31 March 2015

Antipolo City Government, EcoWaste Coalition Jointly Appeal for Litter-Free "Alay-Lakad"

The Antipolo City Government and the EcoWaste Coalition today exhorted Filipinos joining the penitential “Alay-Lakad” this Maundy Thursday to make their pilgrimage litter-free.

In a joint appeal, Antipolo City Mayor Casimiro Ynares III and environmentalist Sonia Mendoza, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, encouraged the pilgrims to mind their trash as they perform their long walk to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.

“As we welcome visitors from near or far during the Holy Week, we earnestly ask for public cooperation in keeping the surroundings clean and tidy,” pleaded Ynares.

“While we plan to deploy as many street sweepers as we could, they will be no match to the millions of pilgrims who will trek to the Antipolo Cathedral on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday,” he explained.

“In fact, each and every pilgrim should mind their trash and not simply throw them on the streets even if our street sweepers will be working round-the-clock,” he pointed out.

For her part, Mendoza stated that “the penitential walk is no excuse for the faithful to spoil the surroundings with litter.”

“There is no acceptable reason to defile the environment no matter how tired you are after walking a considerable distance, especially for an act that is rooted to one’s spiritual belief,” she said.

“Please fulfil your vows in a respectful manner that will not pollute the environment.  As the saying goes: cleanliness is next to godliness,” she added

Both Ynares and Mendoza expressed hope that their joint appeal will not fall on deaf ears and that this year’s “Alay-Lakad” will not be blighted with trash.

Ynares and Mendoza likewise reminded visitors to bring reusable bags for the pasalubong that are aplenty in Antipolo City to reduce plastic waste.

Based on the monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition for the past few years, cigarette filters, food packaging materials, plastic bags, bottles, cups and straws, and soiled papers are among the most littered items found along the “Alay-Lakad” routes.

Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, strictly prohibits and penalizes littering, an environmental offense that is also banned under Antipolo City Ordinance 2008-287, otherwise known as the “Basura Code.”


30 March 2015

Green Groups Stage Street Lenten Play in Quiapo to Dramatize Plastic Pollution (Groups Demand Zero Tolerance for Plastic Pollution)

In observance of Lent, zero waste advocates gathered in front of the Quiapo Church to draw attention to the daily “crucifixion” of Mother Earth amid the increasingly worsening throw-away, plastic culture.

In this season of reflection, atonement and cleansing, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura and the Gulayan People's Neighborhood Association, brought to light the far-reaching impacts of the so-called plasticization of the society through a mini-Senakulo involving a cast of 50 people.

With “Plastik: Pasakit kay Inang Daigdig” as its theme, the street play showed how the people’s  uncontrolled consumption and disposal of plastics is steadily dirtying and destroying the environment.

At the center of the street play was a suffering woman personifying Mother Earth carrying a wire mesh shaped into a cross and filled with plastic trash.

At one point of the play, performers waved pieces of light blue cloth strewn with assorted garbage to create an image of an ocean sullied by plastic as Mother Earth watched with deep sadness and despair.

“This is a factual representation of how our Mother Earth is bearing the brunt of our wasteful consumption of plastic bags and other expendable packaging,” Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, pointed out.

“The thoughtless use of plastic disposables from carry bags to water bottles and their reckless disposal in the streets, waterways, waste burners and dumps pose a heavy burden for Mother Earth akin to carrying a cross,” she said.

“Despite the super typhoons, devastating floods and perennial garbage woes we go through year in and year out, many of us have yet to recognize and understand these obvious signs of the times, consuming and disposing of plastic irresponsibly as if Mother Earth does not suffer and weep,” she lamented.

“It’s high time that we adopt and uphold zero tolerance for plastic pollution,” she emphasized.

Citing a study on plastic by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, a partner of the EcoWaste Coalition, Lucero noted that “plastic bags, commonly and carelessly disposed by consumers add to the increasing volume of waste dumped or burned in dumpsites and landfills, the killing of marine animals, and the clogging of drainage systems worsening already catastrophic flooding situations.”

Lucero also noted that tiny particles called microplastics are formed when plastics disintegrate.  Toxic pollutants may stick to the microplastics, which are subsequently eaten by fish and other aquatic organisms, entering the marine food web and harming the whole ocean ecosystems.

5Gyres, a group promoting policy solutions to end the global health crisis of plastic pollution, has warned that such plastic particles circulate through oceans, acting as sponges for waterborne contaminants such as persistent organic pollutants.  A study by 5Gyres estimates 269,000 tons of plastic from 5.25 trillion particles in the world’s oceans.

In the Philippines, waste audits conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and other zero waste groups in 2006, 2010 and 2014 showed plastic discards as top pollutants in the heavily-contaminated Manila Bay.

In 2014, for example, plastic materials accounted for 62 percent of the 1,594 liters of collected flotsam, with plastic bags topping the list at 23 percent and followed by composites or plastic wrappers at 19 percent.

