With just a few days left before Christmas and New Year, the environmental advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition exhorted the general public to do their best to lessen the generation of garbage this festive season.
Through a statement released in time for the start tomorrow of the nine-day “Simbang Gabi” Christmas tradition, the group drew attention to the nation’s ballooning waste production estimated at over 40,000 tons daily and the need to seriously cut wasting.
“The rash of holiday shopping, gift-giving, partying and other festive activities is expected to generate truckloads of garbage like in past celebrations,” observed Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Individual waste generation in Metro Manila estimated at 0.2650 to 1.0032 kg/person/day, for instance, will surely swell with increased consumption and disposal during the extended holidays, especially if discards are not properly sorted at source,” he said.
“We can show Mother Earth some kindness this jolly season by preventing and reducing waste such as single-use plastics,” he pointed out.
Considering the plastic pollution crisis that is threatening the world’s oceans, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to consume and dispose of less plastic during the holidays and beyond.
For a plastic-less Christmas and New Year, the group suggested these tips: 1) bring reusable bags and containers on your trip to the wet market, tiangge, department store or shopping mall, 2) refrain from buying over packaged products, 3) avoid disposable cutlery (spoons, forks, knives) and crockery (dishes, plates, cups), 4) give plastic-free gifts, and 5) opt for home-made reusable holiday decorations.
As an example, the group cited the effort of the Catholic Women’s League (the country’s largest Catholic women’s organization) to reduce plastic waste by encouraging their 250,000 members to bring their own water bottles and utensils to their fellowships and gatherings.
“Gift-giving need not put a strain on the environment. Please make it a habit to cut your gift wrap waste. Bags, boxes, cards, ribbons, bows and wrappers should be reused or repurposed instead of being burned or dumped,” said Alejandre.
He also underlined some food waste prevention tips, including planning the Noche Buena, Media Noche and other holiday meals carefully, observing safe food preparation, not over serving food, and properly storing, creatively recycling or sharing left-overs.
Biodegradable discards such as fruit and vegetable peelings and food scraps can be composted, while non-biodegradable discards such as aluminum and tin cans, cardboard and paper, glass and plastic bottles and other recyclables can be given to informal waste recyclers or sold to junk shops, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.
As Christmastime is a favorite time to buy electronics, the group encouraged consumers to “think environment” before making any new purchase. To prevent the generation of electronic waste (or e-waste) this Christmas, the group suggested prolonging the life of existing gadgets and other electronics by getting them repaired, refurbished or upgraded instead of replacing them with new ones.
"E-waste such as spent batteries, bulbs, mobile phones and TVs - because of their toxic content - should be managed in an environmentally-sound manner and not mixed with ordinary waste,” Alejandre reminded.
Reference for per capita waste generation in Metro Manila: