EcoWaste Coalition calls for waste-free Brigada Eskwela

Quezon City. With the next school year just around the corner and public schools get ready for the Brigada Eskwela next week, zero waste advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition appeals to make the weeklong national schools maintenance event waste-free. 

“We call on every participant to this weeklong occasion of bringing to life the Filipino bayanihan spirit in cleaning-up and beautifying our public schools for the next school year to make the event green and waste-free,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Program Officer of EcoWaste Coalition.

“Sad to say though, we have witnessed in the past how major prohibitions of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003, such as on open burning and on mixing  of wastes, have been violated during the Brigada Eskwela,” she stressed.

“Zero waste, for a fact, fits well this major initiative of the Department of Education (DepEd) and so we hope that cooperating entities will be aware that the occasion is not only about taking trash away from schools and putting new paints on structures,” she continued.

“Rather, we see the Brigada Eskwela as an effort to realize the mandates of RA 9003 in the school communities, segregating at source, composting, reusing, and recyling,” she said firmly.

As guidance to Brigada Eskwela organizers and participants, EcoWaste Coalition itemized the following tips to make the event waste-free:

  1. Separate biodegradable from non-biodegradable discards.
  2. Compost biodegradable materials, such as grass cuttings, leaves, and twigs.
  3. Reuse whatever discards that can still be reused, such as turn large-enough tin cans or plastic containers into plant pots.
  4. Sell to junkshops recyclable throw-outs, such as papers, cartons, tin cans, bottles, and metals.
  5. Store reusable discards for possible future use, such as for art materials in school projects.
  6. Do not burn trash.
  7. Do not dump mixed garbage anywhere inside, not even outside, the school premises.
  8. Use reusable or recyclable containers for volunteers’ meals and drinks.
  9. In painting activities, do not  use leaded paints to prevent unnecessary exposure of participants and incoming students to the hazardous impacts of lead to health.
  10. Observe proper painting procedures to prevent the spread of leaded dust in the surroundings.
  11. Use eco- and health-friendly cleaning agents, like vinegar and baking soda, or just plain soap and water, avoiding hazardous ones like muriatic and Oxalic acid.
  12. Handle and store safely all busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps and other “special wastes.” Contact manufacturers or concerned government agencies for assistance in environmentally-sound disposal of such wastes.
  13. Observe “no smoking policy” as embodied by DepEd Order 73-2010, R.A. 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 and other related policies. This will prevent not only the resulting cigarette butt wastes and air pollution, but also exposure to related health hazards.

EcoWaste Coalition defines zero waste and waste-free not to mean only trash-free, but rather to mean without wastage. The coalition maintained that zero waste encompasses even issues related to toxics, as these results to wastage of our most important resources: human and environmental health.

During the Brigada Eskwela next week, the coalition will adopt a school to prove their point well.

DepEd scheduled the actual school maintenance and clean-up activities from 18 to 23 of May, expecting the “festive coming together of students, teachers, school officials, parents, community members, local government officials, non-government organizations, church groups and the private sector”, as the Brigada Eskwela Manual puts it, to physically prepare all public schools nationwide for the coming school year.