30 October 2014

Cemeteries Commended for Adopting Pro-Environment Measures to Protect Trees, Lessen Garbage(Manila Memorial Park Lauded for Disallowing the Nailing of Tarps on Trees, Manila North and South Cemeteries Cited for Doing Away with Wasteful Plastic Buntings)

 Manila Memorial Park
 Manila South Cemetery

Manila North Cemetery
As the Filipino nation prepares to honor the dead, an environmental watchdog cited three major cemeteries in Metro Manila for adopting eco-measures to protect the trees, as well as reduce trash.

The EcoWaste Coalition lauded the Manila Memorial Park (MMP) in Parañaque City for prohibiting the nailing of commercial and public service announcements on trees, an environmental offense that drew the ire of the group last Undas.

The group likewise cited the Manila North and South Cemeteries for doing away with the yearly rite of hanging banderitas made of new single-use plastic bags at the park entrance, a wasteful practice that also spoils the green scenery.

Last year, the group gave the MMP a “Pako Award” to protest the widespread nailing of tarp advertisements from popular beverage and fastfood brands on helpless trees.  

Manila Memorial Park Manager Lamberto Peña told the EcoWaste Coalition yesterday that they have duly notified the concessionaires about the no-nailing policy, saying that “nailing hurts the trees” and stressing that “we need to care for and preserve Mother Nature.”

“Green kudos to the MMP for enforcing such a vital eco-measure that will protect trees from getting damaged and injured,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Running priest Farther Robert Reyes, who chairs the Save the Trees National Coalition, also welcomed MMP’s no-nailing on trees policy.

“They pierced His hands and feet with nails jeering and laughing as they did.  Whenever we hurt people, we crucify Him once more.  Whenever we drive a nail into trees, don’t we show the same lovelessness and insensitivity as those who crucified and killed Jesus.  Mabuhay ang Manila Memorial Park,” said Father Reyes in a text message sent through the EcoWaste Coalition.

Reacting to the non-use of banderitas, Lucero noted that “Mr. Daniel Tan and Mr. Rafael  Mendez, administrators of the Manila North and South Cemeteries, made the right decision to keep the sky clear of distractive and wasteful buntings.”

“The plastic buntings hide and spoil the splendid green scenery.  Now, cemetery visitors will walk through a lush canopy of trees unblemished by synthetic decors that only add to post-Undas garbage,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed hope that all cemeteries will replicate the eco-measures adopted by the MMP and the Manila North and South Cemeteries, and exert efforts to rectify practices that harm and pollute the surroundings.

The group last Tuesday organized an event, in collaboration with the Manila North Cemetery Administration and the Miss Earth Foundation, to encourage the general public to observe the Undas in an eco-friendly manner that is respectful to the dead, as well as to the environment. 


28 October 2014

Signages Promoting Waste-Free Undas Installed at Manila North Cemetery

The EcoWaste Coalition, in collaboration with the Manila North Cemetery Administration, put up eco-reminders encouraging cemetery visitors to prevent and reduce garbage and pollution as a sign of respect for the dead as the nation marks All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day on November 1 and 2.

Zero waste advocates do the Zumba to urge cemetery goers to shun “Zombasura”, observe “Cemetiquette”

A few days before the commemoration of the time-honored Filipino “Undas” tradition, green groups today implore the public to show genuine respect for our departed loved ones by trashing wasteful and toxic habits.

Through a Zumba-inspired event cast by “Zombasura” and colorful actors/dancers in pig masks held at the Manila North Cemetery, EcoWaste Coalition, together with Miss Earth Beauties Jamie Herrell (Miss Philippines Earth 2014), Diane Querrer (Miss Philippines Earth Air), Maria Bencelle Bianzon (Miss Philippines Earth Runner-up); MALAYA-Cavite; representatives from the government of the City of Manila; Manila North Cemetery Administration; Tzu Chi Foundation, and other civil society groups from Malabon, danced to reverberate the call for a zero waste and toxics-free “Undas”.

