Litter-Free, Smoke-Free Lenten Alay-Lakad Urged (Faithful Urged to Heed Pope Francis: "Counter the Culture of Waste and Disposable")

A waste and pollution watchdog group has requested Catholic devotees joining the Alay-Lakad to Antipolo City on Maundy Thursday to make the penitential walk free of trash and cigarette smoke.

At the same time, the group reminded the devotees to pay attention to the advice made by Pope Francis for the Catholic faithful to “counter the culture of waste and disposable.”

“We appeal to the pilgrims, particularly the youth, to treat the streets leading to Antipolo with due respect and shun littering that has literally turned past Alay-Lakad into Alay-Kalat, creating mounds of trash along the way,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We fear that litterbugs will again rear their ugly heads and defile the sacrificial walk that hordes of people do in memory of Christ the Redeemer to affirm their faith, seek atonement and ask forgiveness for past wrongs,” she said.

“Even the hallowed ground of the Antipolo Cathedral is not spared as  improvised sleeping materials such as newspapers are left scattered by some devotees,” she lamented.

Among the discards often left abandoned in streets and sidewalks are food and beverage materials such as disposable plastic bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws and snack wrappers, as well as bamboo skewers, food leftovers, soiled papers and cigarette filters.

“We also often see pilgrims puffing on cigarettes as they perform their act of penance and then throwing the butts anywhere, unmindful of the hazards of tobacco smoke and the toxins in the butt waste,” she added.

“We hope that smokers will refrain from smoking during the Alay-Lakad for their own health and the health of people around them.  Please give up smoking even only for a day.  Of course, the better choice would be to quit smoking altogether,” she suggested.

“Ensuring that this year’s Alay-Lakad will be litter-free and smoke-free will be consistent with the Pope’s plea for environmental responsibility, and we hope that everyone will heed his wise counsel,” she said.

Last year, during the World Environment Day, the Pope said “
I would like us all to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter.”

The Pope further emphasized the need to “cultivate and care” for the environment, saying it is part of God’s plan that man “nurture[s] the world with responsibility,” transforming it into a “garden, a habitable place for everyone.”