In this season of Lent, the EcoWaste Coalition called on everyone who cares for Mother Earth to work for a zero waste and toxics-free society, starting by:

- giving up addiction to plastics and going for reusable carry bags and containers;

- taking the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle and more) to heart and wasting no more;

- practicing ecological waste management at home, school, church and workplace;

- not dumping discards, big or small, from cigarette butts, candy wrappers to the ubiquitous plastic bags; and by

-not burning fallen leaves, litters and other wastes.




29 March 2015

Environmentalists to Hold Street Play on Holy Monday about Plastic Pollution

Green advocates will gather in front of Quiapo Church tomorrow, Holy Monday, for a mini-Senakulo (Passion Play) highlighting an environmental theme.

Organized by the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, the street drama will focus on the theme “Plastik: Pasakit kay Inang Daigdig” and feature performers from the Cavite-based Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura (Malaya) youth theater group.

The Lenten-inspired street play will dramatize the adverse impacts of the unchecked consumption and disposal of plastics to the environment.

To symbolize the plastic problem, which is turning into a global  environmental and health concern, youth artist Jane Bongon as Mother Earth will wear a crown of trash and carry a cross made of plastic discards.

“Plastic pollution is the modern-day cross that Mother Earth has to bear on a daily basis,” lamented Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Today, we find our streets, esteros, beaches, mangrove forests  and landfills awash in discarded plastics,” she pointed out.

“Plastics recklessly disposed of in streets, dumps and waterways eventually find their way to the seas damaging the ocean ecosystems and contaminating the marine life with hazardous chemicals and micro plastic particles,” she said.

Through this street play, the EcoWaste Coalition hopes to encourage critical reflection on what has become of the environment with the increasing “plasticization” of our way of life and ever-growing throw-away mentality.

“This Lenten activity would hopefully contribute to the much-needed ecological awareness, discernment and conversion among the faithful,” Lucero added.

Michael John Testa will direct the play written by Vhinz Saladino, founding chairperson of Malaya.

The street play is part of the ongoing campaign of the EcoWaste Coalition to prevent and reduce plastic garbage and pollution towards the envisioned Zero Waste society.

Last Friday, the group launched the report "Everything you (don't) want to know about plastics" published by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation with inputs from the EcoWaste Coalition and environmental groups from Bangladesh, India and South Africa.


27 March 2015

Newly launched Plastics Report, grim but offers hope

Quezon City. “Plastics leak toxic chemicals into the environment and cause severe waste problems all over the world.”

“These are the two major problems associated with plastics,” said Cecilia Hedfors of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) during the launch today in Quezon City of a collaborative global report titled “Everything you (don’t) want to know about plastics” which the SSNC prepared, together with the EcoWaste Coalition, ESDO, Groundwork, and Toxics Link.

The report reviewed plastics issues from a national and global perspective, describing their life cycle, from production through the usage, up until disposal as waste, and offered recommendations and hope.

Describing how problematic plastics issues are globally, Hedfors stressed that “It is difficult to determine what plastics to avoid, as well as how to reuse and recycle them, because the additives alone, which may leak from the material, number into the thousands, and list of contents are non-existent.”

Locally, Sonia Mendoza, President of the zero waste advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition, which contributed to the study the Philippine report on plastic bags, said that “even a quick glance at the national plastics situation will merit our continued call for a national plastic bag ban as our only recourse.”

“Among a host of reasons, all efforts to ban the use of plastic bags in the Philippines are intended to address the issue of the perennial garbage disposal that adversely affect the public health, the economy and the environment,” according to the EcoWaste Coalition in the Philippine report.

“Phasing-out plastic bags seeks to prevent and eliminate rather than just manage waste after it has been created. It conserves our natural resource and reduces the need for expensive recycling technologies and the cost of waste management,” the Coalition said in the study.

From a global viewpoint, the following recommendations were put forward by the study:
  • consumption of plastic must be reduced, particularly for disposable plastics. This can be stimulated by legislation,
  • waste disposal systems needs to be developed to shift from landfilling and incineration, towards reuse and recycling,
  • a reduction in the number of mixed materials in plastics would increase the volume of recyclable plastics. This can be stimulated by legislation,
  • regulation of hazardous phthalates, bisphenols and brominated flame retardants in consumer products, and especially of those exposed to children in their everyday life,
  • gradual phasing out of other dangerous additives and components in plastics, listed in the appendix 6 in the report,
  • introduction of mandatory contents lists on plastic products.
Locally, the Philippine Report had as its specific recommendations the following:
  • A national plastic bag ban that will phase-out all kinds of plastic bags;
  • Promote reusable bags and other alternative bags using natural fibers;
  • Promote and develop the market for recycled products, including reusable bags, to improve demands for alternative and eco-friendly products;
  • Espouse take-back/collection mechanisms and recycling;
  • Support LGUs in their waste management initiatives; and
  • Impose environmental levy on plastic bags to support environmental education initiatives and activities.
The report showed that the current use of plastics is not sustainable, but offered hope by saying, “there is great potential to improve the current situation.”

The launching of the plastics report included a workshop on plastics and chemical pollution, as well as demonstration activities on plastic recycling and reuse. It was participated in by more than 50 individuals representing different NGOs and government offices, and individual guests.


