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.