Waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition urges cemeteries to reduce their waste generation during the commemoration of Undas.
“The observance of Undas is a uniquely-Filipino time-honored tradition that aims to commemorate and show respect for our departed loved ones. No other than keeping clean and free of wastes the places where their remains lay will concretely reflect such regard for our dead,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Program Officer of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Each year, observed the EcoWaste Coalition, despite their regular advisories for waste-free Undas celebrations, cemeteries become major generators of garbage during All Souls Day and All Saints Day.
“We call on cemetery administrators and concerned authorities to be vigilant against littering, indiscriminate disposal of garbage, burning of trash, and other wasteful and pollutive acts in cemeteries,” Vergara added.
The Coalition asks cemetery authorities to strictly enforce prohibitions against littering and other forms of non-ecofriendly practices, such as open burning and dumping, especially since these are explicitly prohibited under Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
The Coalition listed the following specific measures that cemeteries can adopt to keep the abode of the departed ones clean and garbage-free:
- Put up signs with specific actions that visitors should take to keep the cemetery clean and waste-free
- Assign materials recovery stations, which are areas for purposes of storing large volumes of segregated discards until they are sold or brought to recyclers
- Put up segregation bins in strategic areas for proper segregation of cemetery-goers’ discards
- Engage the services of waste pickers or informal recyclers to man the materials recovery stations and segregation bin areas, and help in the ecological management of discards
- As much as possible, prohibit single-use plastic disposables, such as bags, cups, straws, and the like, inside the cemetery premises or require cemetery-goers to take disposables and non-recyclable items back to their homes.
- Require vendors to serve food and beverages in reusable mugs and plates, and to have their own segregation bins.
- Penalize violators.
“Personnel should be deployed before, during, and after Undas (October 31, November 1 and 2) to take on the responsibilities in the upkeep, sanitation, and clean-up of cemeteries,” the Coalition noted.
“This yearly event of paying respect to our departed loved ones is oftentimes marred by wastes generated by the tons. This year’s Undas should see genuine celebration of respect and due regard for our departed ones by keeping the abode of their remains free of waste and pollution,” Vergara stressed.
The group also called on cemetery administrators to stop the unchecked practice of nailing commercial advertisements as well as public service announcements on trees, which do not only uglify the surroundings but also damage or wound the trees.