Environmental and health advocates led by actor Roy Alvarez posed this question before an attentive crowd of some 1,300 pupils at the Pinyahan Elementary School in Quezon City.
In response, the Grade 1 to Grade VI pupils, along with their parents and teachers, gleefully shouted “no” in unison to blasting firecrackers to ring in the New Year.
This was the lively scene at the annual “Iwas PapuToxic” event organized by the EcoWaste Coalition that has “Action for Paputok Pollution and Injury Reduction” (APPIR) as its theme, complementing the Department of Health-led firecracker safety drive this year.
The young participants excitedly showed off their eco-friendly noisemakers made from materials commonly found in many households such pot lids, tin cans and plastic bottles, which instantly filled the air with energetic sounds.
“These safety-conscious kids have shown that we can greet the New Year with sounds from recycled noisemakers instead of the customary firecrackers and fireworks,” said Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“By opting for emission-free and injury-proof New Year’s revelry, we save lives and limbs and prevent poisonous chemicals from causing air, water and land pollution,” she added.
Joining the Pinyahan students in the lively “Iwas PapuToxic” event were Department of Health Spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag, Quezon City District IV Councilor Edcel Lagman, Jr. and school and barangay leaders.
Apart from causing grave if not deadly injuries, exploding firecrackers and fireworks causes toxic pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.
“Assigning common areas for blasting firecrackers and fireworks will not trim down the huge amounts of toxic fumes, metallic elements and particulate matters associated with the dirty and violent rites,” observed Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“In lieu of designating common pollution spots, local authorities should identify and enforce ‘paputok-free zone,’ particularly in fire-prone neighborhoods and in areas near hospitals, schools, playgrounds, zoos and churches,” he said.
“Funds allocated for firework shows from public or private sources are better spent to meet basic human needs such as food for the hungry. Barangay tsibugan na lang kapalit ng putukan,” Alvarez added.
During the “Iwas-PapuToxic” launch, environmentalists called attention to the pressing need to stop extensive pollution from firecrackers and fireworks amid the unfolding climate crisis.
Air pollution, they said, is exacerbated by the dispersal of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere triggering allergies, heart disturbances, asthma attack and respiratory ailments, including bronchitis, laryngitis, emphysema and pneumonia.
Water pollution is worsened by fallouts and residues from firecrackers and fireworks that go down to storm drains, rivers and seas contaminating the marine ecosystems, they noted.
They lamented that land pollution is aggravated too by the non-recyclable and non-reusable paputok waste, including cellophane, plastic and paper scraps, as well as used PVC pipes from “boga” (mock cannon).
Also, massive noise pollution is created by the loud bangs and tremors that can disturb, upset and scare humans as well as animals, and even damage the sense of hearing, they pointed out.
EcoWaste Coalition’s Top 15 Eco-Friendly Noisemakers to Welcome 2012:
1. Blow Pinoy-style trumphets (torotot).
2. Clank improvised cymbals such as pot covers or pans.
3. Jangle some maracas from used tin cans.
4. Rattle the tambourine made from flattened bottle crowns.
5. Jiggle “piggy banks” or “shakers” from paper box or plastic bottles with seeds, pebbles or coins.
6. Play homemade drum made of big water bottles, biscuit cans or buckets.
7. Create whistling sound or get a whistle and blow it.
8. Strike the batya or palanggana (washbasin) with a ladle or stick.
9. Bang empty coconut shells.
10. Play your favourite music or musical instruments or just turn on the radio.
11. Set the alarm clock at 12:00 midnight or play ringtones altogether.
12. Beep the bicycle or car horns.
13. Clap your hands and stump your feet.
14. Laugh at the top of your lungs.
15. Do the latest dance craze, twist and shout “Happy New Year!”