“Waste-Free, Toxic-Free” Brigada Eskwela in Payatas School Draws Throng of Supporters

School officials, teachers and students, community residents, and environmental advocates have joined forces to support the cleanup and renovation of Payatas C Elementary School in Quezon City.

The Commonwealth Elementary School (Metro Manila’s grand slam winner for the 2013 search for sustainable and eco-friendly school for elementary level) and the EcoWaste Coalition (an environmental network) have adopted Payatas C Elementary School as partner for this year’s Brigada Eskwela.

At the festive launch of the “waste-free, toxic-free” Brigada Eskwela, principal Rosemarie V. Salvador warmly welcomed all volunteers from near and afar who came to lend a hand in the school cleanup and repair.

She drew attention to “bayanihan,” the time-honored spirit of communal unity and action that the annual Brigada Eskwela seeks to rekindle, as vital to making schools conducive for children’s learning, growth and development.

Speaking on behalf of the environmental volunteers, Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, underscored the advantage of “waste-free, toxic free” clean up and renovation activities, especially to children’s health.

“By steering clear of practices that squander resources, create trash and pollute the environs with toxins, we make our schools a safe and healthy place for young children to study, grow and have fun as well,” she said.

“Children are very susceptible to all forms of contaminants in the surroundings, particularly lead dust, hence the need to employ environmentally-sound practices during the cleanup,” she added.

Joining the delegation of the EcoWaste Coalition were volunteers from the Alyansa ng Mamamayan sa Payatas – Sanlakas (a local community organization) and the Payatas Alliance Multi-Purpose Cooperative (an association of waste pickers) and other concerned groups and individuals.

Armed with rags, broomsticks and dustpans, paint brushes and rollers, nails and hammers and alternative cleaning agents such as baking soda and vinegar, the Brigada Eskwela volunteers gaily did their chores amid the scorching heat.

Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. provided cans of lead safe paints that the EcoWaste Coalition used to paint classroom walls, furniture and fixture.