The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has sought the cooperation of Yuletide revelers in keeping Metro Manila’s public parks litter-free during the holidays.
As tens of thousands are expected to welcome Christmas and New Year at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Rizal Park and other open spaces, the group feared a repeat of the all-out park littering just like in previous years.
“Year in and year out, many park visitors would leave their discards lying on the ground or throw them anywhere they please even in plant boxes and storm drains,” lamented Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Food leftovers and wrappers, polystyrene containers, paper and plastic bags, plastic bottles and cigarette butts are among the most littered items in public parks, the group observed.
“Please be considerate and environmentally-responsible this time around. Please bring your discards to the assigned bins or bring them home for proper recycling or disposal,” Tolentino said.
According to the group, littering is not only a blot on the landscape.
“Littering poses health and sanitation risks, is costly to manage and illegal to do,” Tolentino said.
Littered objects can become breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria, insects and pests, including chikungunya, dengue and Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes. Also, people, especially kids, can be injured if they accidentally step on broken glasses or bamboo skewers, she warned.
Littered objects will require the paid services of waste and sanitation personnel who have to work overtime to sweep, collect and haul visitors’ trash to dumpsites and landfills, she said.
Littering is actually an offense under Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, she pointed out. Violators can be fined from P300 to P1,000, asked to render community service or be required to pay the fine as well as perform community service.
To further curb littering in public parks, the group urged park administrators to deploy extra sweepers to frequently sweep areas with high human traffic.
“Psychologically, people tend to drop more litter in places that are unswept and filthy,” Tolentino said.
“Also, it will help if the park management will assign mobile anti-littering patrol equipped with megaphone and littering ticket to help in reminding park visitors to observe the law, as well as to apprehend those who violate it,” she added.