EcoWaste Coalition Launches ‘Iwas Paputoxic Drive” for Injury and Pollution-Free New Year

As part of their advocacy for environmental health and chemical safety, the EcoWaste Coalition today launched their annual “Iwas PapuToxic” drive to urge the public, particularly the youth, from blasting firecrackers throughout the holiday season to avoid injuries and deaths, and reduce toxic environmental pollution.

In an effort to boost the campaign, some one thousand Grades I, II and III students from Commonwelath Elementary School in Quezon City, led by Principal Rodolfo Modelo, portrayed how the New Year can be just as festive sans health-damaging and environment-polluting firecrackers by sounding alternative eco-friendly and home-made noisemakers from recycled materials to simulate the countdown celebration to a New Year.

“Iwas PapuToxic,” now on its eight year, is an annual campaign of the EcoWaste Coalition complementing the Department of Health’s firecracker safety drive by promoting safe and eco-sensitive substitutes to deadly and costly firecrackers.

The EcoWaste Coalition held on-the-spot poster and slogan making contests with the theme, “Iwas Paputok, Iwas Disgrasya, Tulong sa Yolanda,” as students with the best anti-firecracker posters and slogans were given rewards.

The most creative noisemakers made from recycled materials were likewise recognized.

“These safety-conscious kids have shown that we can ring in the New Year with sounds from ingeniously recycled noisemakers instead of firecrackers and fireworks,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics to usher the New Year has long been identified as a major source of accidental injuries and deaths, as well as toxic chemical pollution,” she added.

Lucero’s statement came on the heels of the group’s latest findings on the presence of high amounts of toxic metals such as antimony, barium and lead in various consumer fireworks that it purchased last week from street vendors at Juan Luna, M. de Santos, Sto. Cristo and Tabora Streets in Divisoria, Manila.

Joining the students in the “Iwas PapuToxic” activity were DOH Asst. Sec. Dr. Eric Tayag and Miss Philippines Water 2013 Nancy Leonard.

Also present at the launch were representatives from the Department of Education – NCR, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and numerous environmental groups.

In light of the tragedy super typhoon Yolanda has brought to several provinces in the Visayas last month, where nearly 6,000 people were already confirmed dead and still increasing, the EcoWaste Coalition renewed its appeal to the general public to junk their plans to light firecrackers or conduct fireworks displays.

“We request our fellow Filipinos preparing for their yearly pyrotechnic shows to cancel your plans and instead donate the money you’ll save to help the typhoon victims,” suggested Lucero.

“Aside from minimizing toxic chemicals emission and firework-related accidents and injuries, such kind-hearted and considerate acts will certainly benefit grief-stricken families and devastated communities, and enkindle their hopes for a brighter New Year,” she added.

For a toxics-free New Year celebration, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following eco-friendly and definitely inexpensive noisemakers as alternatives to firecrackers and fireworks. These are:

1. Save a finger, blow a torotot (Pinoy-style trumpets).

2.  Bang cymbals from pot and pan covers.

3. Shake maracas made out of used tin cans.

4. Rattle the tambourine made from flattened bottle crowns.

5. Joggle “piggy banks” or “shakers” from paper box or plastic bottles with seeds, pebbles or coins.

6. Tap drums made of big water bottles, biscuit cans or buckets.

7. Create whistling sound or get a whistle and blow it.

8. Beat the batya or palanggana (washbasin) with a ladle or stick.

9. Knock empty coconut shells.

10. Switch on the radio or play your favorite music or musical instruments.

11. Ring the alarm clocks or play ringtones altogether.

12. Honk bicycle or car horns.

13. Clap your hands and stump your feet.

14. Laugh your lungs out and bid your worries goodbye.

15. Do the “Roar” like Dr. Eric Tayag, twerk, twist and shout “Happy New Year!”