9 February 2007, Manila. Campaigners for healthy environment today launched a crusade for a waste-free elections to avert the anticipated avalanche of campaign trash that will likely end up in the horrendous dumps scattered all over the country.
EcoWaste Coalition volunteers from various groups and communities gathered outside the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Intramuros, Manila to push the poll body to take proactive measures that will check and curb waste in campaign operations and activities.
Together with Ms. Earth 2006 (Water) Cathy Untalan, the Coalition’s “super hero” named “Walang Aksaya” (or Zero Waste) presented to Commissioner Rene Sarmiento a set of guidelines that the COMELEC, political parties and candidates can use to prevent and reduce campaign waste.
The campaign mascot “Walang Aksaya” in a green and yellow costume linked arms with the more than 50 “Waste-Free Elections Patrol” volunteers. Together they vowed to persuade political parties and aspiring public servants to use resources judiciously and stick to earth-friendly campaign practices. They will likewise keep tabs on “dirty” candidates that hurt trees and spoil the surroundings with campaign trash.
“We urge all well-meaning candidates to put waste avoidance and reduction at the heart of their strategy to win, so as to minimize the health, environmental and financial costs of unwarranted campaign trash. Sa kandidatong may malasakit sa kalikasan, may pag-asa ang bayan,” said Manny Calonzo, Secretary, EcoWaste Coalition.
Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, the environmentalist leader of the Archdiocese of Manila, has endorsed the EcoWaste Coalition’s campaign, urging the COMELEC and Filipinos from all of walks of life to team up to ensure a clean election that is free from fraud and waste.
“As stewards of His creation, I urge all the faithful, especially the political parties and all those running for public office, to pay careful attention to the health and environmental effects of all campaign materials and events to ensure that nothing is wasted,” appealed Cardinal Rosales.
Waste-free elections, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, will diminish the wasteful consumption of paper and other valuable resources and minimize the release of toxic contaminants such as greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals into our communities and into our air, water and food supplies.
For instance, the EcoWaste Coalition is suggesting the use of post-consumer recycled paper for campaign materials to conserve trees and protect our forests, watersheds, and ecosystems. Data obtained by the Coalition show that each ton of recycled paper can reportedly save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, and 7,000 gallons of water. Uncoated virgin printing and office paper, on the other hand, uses 24 trees.
The Coalition advises candidates to shun campaign materials that are hardly reused or recycled such as confetti, buntings and balloons, and also to avoid tarpaulin, Styrofoam and other plastics as their disposal has been environmentally problematic.
The launch of the waste-free elections campaign drew the participation of Buklod Tao Foundation, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace, November 17 Movement, Sagip Pasig Movement, Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan, and Zero Waste Philippines.
10-POINT GUIDELINES FOR POLITICAL PARTIES AND CANDIDATES TO PREVENT AND REDUCE CAMPAIGN WASTE
1. Designate a lead team in the campaign structure that will be tasked to prevent or reduce campaign waste to zero or darn near in all campaign activities.
2. Target zero tolerance on garbage in all campaign meetings, sorties and related activities.
- Keep the campaign litter-free.
- Shun throwing confetti, exploding firecrackers or releasing balloons in campaign events.
- Refrain from using Styrofoam, plastic bags and other single-use containers for volunteers’ meals and drinks.
- Set up segregated waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards in campaign assemblies.
- Designate “eco-volunteers” to look after the bins and guide the public in the proper separation of their discards.
- Clean up right after the campaign event.
- Hire a local waste picker to pick up segregated wastes from campaign venue for recycling/ composting.
4. For election propaganda materials: to include a friendly reminder that says “Para sa ating kalusugan at kalikasan, huwag pong ikalat, itambak o sunugin” or its equivalent in local languages.5. Avoid the use of specific campaign materials such as tarpaulin and other plastics as their disposal has been environmentally problematic.
6. Use post-consumer recycled paper for campaign materials to conserve trees and protect our forests, watersheds, and ecosystems. To make recycling easy, avoid using plastic-coated paper.
7. Stay away from campaign materials that are hardly reused or recycled such as confetti, buntings and balloons. These are often burned or discarded in storm drains, esteros, rivers, seas and dumps.
8. Reject grafitti or vandalism, or the willful or malicious defacing or destruction of property.
9. Harm not the trees: spare the trees of election campaign materials. Use designated common poster areas.
10. Win or lose – remove election campaign materials from all sites immediately after the election day on 14 May 2007.
For more information, please contact the Ecowaste Coalition at 9290376.