“Give Mother Earth a gift this Christmas: watch what you use and throw”

Concerned about the excessive generation of holiday trash, a waste and pollution watchdog and a religious leader today encouraged consumers to give Mother Earth a gift by watching what they use and throw out.

The EcoWaste Coalition made its appeal to consumers amidst the last-minute shopping frenzy for Christmas gifts, saying that holiday trash, or “holitrash”, has become as much of a tradition over the years as Simbang Gabi and Noche Buena.

“While some traditions are definitely worth keeping, the generation of ‘holitrash’ certainly shouldn’t be one of them,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition. “Instead of trashing Mother Earth even more this Christmas, let’s give her the appreciation and respect that she deserves. It’s time for us to start a new tradition, namely that of being more protective and mindful of our environment.”

The group’s plea for waste reduction during the festive season has drawn the support of a leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

“As we recall with joy the birth of our Redeemer, I encourage everyone to observe it in simplicity and be watchful of crass consumerism and the ensuing garbage that it generates. Christmas should not be an excuse for reckless wasting,” said Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., head of CBCP’s Public Affairs Committee.

Metro Manila residents generate approximately half kilo of trash daily per person, which goes up to one kilo or more during the festive holidays, the EcoWaste Coalition observed.

“It’s bad enough that we have to contend with the mountains of trash that we generate throughout the year,” said Alvarez. “Why do we have to add to the mounting garbage problem by buying into the consumerist philosophy that is pushed on us by commercial interests during the Christmas season?”

The coalition pointed out that waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, recycling and composting, which could help eliminate the piles of garbage in and around the metro, has yet to be fully implemented 10 years after the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act was signed into law.

“The lack of political will in enforcing the ecological management of discards means that the cycle of poisoning the environment will continue in the future,” said Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission. “It’s high time for the entire government machinery, the industry and the citizenry to put the law into effect.”

In order to help curb the problem of ‘holitrash,’ the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to commit to a more eco-friendly lifestyle starting this Christmas.

“Let’s think twice before buying things that we don’t really need,” said Alvarez. “Apart from helping the planet, we can also save our pockets from further damage during these trying economic times.”

“There are endless possibilities for recycling and living an eco-friendly lifestyle if we would only exercise a little creativity,” added Sison.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to replace toxic products in their shopping lists with eco-friendly alternatives. It further suggested rejecting plastic bags and goods with excessive packaging, and reusing unwanted items and leftovers. Recycling glass, metal, paper, and plastic and composting kitchen, garden and other biodegradable discards was also encouraged.

Consumers were also advised to think outside the box when wrapping Christmas gifts. Used newspapers or glossy magazine pages, for example, could be used in lieu of store-bought wrapping paper, while pretty jam jars or biscuit cans could be decorated and used to package homemade food items as giveaways.