Green Groups to the Public: “Recover, Reuse, Recycle”

(Garbage woes at Barangay Damayang Lagi, Quezon City, 9 August 2012)
Environmentalists today appealed to the public to salvage whatever useful discards they can as citizens switch to the cleanup mode following the widespread floods in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces due to days of heavy monsoon rains.

“We urge everyone to be mindful of what they dispose of as the massive cleanup in affected communities is set to begin anytime now that the monsoon floods have started to subside,” said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It’s very tempting to just throw anything into the piles outside our homes and wait for the dump truck to come. Out of sight, out of mind,” he added.

“Please make efforts to recover, reuse and recycle discards that can be put to good use and keep them from ending up in dumpsites and incinerators or, worst, in waterways and into the oceans, which can exacerbate flooding and marine pollution,” he pleaded.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network championing zero waste, emphasized that society’s discards should not end up in the streets, dumpsites, incinerators and the oceans where they could pose serious health and environmental hazards.

Reckless garbage disposal, the group pointed out, pollutes the rivers, seas and oceans with all types of waste, especially from single-use, non-biodegradable disposable products and packaging materials.

“Let’s not forget the trashing of Roxas Boulevard in the wake of the monsoon surge last week. What we arbitrarily dispose of will haunt us and even the next generation,” Alejo said.

The EcoWaste Coalition, Miss Earth Foundation and Mother Earth Foundation have come up with some suggestions to minimize the flow of garbage from homes to garbage disposal sites and to the oceans.

“Reduce your consumption of non-biodegradable items such as plastics and styros. Cut the waste you produce each day by segregating your discards at home and enticing relatives and neighbors to do the same and recycle together,” advised Alejo.

“Go for reusable bags and products instead of disposable ones. Buy in bulk to minimize packaging waste. Recycle and use your own junk to augment your income,” recommended Cathy Untalan, Executive Director, Miss Earth Foundation.

“Families in evacuation centers should observe proper waste management. Plastic bags for relief goods should not be carelessly thrown and should be properly managed,” suggested Sonia Mendoza, Chairperson, Mother Earth Foundation.

In light of extreme weather disturbances due to climate change, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its call for the government to initiate a participatory process to draw up a management plan for disaster debris.

Disaster debris will include household debris (appliances, furniture, household goods), building debris (wood, concrete, metal, drywall) and vegetative debris (tree limbs, garden and farm waste).

“As you can see not all disaster debris is the same. There are ‘problem waste streams’ that will require special handling to avoid physical harm, bacterial contamination or chemical exposure among residents and waste workers,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.