The single-use plastic banderitas adorning the streets of Tondo in celebration of the feast of Santo Niño tomorrow are not in sync with the government’s plan to clean up Manila and rehabilitate the highly polluted Manila Bay.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, made this observation after visiting last Wednesday and Friday the immediate vicinity of the Santo Niño de Tondo Church and finding the streets and alleys excessively decorated with plastic buntings as if there was no tomorrow.
“We are appalled by the extreme use of plastic bags, plastic strips, plastic packaging scraps and plastic product advertisements as fiesta banderitas as if the 1,175 tons of garbage that Manila churns out daily is not yet enough,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“These banderitas are basura in the making. After the festivities this Sunday, the banderitas will be taken down and transported by barge, along with other post-fiesta discards, to the Navotas Sanitary Landfill, the dumping ground for Manila’s garbage,” he said.
Alejandre pointed out that “reckless wasting as manifested by the banderitas hanging on every street and alley of Tondo goes against the moves to clean up Manila and reduce the city’s huge waste production.”
“Some of these banderitas may end up as street litter or blown away to the sea while being hauled to the loading station at Pier 18 and onto the landfill near Manila Bay,” he said.
The EcoWaste Coalition urged city, barangay and church officials to act decisively against the unnecessary hanging and irresponsible disposal of plastic banderitas that are simply thrown away after the fiesta.
“We can easily do away with wasteful banderitas as these are not crucial to the good conduct of any community celebration,” Alejandre said.
The group also suggested that May 2019 poll candidates should stop politicizing faith-based activities with hollow “happy fiesta” banners and other campaign materials.
“These ‘happy fiesta’ tarpaulins only add to the street clutter, as well as garbage. We urge our well-meaning political aspirants to be always mindful of the environmental impact of their campaigning activities,” Alejandre said.
The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that “the true essence of our time-honored festive celebrations does not rely on the length and color of plastic buntings crisscrossing our streets, but on how we relight our faith and share our community blessings through the fiesta.”
In lieu of wasteful banderitas and banners, the group suggested that funds for these non-essentials be spent for public information drive towards waste prevention and reduction, which can improve people’s live and protect public health and the environment.