“As part of our yearly campaign for waste- and pollution-free Undas celebrations, we took on the Zumba craze to remind our fellow cemetery goers to keep in mind the “Cemetiquette” or cemetery etiquette and do away with “Zombasura” habits as a way of showing deep and genuine respect for our departed kindred and friends. We ask the public to please don't turn the cemetery into a pigsty,” expressed Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Program Officer of EcoWaste Coalition.

To highlight the appeal to observe the “Cemetiquette” and trash “Zombasura” habits, dancers in pig masks do the Zumba, at the background were placards and a banner with such calls as “Sementeryo ay Irespeto; Huwag kang Baboy!” (Respect the cemetery; Don’t be like pigs) and “Zombasura Huwag Tularan!” (Don’t be like Zombasura).

According to the group, the “Cemetiquette” aims to “promote environmental responsibility and commonsensical good manners in the cemeteries and draw attention to practices that show disrespect for the dead, as well as for the living.”

“Zombasura”, the “basura” or garbage monster, on the other hand is a creative depiction of “pig-like” attitude and practices of “wallowing in filth and mud”, the group’s figurative way of saying wasteful and toxic attitude and practices.

For her part, Miss Philippines Earth 2014, Jamie Herrell, stressed that “garbage and anything that can make our surroundings ugly should have no place in the Undas celebration. We join the EcoWaste Coalition in imploring the public to keep cemeteries clean and safe as we remember our departed dear ones.”

In the “Cemetiquette”, the group listed down ten practical and sensible recommendations that the public can and should adopt as we celebrate a long-revered tradition that is “Undas”:

1. Choose lead-free candles that do not yield black fumes or soot. Set alight a limited number of candles to reduce heat and pollution. Be cautious so as not to let candle fire touch plastic receptacles or holders.

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

3. Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water. Discarded plastic bottles add up to the country’s garbage problem. Plastic 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/

4. 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, foils, Styrofoam packaging, paper napkins, and forks and spoons. Also, refrain from patronizing junk food and go for simple yet nutritious home-prepared baon.

5. For food and beverage, buy and bring only what you can consume to avoid spoilage or wastage. Bring bayong or other reusable bags to carry your stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers from vendors.

6. 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.

7. Don’t litter, dump or burn trash in the cemetery. Do not throw cigarette butts, candy wrappers, discarded packaging, fruit peels, and the likes on the ground. Remember to leave the resting place of your loved ones litter-free.

8. Put your discards into the recycling bins if available. Better still, bring your own discards bags and bring them home for sorting, reusing, recycling or composting.

9. Relieve yourself only in the proper place where one should. Keep the urinal or toilet bowl clean as a courtesy to the next user. Do not defecate or urinate in public places.

10. Refrain from smoking in the cemetery. Show consideration for the children, the elderly, pregnant women and others around you who may be saddled with respiratory and heart ailments.


27 October 2014

Horrific Lipsticks with Dreadful Lead on Sale in Quiapo, Manila

Some of the scariest consumer products that you may find, Halloween season or not, are ironically sold in beauty shops offering cosmetics with no official market authorization.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, aired this observation after purchasing lipsticks contaminated with lead, a powerful neurotoxin, sold for P28 to P35 each from Quiapo stores selling  beauty and personal care products.

Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group detected lead in five lipsticks in the range of  2,204 parts per million (ppm) to 2,487 ppm, way above the 20 ppm threshold limit for lead under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

“The ghastly lead content of these lipsticks should scare the hell out of all of us,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Women wearing such lipstick may ingest toxic lead over the course of the day.  This will contribute to the build up of lead in the body over time.  As scientists have not established a safe level for lead exposure, it’s essential that all unwarranted exposures are avoided,” she warned.

The current science has determined no safe level for lead exposure with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that “no safe blood lead level has been identified.”

