“Iwas PapuToxic” Campaign Urges Kids to Desist Using Firecrackers to Avoid Injuries, Pollution

Environmental groups and health advocates led by the EcoWaste Coalition, together with about 2,000 students from Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School in Paco, Manila, today jumpstarted the annual campaign against the use of firecrackers by staging an on-campus noise barrage simulating a festive welcome of the New Year using safe and eco-friendly noisemakers.

In lieu of high-risk firecrackers, the school assembly, led by Principal Corazon Garcia, showed how the New Year can be as lively by sounding alternative noisemakers fashioned from recycled materials such as shakers made from cans and plastic bottles filled with seeds, coins and pebbles; tambourines from flattened bottle caps; cymbals from pots and pans; as well as the perennial favorite torotot from cardboards.

The activity was held to relaunch the EcoWaste Coalition’s “Iwas PapuToxic” drive. Now on its ninth year, the campaign complements the Department of Health’s firecracker safety drive by encouraging the public, especially the youth, to refrain from blasting firecrackers throughout the holiday season, and instead opt for safer and eco-sensitive alternatives in ushering in 2015 that will not imperil life, property and the environment.

The EcoWaste Coalition held poster and slogan making contests with the theme, “Iwas PapuToxic: Buhay, Kalusugan, Klima Sagipin,” as students with the most ingenious anti-paputok posters and slogans were cited.

The most resourceful noisemakers made from recycled materials were similarly rewarded.

“Firecrackers jeopardize our children’s health and safety, as statistics identify these as the major source of accidental deaths, human injuries and chemical pollution during these times of the year. It is our responsibility as adults to protect our children from toxic exposure and injuries that could endanger their health and development,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“These kids present here today have shown us that with a little creativity, we can look forward to a joyous New Year sans health-damaging and environment-polluting firecrackers,” she added.

Data from the DOH showed that there were 1,018 fireworks-related injuries from December 21, 2013 to January 5, 2014, 997 of which were due to fireworks, with one reported casualty. Piccolo remains the top culprit especially among children with 359 registered cases.

Joining the students in the “Iwas PapuToxic” activity was newly-crowned Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell, who, along with Santa Claus and a number of cosplayers, led the group in performing Kidz Bop Kids’ “Timber,” echoing the importance of an injury- and toxics-free holiday celebrations.

Also present at the launch were representatives from the Department of Health, Philippine National Police and Bureau of Fire Protection.

Considering the tragedy typhoon Ruby has brought to numerous provinces in Luzon and Visayas last week, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the general public to put off their plans to light firecrackers or conduct fireworks displays.

“We request our kababayans preparing for their annual pyrotechnic shows to abandon your plans and otherwise contribute the money you’ll save in rehabilitation efforts for the typhoon victims,” suggested Lucero.

“Aside from reducing toxic chemicals emission and preventing firework-related incidents, such warm-hearted and selfless actions will definitely help affected families and renew their hopes for a promising New Year,” she added.

For a toxics-free New Year celebration, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following eco-friendly and inexpensive noisemakers as alternatives to firecrackers and fireworks.

1. Save a finger, blow a torotot (Pinoy-style trumpets).

2. Clang cymbals from pot lids and pan covers.

3. Shake maracas made out of used tin cans.

4. Rattle the tambourine made from flattened bottle crowns.

5. Joggle “piggy banks” or “shakers” from paper box or plastic bottles with seeds, pebbles or coins.

6. Tap drums made of big water bottles, biscuit cans or buckets.

7. Create whistling sound or get a whistle and blow it.

8. Beat the batya or palanggana (washbasin) with a ladle or stick.

9. Knock empty coconut shells.

10. Switch on the radio or play your favorite music or musical instruments.

11. Ring the alarm clocks or play ringtones altogether.

12. Honk bicycle or car horns.

13. Clap your hands and stump your feet.

14. Laugh your lungs out and bid your worries goodbye.

15. Do the “Timber” dance, twist and shout “Happy New Year!”