Groups Recycle Discards to Honor Pope Francis, the “Green Pope”

A Buddhist charitable organization and a zero waste advocacy network have teamed up to assist the church and the government in making tomorrow’s mammoth assembly compassionate to the environment.

The Tzu Chi Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition will mobilize over 250 volunteers to gather recyclables at the outskirts of Rizal Park, venue of the Concluding Mass of Pope Francis’ apostolic and state visit to the Philippines.
“We plan to retrieve as much recyclables as possible in adjoining streets where the huge crowd is expected to spill over, complementing the waste prevention effort inside the park,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Tzu Chi volunteers are passionate recyclers.  With their help, we expect more recyclable discards such as aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles, papers and cartons to be reclaimed instead of being dumped elsewhere, squandering resources and polluting communities” she said.
The Tzu Chi Foundation, Lucero noted, has been successfully recovering recyclables in major cemeteries in Metro Manila during Undas for the last three years.
“This is our small way of expressing our common admiration and support for Pope Francis, the green pope, who has constantly reminded us to live simply, end waste and protect all creation,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“This is also a good way of observing the first-ever ‘Zero Waste Month’ in the country as declared by P-Noy himself,” she added.
As per Proclamation No. 760 issued by President Benigno S. Aquino III on May 5, 2014, every month of January starting this year shall be observed as “Zero Waste Month.”
On Sunday, Tzu Chi volunteers in blue and white uniforms will roam around the surrounding areas of Rizal Park and gather recyclable discards for sorting at two recycling stations on site.  Afterwards, the sorted materials will be sent to Tzu Chi’s recycling center in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
EcoWaste volunteers, some of them wearing sandwich placards quoting Pope Francis’ reminder “Take Good Care of Creation,” will promote environmental awareness and responsibility through waste prevention and reduction.
The Tzu Chi Foundation is a volunteer-based spiritual and welfare organization founded in 1966 in Taiwan by Dharma Master Cheng Yeng, while the EcoWaste Coalition is an environmental network established in 2000 to uphold the ecological management of discards, excluding incineration.
 In a related matter, the EcoWaste Coalition urged business-minded Filipinos not to use the Concluding Mass to distribute leaflets, which may only end up as litter.
At the same time, the group asked the faithful to keep and treasure the Missalette that will be used during the Mass.
“It’s always tempting to distribute commercial leaflets in such a large event to promote and sell a product.  It may be good for business, but leafleteering could spell trouble for the environment,” Lucero said.
“Sadly, these leaflets, more often than not, are not really read and kept, but used for something else and simply left behind with no regard for the environment,” she noted.
“If it rains on Sunday, waste and sanitation workers and volunteers would find it more difficult to remove littered paper on wet and muddy ground,” she said.
“We can keep the paper waste low by simply not distributing leaflets other than those related to the Eucharistic feast such as the Missalette,” Lucero pointed out.
 “Please keep the Missalette in your bag or pocket after the Mass and don’t throw it away.  It’s like a piece of gem that the faithful should keep as a reminder of our prized encounter with the people’s pope,” she emphasized.