The five lipsticks found laden with lead as per XRF screening, include:

1.  A Baolishi no. 20, 2-in-1 lipstick in old rose canister with 2,419 ppm lead

2.  A Baolishi no. 20, 2-in-1 lipstick in golden canister with 2,394 ppm lead

3.  A Baolishi no. 20 lipstick in yellow canister with 2,361 ppm lead

4.  A Monaliza no. 20 lipstick in green canister with 2,298 ppm lead

5.  A Monaliza no. 20 lipstick in black canister with 2,274 ppm lead

Lucero noted that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) of the Philippines had twice issued public health warnings in 2013 and 2014 against unregistered lipsticks laced with lead, including five Monaliza lipsticks and 13 Baolishi lipsticks.

She also noted that Bulgarian, Croatian and Czech health authorities have banned the marketing of certain Baolishi lipsticks due to excessive amounts of cadmium and lead.

Lead, a toxic chemical that has no vital use for the human body, may come from the lipstick ingredients that are contaminated with lead, or from the lipstick pigments that contain lead, she pointed out.

According to the US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “pregnant women are especially vulnerable because lead crosses the placenta and may enter the fetal brain, and has also been linked to miscarriage, and pre-adolescents are also at risk as lead has been linked to a delay in the onset of puberty in girls, and the development of testes in boys.”

“Kids typically apply cosmetics such as face paint and lipstick as part of their Halloween costumes.  It’s crucial that such products are duly registered with the FDA and proven safe from lead and other bacterial or chemical contaminants that can badly affect children’s health ,” Lucero insisted.

As per advice by the FDA, consumers can go to the agency’s website (www.fda.gov.ph) to check if a cosmetic product is duly authorized to be offered for sale in the market. 

Consumers should carefully read the product labels, which should have the following required information by the FDA written in English: a) product name, b) ingredients, c) net content, d) instruction on the use of the products, e) batch number, f) special precautions if any, and g) country of manufacture/importer.



www.rapex.eu (search for Baolishi)

26 October 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers from Buying Halloween Items that may be Horrifically Toxic

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, advises consumers to demand information on chemicals in products as toy stores load the shelves with spooky merchandises for the Halloween celebration.

“It’s good to exercise precaution when buying such items as toy makers and sellers cash in on the growing popularity of Halloween in some sections of the society, particularly among urban children,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“It’s totally okay to be extra choosy and nosy if this will protect your child from being exposed to substances that may put her or his health at risk,” he said.

As part of the group’s ongoing campaign for “Kid Safe Toys for Zero Harm and Zero Waste,” the group obtained various Halloween products worth P35 to P259.50 each from 9 stores in Baclaran, Divisoria and
Ermita, Manila, as well as in Caloocan and Quezon Cities.

The group screened the items for toxic substances with the help of a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

Among the items screened were creepers, headbands, masks, shockers, thrillers, weapons, as well as decors and goody baskets.

Out of 50 samples, 21 were found to contain toxic metals such as lead above levels of concern.  For instance, toxic lead up to 43,100 parts per million (ppm) was detected in 12 of the samples.

Lead is a universally recognized poison that has no known safe level in children’s blood.  Childhood lead exposure is associated with reduced IQ, slowed body growth, attention or behavior problems and
failure at school, among other issues.

The top five items that showed the highest levels of total lead content include:

1.  A ceramic pumpkin candle holder with 43,100 ppm of lead.
2.  A trick or treat bag and handle with 10,400 ppm of lead
3.  A black widow giant spider with 1,641 ppm of lead
4.  A garland with pumpkin design with 1,095 ppm of lead
5.  A halloween party mask with 495 ppm of lead

“We find that for every item that has excessive lead on it there will be a comparable item that has low or non-detectable lead content. This only means that children’s products can be made without added
lead.  In fact, we detected no lead in 29 of the 50 samples,” Dizon stated.

“Unfortunately, most of the products on sale are poorly labeled and often has zero information about their chemical ingredients, thus making it hard for consumers to make informed non-toxic choices,” he

Aside from heavy metals, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to be on the alert for children’s products that may be laden with phthalate, a toxic additive to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.

"Countries in Europe have withdrawn from the market Halloween costumes, masks and fake teeth that pose chemical risk for containing banned phthalates,” Dizon said.

