EcoWaste Coalition Calls for “Simpleng Pasko” in the Wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda

Manila City. A
citizens’ environmental watchdog today gathered in front of Tutuban Mall in Divisoria,
Manila to urge Filipinos to celebrate Christmas sans extravagance and
wastefulness in deference to the catastrophic super typhoon that struck our kababayans in various portions of the
country last month.
Exactly one month after Super
Typhoon Yolanda devastated some provinces in the Visayas leaving nearly 6,000
people dead with still thousands of people missing, and rendering hundreds of
thousands homeless, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with Chorus Profundis, called
for a simple and waste-free celebration of the holiday season.
Dramatizing their advocacy for “Simpleng Pasko,” some members of the
group held bare star lanterns or parols
devoid of their usual colorful designs and glistening glitters while others
sung appropriately modified Christmas carols to signify a humble observance of this
joyous occasion and demonstrate solidarity with the victims of the Philippines’
deadliest typhoon on record.
“In unity with our fellowmen
coping with sorrow and loss, we invite the Filipino people to celebrate the
Christmas season in a subdued manner reminiscent of the spirit and simplicity
of the first Christmas,” said Ochie Tolentino, Vice President of the
EcoWaste Coalition.
“By toning down
seasonal revelries to bare essentials, we avoid falling victim to frantic
consumerism that has drown out the genuine meaning of Christmas and literally
wrapped our surroundings with trash,” she explained.
For her part,
Tin Vergara, EcoWaste Coalition’s Zero Waste Campaigner said that “money saved
from lavish gifts, extravagant festivities and wasteful fireworks can be used
to help Yolanda survivors reconstruct their homes and rebuild their lives.”
“We’re not
asking people to cast aside Christmas, but to adopt a “Simpleng Pasko” and find abundant joy in responding to the call
for humanitarian help from the disaster survivors,” she added.
As humanitarian assistance
continues to pour in from countless generous donors worldwide, the group
continually exhorted the public to give and specifically urged everyone to junk
planned firework shows and instead divert the funds allocated for such
pyrotechnics to aid grief-stricken families in reconstructing their houses and
in dealing with their psychological and economic losses.
A “Simpleng Pasko,” according to the
group, would require a conscious effort to cut down holiday expenses and reduce
waste generation, and instead rejoice in an austere and eco-sensitive
celebration of Christmas.
The group also
pointed out that huge amounts of raw materials and energy are consumed while
volumes of wastes and pollutants are generated during unrestrained gatherings
and festivities.
The EcoWaste
Coalition suggests the following eco-friendly tips to guide the public in
reducing trash this coming Christmas season:
1.    Reuse decorations from past celebrations.
Make garlands made from recycled
materials such as old cards, gift wraps and ribbons.
 Recreate the Belen (Nativity scene) using
recycled materials.
 Create a Christmas tree using potted plants or
trees, twigs or broomsticks.
If buying new items, look for those that
are locally made, non-toxic, reusable and require no electricity.
Choose safe, energy efficient and long
lasting Christmas lights with genuine Import Commodity Clearance (ICC).
Use your Christmas lights sparingly,
light them up only as Christmas nears and only when needed. Turn them off
during daylight hours and turn them off whenever you are away or asleep.
Refrain from over-the-top use of
Christmas lights: conserve electricity.
 Go for austere Christmas get-togethers. Money
saved from lavish parties can be shared to families and communities in need.
Say no to disposable party supplies such
as plastic plates, cups and cutlery. Go for items that can be cleaned and
Adopt a no left-over policy to prevent
wasting food.
Implement a system for ecological party
waste management to make reusing, recycling and composting easy. Consider
sharing clean food leftovers with the poor.
Organize Christmas shopping wisely to
avoid impulsive purchases and overspending and also to cut fuel costs and
greenhouse gas emissions. Walk, cycle or take the jeepney, bus or train
whenever possible.
Break the plastic bags habit. Bring with
you a reusable carry bag, basket or bayong
when you shop.
Avoid items wrapped in excessive
packaging and go for healthy and eco-friendly products.
Give non-material presents such as
giving your loved ones the more precious gift of time and company.
Give unused gifts, old clothes and books
to charity.
Give locally-produced products or
delicacies from your province such as fruits, vegetables, plants, sweets,
condiments, decorative and functional crafts, etc.
Give eco-friendly products that support
sustainable lifestyle (for example, reusable non-polycarbonate water jug,
solar-powered flashlight, non-toxic personal and household care products,
organic and GMO-free foodstuff, etc.).
5.   Choose
gifts that do not need to be wrapped such as potted plants, massage from blind
masseurs, gift checks, concert or game passes, raffle tickets etc. If wrapping
is needed, use old magazines or comics page of newspapers, old bandannas, etc.