The blast of garbage in the promenade along Manila Bay due to the stormy weather has again put a spotlight on improper waste disposal.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog,described the chaos in Roxas Boulevard due to monsoon surge, flood and garbage as Mother Nature’s indictment of throw-away culture that runs through all levels of the society.
Yesterday, 1 August, tons of garbage from the bay carpeted portions of the baywalk creating an instant dumpsite right next to the US Embassy.
At the other end of the promenade, garbage gathered at the Manila Yacht Club, especially last Tuesday, turning the area into a “white beach” due to the plastic and styro flotsam.
“Binalik ng dagat ang lahat ng basura mula sa lupa na parang sinasabi sa mga matitigas ang ulo na kung ano ang tinapon mo ay babalik sa iyo” (The sea sent back the garbage from the land as if telling off pigheaded people that whatever you throw will return to you), said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
An ocular inspection by the EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrol found plastic bags and scraps, food wrappers, polystyrene materials, slippers, cigarette butts, plant and wood discards as among the most visible in the garbage piles.
Discarded plastic bottles and other recyclable plastic and tin containers were quick to disappear from the piles as enterprising wastepickers collect and even fish them out of the sea with their improvised net trap, the group noted.
The EcoWaste Coalition lamented that despite the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy in 2009 and the just as devastating incidents of flooding after it year after year, many Filipinos – from all walks of life – have yet to unlearn the bad habit of indiscriminate disposal.
“Improper waste disposal anywhere is a threat to human health and the environment everywhere. It’s more than an eyesore. It’s a precursor for other societal problems such as poor hygiene and sanitation, infectious diseases, chemical exposures, contamination of surface and ground waters, marine pollution, bleak tourism and even economic losses,”said Alejo.
In lieu of “waste mismanagement,” the EcoWaste Coalition urged the entire society, including the people, government, church, mass media, business and industry, to actively work for the full enforcement of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
The ecological management of discards will require a switch from the prevalent “buy,consume, dispose of, dump or incinerate” mentality to a sustainable way of living that embraces environmental protection and care beginning with waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting.
To assist the public in making the switch, the EcoWaste Coalition drew up a list of 13 practical “Bawas Basura” tips, which, if carried out, will promote ecological consumption choices as well as avert the disposal of useful discards in streets, waterways, waste dumps and burners.
A shift to ecological waste management will reduce the nation’s burgeoning waste estimated at nearly 13 million tons yearly, put an end to the outmoded practice of littering, burning and dumping of discards, and shut down and rehabilitate the over 1,000 illegal dumpsites all over the country, the group said.
Citing information from the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the whole country produces some 35,000 tons of waste daily, of which 8,400 tons come from Metro Manila.
Of the 12,775,000 tons of waste generated annually, some 40 to 70 per cent are collected and thrown in 1,205 waste disposal facilities, of which 55 are “sanitary” landfills and 1,172 are open or controlled dumpsites long forbidden under R.A. 9003.
Recognizing the central role of local government units in the implementation of R.A. 9003, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to all concerned public servants to earnestly enforce the law, combining sustained information, education and other value-formation efforts with steadfast programs to prevent and reduce waste.
13 BAWAS BASURA TIPS:
1. Reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose, segregate at source,recycle, compost and never litter your discards. Commit to diverting useful discards away from dumpsites, landfills, incinerators and cement kilns.
2. Discourage others from dropping or dumping trash;courteously explain how litter ruins the environment and damages public health and welfare.
3. Make it a habit to bring your own drinking water in are fillable water tumbler or jug. For coffee drinkers, always bring your refillable coffee mug/tumbler.
4. Don’t toss cigarette filters on the ground; work hard to quit smoking.
5. Carry a personal litter bag or hold on to your rubbish such as bus tickets, food wrappers and cigarette butts until you have found a bin.
6. Never throw litter out of cars; keep a litter bag in your vehicle to collect your trash until a bin is available.
7. Don’t dispose hazardous waste such as mercury-containing lamps, batteries and thermometers in regular trash.
8. Be a smart consumer, small is beautiful and less is more. Say no to plastic bags, make eco-bags your lifetime companion and always keep reusable/foldable bags in your purse or pocket for your needs.
9. Avoid buying in plastic sachets and “tipid-packs,” buy in bulk as much as possible and choose items in reusable or recyclable containers.
10. Bring empty ice cream or biscuit containers or small buckets when going to the market. You can use them for wet goods such as fish, poultry or meat before putting them into the basket or reusable bag.
11. Make it a practice to carry reusable food containers with you. This would come handy for take outs as well as leftovers from restaurants.
12. Shun drinking straws. Remind waiters not to give you one when you place your order and explain why. Drink straight from the bottle or use a cup instead.
13. Refrain from consuming single-use, throw-away stuff and opt for reusable ones such as cloth table napkin and cover instead of disposable ones, handkerchief in place of tissues, native fans in lieu of plastic fans.