In celebration of the 2010 International Plastic Bags Free Day (IPBFD), environmentalists led by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) trooped to the Commonwealth Market wearing shopping bags in different colors that carry the message “Plastik: Hindi Walastik!”
“Walastik” is a popular Filipino expression that means “fantastic. Literally, it means “walang plastik” (no plastic).
“By cutting our use of plastic bags and other non-environmentally sound packaging, we significantly reduce our waste generation and lessen associated ecological hazards such as climate and marine pollution from happening,” she said.
“While national data on per capita consumption and disposal of plastic bags are not readily available, there is no lack of evidence of plastic bags ending up littering streets, parks, dumpsites, rivers, seas and even the sky. We really need to end our love affair with plastic bags and opt for reusables,” stated Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Plastics.
“The onset of the rainy season should compel us into having second thoughts about our unchecked use and disposal of plastic bags. We can help prevent floods by saying no to plastic bags and using reusable bags and containers. Indeed we can save Mother Earth one bag at a time,” said Kris Psyche Resus, Miss Philippines Earth 2010.
In US, only 5 percent of the plastics produced are recovered, 50 percent are buried in landfills, some are remanufactured into durable goods and the rest are “unaccounted for” or lost in the environment and ultimately into the oceans, according to 5 Gyres, a global research on plastic pollution in the marine environment
To tackle the plastic curse, the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA have identified practical actions that consumer, business and government sectors can do.
At the personal level, “Bring Your Own Bayong” (BYOB) or other reusable bags when you shop. Make an environmental statement by cutting and sewing your own reusable bags from rice or flour sacks,old jeans, fabric scraps and other used materials. Spread the BYOB culture to your family, neighborhood and workplace.
At the business level, supermarkets and shops should introduce their own reusable bags made of recycled and locally-sourced materials. Promote and provide attractive incentives to inspire consumers to bring their own bags or containers (i.e., rebate scheme, price cuts). Consider giving eco-friendly shoppers with non-financial rewards such as gifts of plants and trees.
At the government level, push the national and local authorities to ban single-use plastic bags. In the meantime, forbid their use for non-essential purposes (e.g., fiesta buntings and ornaments). Make manufacturers responsible for the environmentally-sound recovery of used plastic bags and packaging materials, including bearing the cost of plastic pollution and mitigation.
The green groups also urged the public to remind President Noynoy Aquino of his position on the issue of plastic bags as indicated in his response to the pre-election survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace.
“I’m for a ban on single-use plastic bags and other plastic-based disposable containers. Over the longer term we must have greater use of biodegradable materials for packaging and containers, and have a sound plan for recovery and recycling of plastics,” then presidential candidate Aquino said.
The groups cited the numerous benefits of taking decisive action against plastic bags such as 1) preventing storm drains and waterways from getting clogged and causing street flooding, 2) protecting coral reefs and all marine animals from plastic entanglement and digestive blockages, 3) reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and other harmful chemicals linked with the production, transportation, consumption and disposal of plastic bags,and 4) reversing the “plasticization” of our lifestyle with the increased promotion and adoption of eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives.
Citing data from the Ocean Conservancy’s 2010 annual report entitled “Trash Travels,” the organizers reveal that plastic bags rank first as the most littered items in Philippine seas at 300,715 pieces, followed by food wrappers and containers at 110,930, straws and stirrers 40,280, paper bags 32,026 and clothing and shoes 30,223.
A discards survey conducted in 2006 by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace found synthetic plastic materials comprising 76 percent of the floating trash in Manila Bay, with plastic bags constituting 51 percent.
Organized by the Catalan Foundation for Waste Prevention and Responsible Consumption, Amigos de la Tierra, Ecologistas de Catalunya and GAIA, the 2010 IPBFD seeks to raise public awareness on the problems with the overconsumption of plastic bags and other disposables and the urgency of adopting ecological values and lifestyle choices.
The 2010 IPBFD in the Philippines drew over 50 participants from the Buklod Tao, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability GAIA, Health Care Without Harm, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, UP Haring Ibon, Sining Yapak, Zero Waste Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat.
1. 5 Gyres
2. “Trash from Our Hands, to the Sea and Around the Globe through Time” http://www.oceanconservancy.org/site/PageServer?pagename=program_marinedebris_ICCreport
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