EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for “Walang Aksaya,” Zero Waste Holy Days

(Photo by Miguel Candela)

An environmental network has exhorted the faithful to aim for reduced garbage generation during the week-long observance of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ the Redeemer.

“We urge our Christian brothers and sisters to voluntarily declare Palm Sunday to Easter as ‘Walang Aksaya’ (zero waste) week and avoid practices and activities that create garbage and pollution during the holy days,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog.

“Such a gesture will surely give Mother Earth a much-deserved relief from our wasteful lifestyle that is taking a heavy toll on our fragile ecosystems,” he added.

“A less wasteful living even for only a week will translate to tons and tons of garbage not being created and dumped or burned elsewhere, particularly in Metro Manila, the country’s top waste generator,” he emphasized.

Data from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) indicate that waste generation in the metropolis has reached 8,746 tons per day in 2010.

“A break from our usual buy-consume-throw routine during the Holy Week and beyond could be our penitential act leading to our ecological conversion,” Alvarez said.

Possible indicators of “Walang Aksaya” holy days are many and could include a more conscious effort to lessen what you throw to the bin through increased reusing, recycling and composting; a more determined stance to use reusable bags and containers instead of plastic bags; a more judicious use of utilities such as water and electricity; and a more deliberate plan to eliminate all forms of littering and wasting, especially in religious activities.

“We request those organizing and participating in the “pabasa,” “senakulo,” Stations of the Cross, “Santo Entierro” and the Easter “Salubong” not to trash these time-honored expressions of remembrance and faith,” Alvarez stressed.

“We specifically ask those planning to join the ‘Alay Lakad’ to Antipolo City not to turn their pilgrimage into ‘Alay Kalat’ as we have many times observed in the past,” he stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition has come up with these tips towards an eco-simple Holy Week:

1. Declare the whole week as “Walang Aksaya Week” for the family and agree to undertake practical measures to cut waste and reduce consumption of water, electricity and other valuable resources.

2. Throw less; aim to reduce waste by ensuring that everyone in your household knows and observes basic practices in ecological discards management such as sorting, reusing, recycling and composting.

3. Stay home and enjoy peace and quiet for a change. This will save gas and reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change.

4. If you really must go out-of-town, please consider the following:
a. Choose a destination that is not overcrowded so as not to strain the local resources.
b. Visit sites that promote ecotourism and those that really benefit the local community.
c. Use the public transportation or a car pool in going to your chosen destination.
d. Apply the ecological creed: “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”

5. Quit smoking for a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, and support all tobacco control measures, including the ban on smoking in all public places, workplaces, government facilities and public transportation.

6. Give up morning and afternoon snacks and share the money you will save with “Alay Kapwa” or your favorite charity.

7. Fast, abstain, or eat spartan meals and spend the unused food budget on feeding the poor, such as cooking “tsampurado” for street children or fire victims (e.g., March 28, 2012 Tatalon fire victims).

8. Avoid fastfood or restaurant food; prepare simple but healthy home-cooked meals with no meat, no preservatives and no wasteful packaging. Make Holy Week the perfect excuse to try a vegetarian diet.

9. Avoid junk food and soda the whole week; take fruits and plain water.

10. Bring your own “binalot” food and drinking water when you do your Visita Iglesia on Maundy Thursday. Walk, bike or take the public transportation to the churches you will visit.

11. Unclutter your closet; pick at least five pieces of clothes and give them to sampaguita vendors or donate stuff to the “Segunda Mana” project of Caritas Manila.

12. Make space on your bookshelf by donating some of your books to public libraries and schools.

13. Do something different as a response to the call for change. Give up some personal time to serve the church and the society like volunteering your service to a ministry for the underprivileged or cleaning up your neighborhood.

14. Set a time to reflect and meditate with spiritually uplifting music; plant a tree or herbs, vegetables or even pretty flowers; or learn to cook a healthy, great-tasting vegetarian dish for the whole family to enjoy.

15. Challenge yourself on how much you can do without, and discover just how little you really need: For example, abstain from malling, movies, television, internet gaming, texting, and electronic gadgets that consume lots of your personal time, and rediscover the satisfaction of physical exercise, the wonder of conversations, and the joy of spending fruitful moments with your loved ones.