Quezon City. As the pomp and glitter of the most festive time of the year unfolds, a waste and pollution watchdog warns the people to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from the many toxic threats lurking behind the dazzle of the season.
In a press conference held today, the EcoWaste Coalition warmly invited Filipinos from all walks of life to heed its call for a “Toxics-Free Pasko: Handog Natin sa Mundo” (“Toxics-Free Christmas: Our Gift to the World”).
The timely initiative is part of the ongoing effort of the EcoWaste Coalition to inform consumers about the risks and dangers of exposure to hazardous chemicals, and empower them to make sound decisions on what practices, products and services to choose.
“We hope to educate and encourage the public to be cautious about what they buy, consume, give and discard during the joyful holidays, to avoid exposing their families and neighborhoods to nasty chemicals that could make them very sick,” said actor and green warrior Roy Alvarez of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Beauty queens for the environment led by Karla Paula Henry, Miss Earth 2008, conveyed their solidarity with this well-timed advocacy for a greener Christmas. Accompanying her at the press conference were Andrea Leon, Miss Ecuador 2008; Marie Raquel Equia, Miss Philippines-Air 2008; Michelle Oblea, Miss Philippines-Water 2008; Kristelle Lazaro, Miss Philippines-Fire 2008; and Cathy Untalan, Executive Director, Miss Earth Foundation (MEF).
Miss Henry and Miss Untalan sat in the panel of green advocates, with popular TV host Juddha Paolo, and Zero Waste activists Roy Alvarez, Gigie Cruz and Sonia Mendoza who took turns in discussing ecological alternatives to some toxic practices that people often take for granted as they enjoy the holidays.
DECORATING GREEN. Miss Earth beauty queens Karla Henry and Cathy Untalan talked about “decorating green” with eco-friendly ornaments such as the traditional “belen” and “parol” from used or locally-sourced biodegradable materials to impart the true message of Christmas, which bared itself in the simplicity of the Babe in the Manger.
GIVING GREEN. Juddha Paolo spoke about “giving green” with eco-gift ideas that do not imperil children’s health and safety with hazardous chemicals, do not promote a culture of violence, and do not add to the usual mountains of holiday trash. His gift ideas include giving non-material gifts such as teaching a skill or participating in community endeavors.
PARTYING GREEN. Sonia Mendoza, chairperson of the Mother Earth Foundation, enumerated practical tips on “partying green” this Christmas by making a deliberate decision not to throw lavish and wasteful celebrations, including using only reusable party ware and segregating party discards for easy recycling or composting.
CLEANING GREEN. Gigie Cruz of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives shared some information about “cleaning green” using non-toxic cleaning materials as we spruce up our homes for the holidays, avoiding pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides that contain very harmful substances, and not dumping or burning trash.
REJOICING GREEN. Roy Alvarez, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition, dealt with “rejoicing green” to welcome the New Year without blasting expensive and polluting firecrackers and fireworks or burning used tires, and instead using substitute noisemakers that emit no pollutants and pose no threat to life and limb.
During the media event, youth artists from the Malayang Sining Community Theater (MASCOMTHEA) presented a mime-dance showing how the health of children can be put at risk with exposure to hazardous substances such as lead in toys. Lead is a chemical that can cause devastating brain damage in children.
At the press conference, the beauty queens, environmental activists and youth artists staged a tableau mimicking the scene of nativity with the “Three Kings” paying homage to the Child (represented by a paper mache globe) as traditional lanterns pasted with the label “toxics-free” adorn the place.
The campaign for a “Toxics-Free Pasko,” the EcoWaste Coalition said, should contribute to better attention being given by the government and other stakeholders on the adverse health effects caused by the exposure to hazardous chemicals in line with the chemical safety objectives of the Strategic Approach on International Chemicals Management (SAICM) that the Philippines and other governments agreed to pursue.
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