The Coalition exhorted local government units and other institutions planning to reach out to the poor to break the “plastic habit” and opt for packaging materials that will not add to the voluminous holiday trash.
“All of us bore witness to the havoc caused by the indiscriminate use and disposal of plastic bags in the frequent flooding incidents that hit our country in 2009,” said Ofelia Panganiban, Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“It’s high time for us to break the plastic habit and reduce the demand for single-use bags,” pleaded Panganiban, a veteran Zero Waste advocate.
“Government agencies and charitable institutions can lead the way by packing their Christmas offerings for the poor in bags or containers that can be used over and over again. As a gift to Mother Earth, let us patronize reusable substitutes to plastic bags,” she pointed out.
In lieu of disposable bags, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the use of bayong and baskets woven from native plant materials, tote bags made of cheesecloth, bags made from recycled materials such as juice packs and fabric scraps, and buckets or pails for the customary gift-giving during Christmas season.
By giving gifts in reusable bags or containers, gift-givers are also able to impart a clear environmental message that can positively influence the recipients’ behavior, the EcoWaste Coalition said..
“These simple acts could lead to a culture of change in favor of bayong and other eco-friendly alternatives that can yield significant ecological, climate, economic, cultural and aesthetic benefits,” Panganiban said.
As for possible Christmas treats that gift-givers can offer, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with a list that target recipients can use to enjoy a healthy and nutritious “media noche” and “noche buena.”
The list includes malagkit (sticky rice) and brown sugar for biko (sweet rice pudding), tablea (pure cocoa blocks) for hot chocolate drinks, queso de bola (Edam cheese) or other palaman sa tinapay (sandwich spread), pancit bihon (rice noodles), sotanghon (glass noodles), macaroni or spaghetti with matching ingredients and condiments for the main course.
Finally, the EcoWaste Coalition proposes that politicians should refrain from advertising their names, faces or tag lines on gift bags or containers to avoid allegations of early campaigning for 2010 polls. It also becomes an ethical issue, especially if the gifts were bought using public funds, the group said.