Right to Health and Safety Pushed as Brigada Eskwela Goes in Full Swing

A Zero Waste advocacy group has reminded Brigada Eskwela organizers and supporters nationwide to observe ecological and healthy practices as public elementary and secondary schools get a makeover in time for the resumption of classes on June 4.

“The Brigada Eskwela provides a concrete opportunity for the school community to promote environmental, health and safety consciousness among the participants of the cleanup and repair activities,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Project Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“By being careful on how it will be carried out, we minimize waste and pollution from the Brigada Eskwela, while instilling a collective attentiveness to best practices that are good for human health and the environment,” she added.

Among these best practices that the EcoWaste Coalition strongly advocates for in the ongoing Brigada Eskwela are the following:

1. Segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards for reusing, recycling and composting.

2. No open burning or dumping of garbage, which are both prohibited under R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

3. Use of non-lead paint in the repainting of classrooms and other school amenities.

4. Observance of proper repainting procedures that will minimize the spread of paint dust in the surroundings that could potentially contain lead.

5. Use of non-hazardous cleaning agents. Specifically, non-use of muriatic acid and dichlorobenzene toilet blocks to clean and sanitize toilets.

6. Adherence to safe storage and disposal procedures for busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps and other “special waste.”

7. No smoking inside the school premises, which is banned under DepEd Order 73-2010, R.A. 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 and other related policies.

8. Use of reusable or recyclable containers for volunteers’ beverages and foods.

“We hope that this year’s Brigada Eskwela will also pay greater attention to the establishment or restoration of materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in schools,” Vergara said.

MRFs, also known as “ecology centers,” are key components in the recycling and composting of discards as well as in the promotion of community hygiene and sanitation, according to the group.

EcoWaste Coalition members will participate in the Brigada Eskwela activities at Mabuhay Elementary School headed by principal Jean Tolentino in Barangay Mabuhay, Carmona, Cavite.

Together with Carmona’s Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, the EcoWaste Coalition will assist in the repainting of the school building’s exterior walls and in the installation of waste segregation bins in the school.