Green Groups Campaign for a Safe and Climate-Friendly Welcome to 2010

Manila. With 2010 just around the corner and the likelihood of bloody and filthy welcome rites happening again for the nth time, green groups today intensified their advocacy for ecological alternatives to firecrackers and fireworks.

Latest government tally shows that between December 21 to 26, some 54 Filipinos have suffered from various injuries due to blasting firecrackers, while firecracker-related fires killed three people in Mandaue City on December 24 and another three in General Santos City on December 25.

With the baroque façade of the church as backdrop, members of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Care for the Earth Ministry of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate, Manila held an “Iwas PapuToxic” drive to encourage the public not to blast firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices to hail the New Year.

An ensemble of 30 kids from the Children’s Ministry of the parish danced and created sounds with gusto using improvised noisemakers fashioned from recycled materials such as bottle caps, tin cans, product containers, pot lids and washing pans.

Other participants unfurled a banner and held placards with the message “say no to firecrackers for a safe and climate-friendly New Year.”

“The unfolding climate crisis should discourage us from wasting resources and causing pollution that is inflicting harm to health and the environment. Let us heed the clarion call for a safe and climate-friendly New Year revelry without exacerbating the pollution in our communities,” said Fr. John Leydon, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Remedies Parish.

“Dapat tayong umiwas sa paggamit ng paputok dahil ito ay maaaring maging sanhi ng sunog at pagkasira ng ating kalusugan at kalikasan,” said John Albert Sicat of the Children’s Ministry, Our Lady of Remedies Parish. (“We need to avoid blasting firecrackers as this can cause fire and damage our health and the environment.”)

“Detonating firecrackers and fireworks is akin to setting hard-earned pesos on fire, while exposing ourselves and the children and animals around us to extreme noise, physical hazard and toxic residues,” said Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Lucero outlined six reasons why Filipinos should turn away from firecrackers and fireworks, which the Department of Health has described as “very dangerous” altogether.

1. They can cause serious if not fatal injuries and incorrect handling can lead to the loss of limbs, lives and properties.

2. They produce smoke and dust loaded with harmful chemicals that can aggravate the poor air quality and cause ill health.

3. They leave behind unwanted discards such as paper scraps, cellophane and plastic wrappers, and PVC pipes from “boga” that add to the mountains of holiday trash.

4. They produce deafening noise that can lead to anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, and hearing disabilities, and trigger high blood pressure and heart attack.

5. They can result to severe ear injuries for animals who are more sensitive to sound, so the noise hurts their ears, terrifies them, and causes them to run wildly or lose their navigational skills.

6. They waste money that should be spent instead to buy food for the table, clothes and books for the children and other essential needs.

In lieu of firecrackers and fireworks, the Care for the Earth Ministry and the EcoWaste Coalition urge the use of the following safe and climate-friendly substitutes:

1. Blow traditional horns or “torotot;” pick the one made of recycled materials.

2. Be a whistleblower: create whistling sound or get a whistle and blow it.

3. Create and shake homemade maracas from used tin cans (e.g., cans used in preparing media noche staples).

4. Fill box or plastic containers with some pebbles, caps or coins and create your instant “shakers.”

5. Rattle the tambourine made from flattened bottle caps.

6. Clank improvised cymbals using pot lids or pans.

7. Jangle the batya or palanggana (washbasin) with a ladle or stick.

8. Bang empty coconut shells.

9. Play the guitar or any available musical instruments.

10. Play your favorite music.

11. Beep the bicycle or car horns.

12. Clap your hands and stump your feet.

13. Sing, dance and shout “Happy New Year!”

“We call upon all parents and children to prevent the annual scene of carnage, smog and garbage and say no to firecrackers and yes to health and life,” the groups said.