EcoWaste Coalition Renews Appeal for Garbage-Free Undas

An environmental watchdog group has reiterated its plea to the general public not to litter in cemeteries as millions prepare to visit the graves of their departed family members and friends.

"Our message is simple: 'ang sementeryo ay dasalan, hindi basurahan.'  The massive 'Undas' littering year in, year out is a gross disrespect for the dead and Mother Earth.  We need to kick this filthy habit and remember our departed loved ones in an earth-friendly and respectful manner," said zero waste campaigner Tin Vergara of the EcoWaste Coalition.

To prevent waste and pollution in cemeteries and their environs, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to consider the following suggestions:

1. Shun littering, dumping or burning of trash.  Do not discard cigarette filters, food wrappers and leftovers, water bottles, etc. on cemetery grounds, and bring them home for recycling, composting and disposal.

2.  Avoid bringing single-use plastic disposables to the cemetery such as carry bags and food and beverage containers and opt for reusable bags and containers instead. 

3.  Never waste food and water.  Bring just enough food and water in reusable containers to prevent waste.

4.  Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones and avoid wrapping them in plastic, which will only end up as trash.

5.  Choose clean burning candles that do not have lead core wicks, and do not let candle holders or receptacles to burn.

6.  Refrain from smoking in the cemetery.

To further reduce garbage in cemeteries and surrounding places, the EcoWaste Coalition also appealed to concerned groups and individuals to refrain from distributing commercial and political leaflets that will only end up abandoned on streets and tombs.

Wary of politicians who might take advantage of the large crowd to promote themselves, the group asked all “epaliticos” not to hang or nail tarps on lamp posts and trees in cemeteries and adjacent communities, stressing that “epal” acts will leave a bad taste in the mouth.

The EcoWaste Coalition last Tuesday organized a “BasuRUN” (run against garbage) with 100 participants led by “running priest” Father Robert Reyes at the Manila North Cemetery to remind the public that cemeteries are places of prayer, not dumpsites.

"My heart breaks when I see people throw away trash on the ground without any feeling of guilt or shame.  Even sanctified places like the cemeteries are not spared.  It's high time that we acknowledge that we sin against Mother Earth and other creatures who inhabit this planet every time we litter and desecrate our shared home, said Reyes.

"As Pope Francis has painfully reminded us through his encyclical Laudato Si, 'the earth our home is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,' and we need to take action now to stop this creeping environmental destruction," he added.