29 October 2019, Caloocan City/Quezon City. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Vice President and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and the EcoWaste Coalition, a zero waste advocacy group, urged Catholic Filipinos to break away from the “traditional” littering at cemeteries ahead of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, or Undas, on November 1 and 2.
“The time-honored practice of remembering our deceased loved ones and the Saints has turned into a de facto feast of litterbugs as cemetery guests leave tons of trash on what is supposed to be sacred ground,” said Bishop David.
“Let us break away from littering and other disrespectful acts and celebrate Undas as a prayerful instead of a wasteful occasion. Cemeteries are a hallowed ground, not a dumping ground for leftovers and disposables,” the pro-environment prelate emphasized.
To hammer home the message that cemeteries should not be treated as dumpsites, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Diocese of Kalookan’s Ministry on Ecology and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, today launched a joint campaign at the La Loma Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in the metropolis, espousing the theme “Kalinisan sa Huling Hantungan, Igalang ang Kalikasan.”
“We appeal to our fellow Catholics to take the saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ to heart when they visit the cemeteries. Our dearly departed ones deserve nothing less than a clean resting place,” reminded Sister Maria May Cano, OP, Coordinator of the Diocese of Kalookan’s Ministry on Ecology and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.
“The most effective way of preventing Undas garbage overload is by avoiding the generation of trash in the first place. This will require the conscious decision by families and individuals to consume responsibly, avoid single-use plastics and other disposables and not leave piles of rubbish in the cemeteries,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Echoing Bishop David’s plea, the groups enunciate practical steps to reduce waste and pollution in cemeteries and their environs.
Among the 10-point reminders from the groups toward a Zero Waste Undas are the following:
- Don’t litter, dump or burn trash in the cemetery.
- Choose lead-safe paints for repainting tombs.
- Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, and refrain from wrapping them in plastic.
- Pick clean-burning candles, and shun those with poisonous lead-cored wicks.
- Avoid making noise or playing loud music in the cemetery.
- Pack meals and drinks in reusable containers.
- Bring just enough food to avoid spoilage or wastage.
- Avoid single-use plastics and go for reusable bags, food and beverage containers, and cutlery.
- Don’t smoke or vape in the cemetery.
- Bring all discards home, including leftovers, and do not leave any trash behind.
To emphasize the above reminders, community youth scholars from Barangay Tanza II, Navotas City presented a skit before an enthusiastic crowd.
Also, the Diocese of Kalookan and the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Mangangalakal sa Longos and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong, lighted candles and paid tribute to departed environmental warriors led by former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez.
The program ended with the installation of a signage at the cemetery gate urging visitors to observe the 10-point reminders to achieve Zero Waste Undas.
“Together, let us make this year’s Undas more respectful and less wasteful compared to previous years,” the groups said.