24 March 2015

EcoWaste Coalition shares ideas for green Lenten “sacrifices”

Quezon City. As the nation prepares for the commemoration of Jesus’ sacrifice, death, and resurrection to save humankind, environmental advocacy campaign network EcoWaste Coalition came up with a list of ideas for a green Holy Week.

The list came in a package called “green Lenten sacrifices” and were culled from thoughts shared by the secretariat and members of the Coalition.

“In view of the increasing environmental issues that we face today, we thought it would be good to share some of what our members do or think of doing as some form of sacrifice and/or “panata” (vow) to make the Holy Week green,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coaliton.

The list deals with such environmental issues as wasting, pollution, and climate change, as well as health.

The Coalition even challenged the public to perform their “green sacrifice” for the whole of the holy week or, even better, to turn them into “panata” for life.

To make the semana santa truly holy and green, the EcoWaste Coalition shared the following “green sacrifice” ideas which Christians will find helpful for a meaningful commemoration of the sufferings of the Creator Himself when He came as human to save the world:

· Go for meatless meals or, better still, go vegan. Aside from being healthy, vegan diet eases global warming and is good for the environment in general, as meat production requires lots of water, more land, fuel, and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

· Walk or bike to holy week destinations, such as when visiting churches during the Visita Iglesia. The visit to churches can be planned in such a way that walking or biking will become practicable. This will save fuel and minimize carbon foot prints, in addition to being good for health.

· Instead of going for an out-of-town family event, “sacrifice” a bit by putting it aside and consider giving the money saved to charitable institutions and events. This is a good way to do our share to ease energy use and minimize carbon emissions.

· Shun the use of plastic bags, plastic bottles, one-use cups and plates, and other single-use-disposable items by having eco-friendly ones, such as “bayong” and reusable water bottles, handy. This will help ease the increasing waste problems that we face.

· Do away with junk foods & beverages, fast foods, cigarettes, and other intakes that damage the health and the environment.

· Put aside electronic gadgets, such as cellphones, tablets, iPods, smartphones, lap tops, and the likes, and instead seize the occasion as an opportunity for meaningful bonding moments with loved ones and to commune with nature and God in prayer. This will also relieve us from too much exposure to radiation emitted by such gadgets, as well as save electricity.

· Turn off lights for longer hours than usual, avoid TV, use manual fan instead of an air conditioner or electric fan, conserve water, avoid food wastes, and do similar other resource and energy saving “sacrifices.”

· As many think it burdensome or a “sacrifice” to manage their discards, the holy week can be a good start to begin segregating, composting, recycling, and reusing items that are ready for disposal.

According to the Coalition, everyone can have his or her own idea added to the list. “Simply ask yourself the question, ‘What can I forego or vow to do for the sake of maintaining, or much better, improving, the integrity of creation?’”, the group explained.

“Make it a point that nothing is wasted and no one harmed,” the Coalition emphasized.

These “green Lenten sacrife” ideas were shared by the secretariat of the EcoWaste Coalition and its member organizations Arugaan, Bangon Kalikasan, Batangas 2 Fisherman Association, Buklod Tao, Concerned Resident Cysclists of Industrial Valley – Marikina, CYCAD, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Kupkop Kita Kabayan, Mother Earth Foundation, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc., and Sining Yapak.


EcoWaste Coalition Lauds Online Retailer for Removing Banned Toxic Products from Website

Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition lauded online retailer Lazada for its action to protect its customers from the fraudulent sale of banned consumer goods containing mercury and other
prohibited substances.

Lazada yesterday removed from its website lazada.com.ph several product advertisements following a report from the EcoWaste Coalition that these items were among those prohibited by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

Among those products banned by the government and offered for sale at lazada.com.ph and olx.ph were skin whitening cosmetics laden with mercury and slimming products containing amphetamine, sibutramine and steroids.

“We welcome the speedy action taken by Lazada to protect its patrons from buying banned items that could expose them to toxic mercury and other health-damaging substances,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

According to its website, “Lazada operates Southeast Asia number one online shopping mall in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.” Their website is visited by more than 45 million unique visitors monthly. Lazada has over 10 million plus Facebook fans.

“We hope that olx.ph and other online retailers will follow suit and disallow the use of their e-platforms for the unlawful sale of dangerous goods, which are mostly illegal imports, that could put the health of their customers at risk,” he added.

In a statement issued yesterday, Lazada Philippines announced that it has delisted from its website the products containing prohibited substances as reported by the EcoWaste Coalition.

"Following the report that a few products listed on Lazada.com.ph contain banned substances, Lazada has since removed the products and is issuing a full refund to affected customers," Lazada said.

"We are committed to having trusted merchants on our website, who are expected to be fully compliant with local laws and regulations," the company said.

"Lazada also proactively requests for Food and Drug Administration permits from merchants," it added.

“We have a zero tolerance policy and will remove any sellers not abiding by our guidelines,” Lazada said in a statement.

Lazada has offered to refund affected customers .

Customers may contact the company’s customer service teat at (02) 795-8900.