29 December 2019, Quezon City. As 2020 approaches, a zero waste and toxics-free advocacy group has identified acts that should be avoided during the New Year’s Eve countdown to prevent environmental pollution.
For a nature- and climate-friendly celebration of the upcoming New Year, the EcoWaste Coalition advised the public and private sectors against lighting firecrackers and fireworks, releasing balloons, setting off sky lanterns, burning trash and used tires, and littering during the revelry.
“We advise all sectors to keep the 2020 countdown activities as ecological as possible. Event organizers should refrain from doing things that tend to contaminate the air, land and water with wastes and toxins that can harm humans and other living things,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Local governments, media outfits, shopping malls, hotels, resorts, and households should put the protection of the natural environment a top priority in the many exciting events being planned to ring in the New Year,” he said.
“Ensuring that planned events will cause no harm to the environment and the climate is necessary to protect ‘the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology’ as enshrined in the nation’s Constitution,” he emphasized.
The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that the ostentatious use of firecrackers and fireworks on New Year’s Eve blankets Metro Manila and other highly urbanized places with health-damaging toxic smog and should be totally avoided.
Money intended for firecrackers and fireworks, which also end up as hazardous litter, should be used instead to support relief and reconstruction efforts in disaster-stricken communities such as those devastated by earthquakes and typhoons Tisoy and Ursula, the group suggested.
The group also spurned the release of balloons at the stroke of midnight as these will subsequently pop and fall to earth as dangerous marine litter causing harm to aquatic animals who mistakenly eat the balloon pieces or get tangled up in balloon strings.
Like balloons, sky lanterns can cause injury and death to animals by the ingestion, entanglement and entrapment in the fallen lantern frames. Sky lanterns may also cause structural fires as well as wildfires, particularly when a lantern lands while the flame is still burning, the group said.
The EcoWaste Coalition also urged revelers not to set rubbish and used tires on fire, warning that open burning creates a toxic cocktail of fine particulates, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants or POPs like dioxins.
Finally, the group reminded merrymakers, especially those who plan to greet the New Year in public parks, not to leave any trash behind.
“Let’s keep our parks clean, tidy and safe by not littering, smoking and vaping there at all times,” said Dizon.