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EcoWaste Coalition Rallies the Faithful to Observe a Trash-Free Holy Week

San Fernando , Luzon, Philippines, March 25, 2016: Easter crucifixion in the city of San Fernando. Crucifixion of Ruben Enaje. Photo by Uwe Bauch.

14 April 2019, Quezon City. An environmental advocacy group for a zero waste and toxics-free nation has called upon the Christian faithful to observe a greener Holy Week through acts that will prevent garbage and pollution.

On Palm Sunday, the EcoWaste Coalition again drew attention to the massive garbage that is generated across the country, and the need to step up concerted action to reduce the volume and toxicity of such garbage.

“The Holy Week is a perfect time to reflect on our wastefulness that is consuming lots of finite resources and creating huge quantities of garbage that often end up in the streets, dumps and the oceans, or as feedstocks for cement kilns and incinerators,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

According to government estimates, the country generates over 40,000 tons of garbage per day of which 9,872 tons are produced in Metro Manila.

“The Holy Week provides an opportunity for all people to act individually and collectively to promote environmental awareness and responsibility, especially in the way we use resources and treat our surroundings,” said Tolentino who is also a devout Catholic lay leader.

“As care for creation is an integral part of the Christian mission, we urge the faithful to make the Holy Week a time to break from wasteful habits that are destroying our communities and the ecosystems year in and year out,” she said.

Tolentino recalled the 2015 papal encyclical on the environment “Laudato Si” where Pope Francis decried that “each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources.”

“As faith without works is dead, we ask all to perform acts of mercy and kindness toward Mother Earth that will prevent and reduce the generation of wastes and other pollutants, especially during the holy days and beyond,” she suggested.

Toward an eco-friendly observance of the Holy Week, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the faithful to consider the following:

  1. Abandon acts that defile and pollute the environment such as littering, dumping and burning of discards.
  2. Keep all activities lead-safe: shun candles with lead-cored wicks and paints with lead content.
  3. Cut emissions by taking public transport, biking or walking for the seven churches visitation, or Visita Iglesia, on Maundy Thursday .
  4. Use recycled materials for the makeshift huts for the traditional Pabasa (Reading of the Passion of Christ).
  5. For the traditional giving or sharing of food called Caridad, shun disposable paper or plastic and opt for reusable containers.
  6. Ensure a litter-free pilgrimage to the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral in Antipolo City, the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte City and other shrines.
  7. Green the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) by collecting litter along the way.
  8. Decorate the floats for the Santo Entierro (Holy Interment) on Good Friday with energy-efficient and mercury-free LED lamps and with locally-produced flowers and plants.
  9. Welcome the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday without lighting firecrackers and fireworks and without releasing balloons.
  10. Keep Easter fun games and activities for kids simple and not wasteful.
  11. Donate used clothes and other items of service to the Segunda Mana charity program of Caritas Manila.
  12. Quiet down and opt for “staycation” at home for a meaningful bonding time with family members.
  13. For those going out of the city for their summer vacation, make your trip plastic-free, trash-free: “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”