EcoWaste Coalition calls for waste-free Brigada Eskwela

Quezon City. With the
next school year just around the corner and public schools get ready for the
Brigada Eskwela next week, zero waste advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition
appeals to make the weeklong national schools maintenance event waste-free. 
“We call on every participant
to this weeklong occasion of bringing to life the Filipino bayanihan spirit in cleaning-up and beautifying our public schools
for the next school year to make the event green and waste-free,” said Christina
Vergara, Zero Waste Program Officer of EcoWaste Coalition.
“Sad to say though, we have
witnessed in the past how major prohibitions of the Ecological Solid Waste Management
Act of 2000 or Republic Act 9003, such as on open burning and on mixing  of wastes, have been violated during the
Brigada Eskwela,” she stressed.
“Zero waste, for a fact, fits
well this major initiative of the Department of Education (DepEd) and so we
hope that cooperating entities will be aware that the occasion is not only
about taking trash away from schools and putting new paints on structures,” she
“Rather, we see the Brigada
Eskwela as an effort to realize the mandates of RA 9003 in the school
communities, segregating at source, composting, reusing, and recyling,” she
said firmly.
As guidance to Brigada Eskwela
organizers and participants, EcoWaste Coalition itemized the following tips to
make the event waste-free:
  1. Separate biodegradable from non-biodegradable discards.
  2. Compost biodegradable materials, such as grass cuttings, leaves,
    and twigs.
  3. Reuse whatever discards that can still be reused, such as turn
    large-enough tin cans or plastic containers into plant pots.
  4. Sell to junkshops recyclable throw-outs, such as papers, cartons,
    tin cans, bottles, and metals.
  5. Store reusable discards for possible future use, such as for art
    materials in school projects.
  6. Do not burn trash.
  7. Do not dump mixed garbage anywhere inside, not even outside, the
    school premises.
  8. Use reusable or recyclable containers for volunteers’ meals and
  9. In painting activities, do not  use leaded paints to prevent unnecessary
    exposure of participants and incoming students to the hazardous impacts of
    lead to health.
  10. Observe proper painting procedures to prevent the spread of leaded
    dust in the surroundings.
  11. Use eco- and health-friendly cleaning agents, like vinegar and
    baking soda, or just plain soap and water, avoiding hazardous ones like muriatic
    and Oxalic acid.
  12. Handle and store safely all busted mercury-containing fluorescent
    lamps and other “special wastes.” Contact manufacturers or concerned
    government agencies for assistance in environmentally-sound disposal of such
  13. Observe “no smoking policy” as embodied by DepEd Order 73-2010,
    R.A. 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 and other related
    policies. This will prevent not only the resulting cigarette butt
    wastes and air pollution, but also exposure to related health hazards.
EcoWaste Coalition defines zero waste and waste-free
not to mean only trash-free, but rather to mean without wastage. The coalition
maintained that zero waste encompasses even issues related to toxics, as these
results to wastage of our most important resources: human and environmental
During the Brigada Eskwela next week, the coalition
will adopt a school to prove their point well.
DepEd scheduled the actual school maintenance and
clean-up activities from 18 to 23 of May, expecting the “festive coming together of students,
teachers, school officials, parents, community members, local government officials,
non-government organizations, church groups and the private sector”, as the
Brigada Eskwela Manual puts it, to physically prepare all public schools
nationwide for the coming school year.