As a precaution against exposure to phthalates, which can interfere with the body’s endocrine system, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to shun toys made of PVC materials, especially those that
can be ingested, mouthed or sucked.



www.rapex.eu (search for phthalates in Halloween products)

24 October 2014

Quezon City Pre-Schoolers and Parents Push for Lead Paint Elimination for Healthy Bodies and Environment

To mark the continuing celebration of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA) and in commemoration of the United Nations Day today, over one hundred school kids dressed in vibrant national costumes of UN member states paraded with their parents and teachers at Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City, to raise public consciousness about lead hazard and gather support for the elimination of lead paints in the market.

The activity, a component of the European Union-assisted Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project, is jointly organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and ROTCHNA Day Care Center and has “Kids and Communities for a Lead Safe Future” for its theme, reflecting the shared aspiration of the participants to protect every child from being exposed to lead, a toxic brain-damaging chemical.

"We are assembled here today to reach out to the community folk and spur caring action to deter childhood lead exposure at home and in school. It is important for parents and teachers to know what causes lead poisoning and how it can be avoided, so that they can proactively defend the kids against varied sources of lead exposure such as through the ingestion and inhalation of lead-contaminated paint chips and dust,” explained Jeiel Guarino, Communications and Policy Officer of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Lead Paint Elimination Project.

After the parade, the group gathered in front of the school to learn more about lead poisoning through instructive and exciting games, followed by the turn-over of the newly-painted ROTCHNA Day Care Center, a collaborative project of the EcoWaste Coalition with the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM).

"The paint remediation done on the school’s exteriors, interiors, chairs, tables and cabinets is our voluntary response to the Quezon City government’s drive to make residents cautious about the health effects of exposure to lead, especially among our young children who are vulnerable to such chemical hazard,” said Evelyn Galang, Head Teacher, ROTCHNA Day Care Center.

The Quezon City Council last August 11 adopted a resolution calling for the observance of the annual “Lead Poisoning Prevention Week” to “raise awareness on lead poisoning prevention, particularly from avoidable sources of lead pollution such as lead paints.”

Through the resolution sponsored by Councilor Dorothy Delarmente, the councilors further “recognized the reduction of childhood lead exposure as a fundamental goal in public health.”

“We thank the EcoWaste Coalition for screening our facility for lead paint hazard and the PAPM for providing the labor and lead safe materials for the repainting work. Hopefully, our experience will encourage the local government to recognize possible lead hazards in other school environments and act with urgency to prevent kids from continually being exposed from the dangers of lead,” added Galang.

Last April, the EcoWaste Coalition observed chipping paints on the interior walls of the day care center, which yielded positive for lead upon screening with an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) device. This prompted the group to partner with PAPM for basic lead paint remediation for the day care facility.

To further ensure children’s safety from hazardous lead paint chips and dust, the EcoWaste Coalition advised the school to keep all coatings in excellent shape, frequently wipe off dust, regularly wet mop the floors, and ensure that kids always wash their hands after play and before meals.

In addition, the EcoWaste Coalition shares the following recommendations for parents to minimize childhood exposure from household dust:

- Keep the areas where your children play as dust-free and clean as possible.
- Wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor, and keep extra ones handy.
- Clean floors, window frames, window sills and other surfaces weekly using wet mops, sponges or paper towels and a general all-purpose cleaner.
- Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas.
- Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly.
- Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint, such as painted window sills or cribs.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead poisoning is a serious child health concern throughout the world. Children are most likely to be exposed to lead from ingestion of flakes and dust from decaying lead-based paint. This affects children's brain development and their measurable level of intelligence (IQ).”

Furthermore, the WHO’s report on “Childhood Lead Poisoning” states that “these effects are untreatable and irreversible because the human brain has little capacity for repair, causing diminution in brain function and reduction in achievement that last throughout life.”

Organized worldwide by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, a joint undertaking by the WHO and the United Nations Environmental Programme, the ILPPWA also seeks concrete action and policy support from both national and local governments in the country to minimize, if not eliminate childhood lead exposure.

The EcoWaste Coalition-led campaign is part of a seven-country EU-supported Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project by IPEN, a global civil society network promoting safe chemical policies and practices to protect human health and the environment.