EcoWaste Coalition: Strip Down for an Eco-Simple Holy Week

Quezon City. As Christian Filipinos observe the time-honored tradition of Semana Santa (Holy Week), a waste and pollution watchdog pleads for a more austere celebration that will not cause further environmental stress and degradation.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a network of some 100 groups working for Zero Waste and for environmental health, urges the faithful to strip down to basic human needs during the Holy Week and voluntarily give up non-essentials, including tobacco, alcohol and junk food, at least for a week, to give Mother Nature a breather from wasteful and dispensable consumption.

“Lent, a time for contemplation and renewal, is a fitting time to ponder about God’s Creation and the gift of life. It is a time to simplify, strip down and give up what we really do not need,” said Eileen Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The Holy Week, in particular, offers a week-long opportunity for us to avoid wasteful activities that fritter away resources and defile Mother Nature with trash,” added Sison who is also the NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

The group’s green Lent advocacy has earned the support of Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr. of the Diocese of Caloocan and head of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“I appreciate the EcoWaste Coalition’s effort to promote awareness about the link between faith and nature and I join them in requesting the faithful to observe an eco-simple Lent as we are all morally-bound to respect and protect the integrity of God’s Creation. Let’s do our part and start living simply and sustainably,” Bishop Iñiguez stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition has come up with a list of options for an eco-simple Holy Week that Christian Filipinos as environmental stewards can do from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and beyond.

The list came from inputs shared by concerned groups who believe in and see the beauty of simplicity, especially during Lent, and the necessity of reconciling our faith-inspired activities with what is good for human health and the planet.

As Marie Marciano of the Sanib-Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan (SALIKA) pointed out,: “Above all, honor the Crucified Christ by deliberately stripping away old habits and attitudes that continue to destroy the environment and our social fabric, and resurrect as a more caring and responsible Earthchild.”

Among those who shared their personal ideas for an eco-simple Holy Week were Add Up Volunteers, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Cavite Green Coalition, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Miriam PEACE, Mother Earth Foundation, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, and SALIKA.

Meanwhile, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP), a partner network of the EcoWaste Coalition, appealed to the faithful to quit smoking to protect the body, “the temple of the Holy Spirit,” from all kinds of harm and infirmity.

“In observance of Holy Week and 2010 as the ‘Year of the Lungs,’ we implore the faithful and all who seek to instill health consciousness for sustainable living, to quit smoking and to actively support the ban on smoking in all public places, workplaces, government premises and public conveyances to rid the air of tobacco-borne toxins and pollutants,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, Executive Director of FCAP.

“In the spirit of true reconciliation with our Lord, our environment, our neighbors, our families and loved ones, and also ourselves — let us keep our bodies and surroundings clean and free from these harmful substances. A smoke-free environment brings immeasurable life-saving rewards,” she added.


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

2. Fast, abstain, or eat spartan meals and spend the unused food budget on feeding the poor, such as cooking “tsampurado” for street children. Or donate it to “Hapag-Asa,” an initiative supported by the Pondo ng Pinoy Movement to combat hunger and malnutrition among poor children nationwide.

3. 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.

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

5. Skip two siestas; instead, devote the time to performing distant pranic healing and blessing of Mother Earth.

6. 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.

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

8. 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

9. 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.

10. Declare the whole week as “Conservation Week” for the family and agree to undertake practical measures to reduce consumption of water, electricity and other valuable resources.

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

12. 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.

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, cleaning up your neighborhood or removing 2010 election campaign posters from trees.

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. 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.

16. Instead of being lured to over-consumption at the malls, go to the park with a picnic basket packed with homemade pandan (lemongrass) tea or fruit juices and home-cooked snacks or meals rather than buying junkfood with all that environment-unfriendly packaging.

17. If you can, avoid going out-of-town. If you really must, however, 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.”