Bishop, Watchdog Appeal for Garbage-Free Undas

A Catholic bishop and an environmental watchdog have jointly appealed to the public not to trash the cemeteries as millions are expected to remember their dearly departed on November 1 and 2.

In a combined appeal, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez and the EcoWaste Coalition called for a simple and waste-free commemoration of Undas in light of the country’s unrelenting problem with garbage.

“I exhort everyone to keep our cemeteries safe and clean,” said Bishop Iñiguez who also heads the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“Please don’t leave any trash behind. With public cooperation, we can turn the tide on trash and make Undas a pleasant occasion for all, especially for Mother Nature,” he pleaded.

Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, requested cemetery visitors to be mindful of the 3Rs (Respect, Reduce, Refuse) toward an earth-friendly Undas:

1. Respect the dead and the living by not leaving any litter in the cemetery and surrounding area.

2. Reduce what you bring to the cemetery to just the bare essentials and cut down on stuff used and discarded.

3. Refuse habits and practices that tend to pollute the occasion: smoking in the cemetery, dumping and burning of trash, consumption of disposable, one-time use plastic bags and containers, extreme noise from radio and music, etc.

“Let us treat the cemeteries with due respect and refrain from turning these sanctified sites into giant garbage bins,” Alvarez said.

In addition, the EcoWaste Coalition has put forward the following eco-ideas for the consideration of cemetery goers:

CANDLES: Select plain, clean-burning and minimally packed candles. Light just one or two candles to minimize heat and pollution in cemeteries that are crowded with people, young and old. It’s the thought that really matters, not the number, size, scent, packaging and price of candles offered in fond remembrance of our dearly departed.

FLOWERS: Pick locally grown fresh flowers and abstain from wrapping them in plastic that will soon become an unwanted litter. Flowers are already pretty.

MEALS AND DRINKS: Just bring enough, not easily perishable food items to avoid spoilage and poisoning. To reduce plastic bottle consumption, come to the cemetery with your own water jug. Refrain from bringing single-use, throw-away plastic bags, plates, cups and cutlery.

DISCARDS: Please do not be a “Zombasura,” the cemetery litterbug. Place your discards into their proper bins. If there are no bins available, please bring them home for reusing, recycling or composting.

TRANSPORTATION: Walk, bicycle, take public transportation or share a ride to the cemetery.

NOISE POLLUTION: Keep the noise down, especially from blaring radio and music, so as not to disturb others.

Last Friday, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Diocese of Caloocan Ecology Ministry, Malaya Theater Group and the Miss Earth Foundation, staged a “Zombasura” drive at Manila North Cemetery to drum up public support against littering and for waste-free Undas.