As the authorities work double-time to get food packs delivered to poor families badly hit by the COVID-19 health crisis, an environmental health group lauded efforts to cut down on throw-away single-use plastics (SUPs) through the use of reusable bags and containers.
“We recognize the efforts by some food pack givers from both the public and private sectors to put together relief items in reusable bags and containers instead of SUPs that can only add to the plastic pollution crisis our nation is wrestling with,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“As April is the month of planet Earth, we hope that more groups will follow suit and bring environmental sustainability to the forefront of the whole-of-society approach to COVID-19 prevention and control,” he said.
The group’s plea for environmental sustainability complemented Environment and Natural Resources Roy Cimatu’s call last Tuesday urging “all Filipinos to turn the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to form earth-friendly habits,” including the “use of environment-friendly materials to minimize trash.”
“The use of reusable packaging materials for COVID-19 relief, as well as for other emergency and crisis situations, is certainly environment-friendly and should be the general rule,” Benosa said.
Reusable bags for food packs can serve as carry bags for groceries and other dry goods, pails can be reused for storing water or as a container for wet goods such as fish, poultry and meat, and corrugated boxes can be recycled or reused in a variety of ways, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
Additionally, t-shirts (with no ‘epal’ messages, of course) can also be re-purposed as containers for relief goods, it added.
The group also encouraged the authorities and other givers to provide food baskets consisting of fresh and nutritious food from local farmers and fishers.
“By supporting our local farmers and fishers during the enhanced quarantine period, we ensure that all families will have access to vitamin-rich and immune system food boosters that can help individuals in fighting the coronavirus,” Benosa said.
“Buying the products of our farmers and fishers is a good way of recognizing them as frontliners in the fight against COVID-19. This is an excellent way to thank them for their toils to get food to our markets and tables,” he emphasized.
The EcoWaste Coalition also encouraged food pack givers to consider purchasing bayong and other native bags from local weavers and community enterprises.
“Bayong made out of buri and pandan leaves and other locally available plant materials is the ‘ecological weapon of choice’ that we, Filipinos, could use to combat climate and plastic pollution at home,” the group said.