supplies that can be washed and used again. Refrain from using disposable, throw-away plates, cups and utensils. And, most importantly, ecologically manage party discards to make reusing, recycling and composting easy.

Avoid overspending during the holidays by shopping ecologically and wisely. Be a proud reusable carry bag or “bayong” shopper!

For the traditional gift-giving, consider non-material presents, locally-produced gifts, and eco-friendly products and services that support sustainable lifestyle.

Here’s the full list of the “Climate-OK Christmas Guide”:

A. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

1. Reuse decorations from past celebrations.

2. Make garlands made from recycled materials such as old cards, gift wraps and ribbons.

3. Recreate the Belen (Nativity scene) using recycled materials.

4. Create a Christmas tree using potted plants or trees, twigs or broomsticks.

5. If buying new items, look for those that are locally made, non-toxic, reusable and require no electricity.

B. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

1. Choose safe, energy efficient and long lasting Christmas lights with genuine Import Commodity Clearance (ICC).

2. Use your Christmas lights sparingly, light them up only as Christmas nears and only when needed. Turn them off during daylight hours and turn them off whenever you are away or asleep.

3. Refrain from over-the-top use of Christmas lights: conserve electricity.

C. CHRISTMAS PARTIES

1. Go for austere Christmas get-togethers. Money saved from lavish parties can be shared to families and communities in need.

2. Say no to disposable party supplies such as plastic plates, cups and cutlery. Go for items that can be cleaned and reused.

3. Adopt a no left-over policy to prevent wasting food.

4. Implement a system for ecological party waste management to make reusing, recycling and composting easy. Consider sharing clean food leftovers with the poor.

D. CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

1. Organize Christmas shopping wisely to avoid impulsive purchases and overspending and also to cut fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Walk, cycle or take the jeepney, bus or train whenever possible.

2. Break the plastic bags habit. Bring with you a reusable carry bag, basket or bayong when you shop.

3. Avoid items wrapped in excessive packaging and go for healthy and eco-friendly products.

E. CHRISTMAS GIFTS

1. Give non-material presents such as giving your loved ones the more precious gift of time and company.

2. Give unused gifts, old clothes and books to charity.

3. Give locally-produced products or delicacies from your province such as fruits, vegetables, plants, sweets, condiments, decorative and functional crafts, etc.

4. Give eco-friendly products that support sustainable lifestyle (for example, reusable non-polycarbonate water jug, solar-powered flashlight, non-toxic personal and household care products, organic and GMO-free foodstuff, etc.).

5. Choose gifts that do not need to be wrapped such as potted plants, massage from blind masseurs, gift checks, concert or game passes, raffle tickets etc. If wrapping is needed, use old magazines or comics page of newspapers, old bandannas, etc.

-end-

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