EcoWaste Coalition Calls for “Green” Holy Week, “Good Earth Day” on Good Friday

Quezon City. An environmental network promoting Zero Waste and sustainable living is calling for a “green” Holy Week as Christian Filipinos prepare to mark the last week of Lent from April 17 to 24.

“We are inviting the faithful to celebrate the Holy Week with a pledge to cut back on garbage and pollution as part of our spiritual works of penance, charity and reconciliation,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Abstaining from wasteful consumption during the holidays and beyond augurs well for both Mother Earth and the future of our climate change-threatened nation,” he pointed out.

“The fact that Earth Day this year falls on Good Friday is indeed good for the environment as this should mean less cars on the streets, less energy use in malls, less noise, less non-essential consumption and less garbage. Let Good Friday be a Good Earth Day as well,” he added.

Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. has concurred with the group’s call for a green Holy Week as it complements the theme of this year’s “Alay Kapwa” (a lenten evangelization-action program of the Catholic Church): “Our Neighbor and Environment, Our Responsibility.”

“A green Holy Week is a timely call in response to the wastefulness and greed that is blatantly trashing our fragile environment. I encourage everyone to plan for an earth-friendly and spiritually-nourishing week,” the Bishop of Kalookan said.

“As stewards of God’s Creation, it is our shared responsibility to respect and preserve Mother Earth and protect her ability to support and perpetuate life,” he added.

“Let our Christian faith radiates in the way we relate and nurture the environment,” stated Bishop Iñiguez, who also heads the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Permanent Committee on Public Affairs.

To inspire and guide all citizens in observing the Holy Week with the planet in mind, the EcoWaste Coalition has released 12 down-to-earth suggestions for a greener observance of the death and resurrection of Christ the Redeemer.

1. No littering please. Ensure that nothing is wasted nor littered as you accomplish your vows to the Most High. Youth pilgrims, for instance, who will trek to Antipolo City on Maundy Thursday should keep Marcos Highway, Sumulong Highway and Ortigas Avenue Extension litter-free. Please pick up litter along the “Alay-Lakad” trail and never leave trash behind. Remember: “Do not defile the land in which you live and in the midst of which I dwell.” (Numbers 35: 34)

2. Shun disposables. Avoid single-use items such as plastic bags, water bottles and beverage cups as you perform your Lenten plans Be guided by this timely reminder from our bishops: “eliminate wasteful consumption” (CBCP Statement “Upholding the Sanctity of Life,” November 2008).

3. Power down. Drive less to cut fossil fuel use and slash greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming and climate change. Walk, cycle or take the public transportation. For planned “Visita Iglesia” (church visitations), consider doing your pilgrimage online at http://visitaiglesia.net

4. Call off expensive, non-essential long distance trips and consider giving the money saved to the “Alay-Kapwa” program (http://caritasmanila.org.ph/alay-kapwa) or to your favorite charitable causes.

5. If you are planning a family or “barkada” (circle of friends) outing to the mountain, lake or the sea, please abide by the eco-creed “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”

6. Say no to plastic carry bags. Cut your consumption of wasteful plastic bags by bringing your own “bayong” or reusable shopping bags.

7. Save trees. Bring your own handkerchief or towel to limit the use of disposable tissue while you battle the heat during the “Via Crucis” (stations of the cross), penitential services and liturgical celebrations.

8. Go for tobacco-free and alcohol-free “Pabasa” (chant reading of the Passion of Christ). Keep the “pabasa” a healthy neighborhood spiritual affair by making the “kubol” (makeshift structure) and its immediate vicinity a “no smoking, no drinking” zone.

9. Say no to “Styro.” Choose reusable over disposable cups, plates and cutlery for meals and drinks served to “pabasa” readers; offer native “kakanin” or vegetarian meals served with plain water, throat-soothing “salabat” (ginger tea), “buko” juice, a natural isotonic beverage, or melon “palamig” (coolers).

10. Avoid overdoing the “carrozas” (floats) for the Good Friday “Santo Entierro” (holy burial) procession, enhancing them only with biodegradable stuff like sampaguita and other natural flowers and plants.

11. Go for simple, eco-friendly Easter “Salubong” sans firecrackers and confetti to commemorate the heavenly encounter between the risen Christ and “Mater Dolorosa” (sorrowing mother). Let us learn from the “Salubong” firecracker accident that injured churchgoers in Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Sampaloc, Manila last year. Paper and plastic confetti can be substituted with petals and leaves, which can be composted after the event.

12. If you are planning to do Easter egg hunt, only use natural ingredients or dyes to color the eggs. Promote a healthy and balanced diet by not giving kids junk food treats.