18 May 2019, Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watch group, reminded participants of the week-long Brigada Eskwela starting May 20 to ensure that school cleanup, repair and renovation activities are done in an eco-friendly manner.
“We laud the yearly conduct of the DepEd-led Brigada Eskwela, which is an excellent expression of the timeless Filipino bayanihan spirit,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“As stakeholders partake in this outstanding voluntary effort, we urge them to avoid practices that tend to generate more trash and pollution such as mixed waste disposal, open burning and dumping, and the use of leaded paints and hazardous cleaning agents,” he said.
The group also asked poll winners, as well as losers, to “quietly” help in the Brigada Eskwela as a way of thanking the public for their support in the recently concluded midterm elections.
“In lieu of post-election ‘thank you’ tarpaulins, we invite well-meaning politicians to join, without fanfare, school cleanup activities or donate Brigada Eskwela essentials such as brooms and broomsticks, dust pans, rags, soaps, buckets, non-mercury LED lamps, and lead-safe paints,” Dizon said.
Dizon cited the need to observe DepEd D.O. 05, series of 2014, which states, among other provisions, that “every school shall practice waste management principles, such as (waste) minimization, specifically resource conservation and recovery, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, reuse and composting, in order to promote environmental awareness and action.”
To encourage adherence to the said DepEd regulation, the EcoWaste Coalition offered the following eco-tips, which are also in line with R.A. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act), R.A. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Act), R.A. 9211 (Tobacco Regulation Act), DENR A.O. 2013-24 (Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds), DILG Memorandum Circular 2018-26 (Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints by LGUs), DepEd D.O. 04-2017 (Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools) and DepEd D.O. 73-2010 (Smoking Ban in Public Schools):
- Observe the proper segregation of discards at source to facilitate their recycling or composting, and to minimize the volume of garbage for disposal.
- Do not set trash on fire to prevent the generation of environmental pollutants such as fine particles, heavy metals and dioxins.
- Compost biodegradable discards such as yard trimmings to produce natural fertilizer or soil enhancer for the school garden.
- Clean up the school’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), also known as Ecology Center, including the containers or segregators for properly-labeled recyclable and compostable discards.
- Handle busted fluorescent lamps with care to prevent mercury spill; do not mix such lamps with ordinary trash, and properly store and dispose of them as hazardous waste.
- Choose safer cleaning agents and refrain from using hazardous substances that are corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract such as oxalic and muriatic acid.
- Use only certified lead-safe paints for school interiors, exteriors, furniture and fixtures, gymnasium, play equipment and other school amenities.
- Keep children and pregnant women out of the work area (lead is very hazardous to developing fetuses).
- Refrain from dry sanding or dry scraping painted surfaces that might contain lead so as not to disperse lead dust into the surroundings.
- Clean up paint chips immediately.
- Use moist mop or rag to rid floors, windows, window frames and sills, chairs and tables and other surfaces of dust, and wash it thoroughly after use.
- Wash hands properly with soap and water before meals and after the work is done.
- After a repainting job, change clothes before going home, set aside in a sealed reusable bag and wash separately.
- Clean or remove shoes and slippers before entering your home to avoid bringing in soil that may contain lead into the house.
- Keep the school premises smoke-free by not smoking or vaping.
“The observance of these eco-tips will help ensure a waste-free and toxics-free Brigada Eskwela for the benefit of the entire school community and the environment,” Dizon said.