The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog, has called for a “people power” to cut the country’s mammoth “waste size” of nearly 13 million tons annually, close and rehabilitate over a thousand illegal dumpsites and put a stop to the filthy practice of littering.
At the same time, the group urged all Filipinos to heed its 25 “down-to-earth” garbage prevention and reduction tips called “25@25” in commemoration of the 25th year of the famed non-violent people’s action for change.
Citing information from the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the entire country generates some 35,000 tons of waste every day, of which 8,400 tons come from Metro Manila.
Of the yearly national waste generation of 12,775,000 tons, some 40 to 70 per cent are collected and thrown in 1,205 waste disposal facilities, of which 55 are “sanitary” landfills and 1,172 are open or controlled dumpsites long outlawed by Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
“Despite national and local laws prohibiting and penalizing littering and dumping, the unabashed trashing of our fragile environment persists,” lamented Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“People drop litter regardless of age, gender, education and social standing as if littering, a most evident environmental offense, is okay and acceptable,” he pointed out.
“By calling for a ‘people power’ against littering, the EcoWaste Coalition hopes that Filipinos, as one people, will reject this dirty habit and rally behind a ‘litter-free Pilipinas’ that we all can be proud of,” he said.
“We are not asking the people to come together en masse in EDSA or anywhere else. What we seek is a personal commitment from all patriotic Filipinos not to litter and to embrace a lifestyle that will treat our Mother Earth with love and respect,” he explained.
“This, we believe, is compatible with the theme of this year’s celebration: ‘Pilipino Ako, Ako Ang Lakas ng Pagbabago’ (I’m a Filipino, I’m the Force of Change),” he added.
“As the force of change, we, the people, can clear our surroundings of trash and get rid of dumpsites which are akin to gaping wounds that should be cleaned, sealed and healed,” he said.
To achieve a “litter-free Pilipinas,” Filipinos need to recognize dumping as a social ill that has to be dealt with head-on and exterminated, regard the habit as distasteful and totally unacceptable, and arrest the problem by enforcing R.A. 9003 in combination with information, education and other value-formation measures, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
“We hope that P-Noy himself will lead this movement for a ‘litter-free Pilipinas’ in line with his ‘Social Contract with the Filipino People’,” Alvarez said.
The “Social Contract” refers to the electoral platform of then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino that is supposed to represent “a commitment to change that Filipinos can depend on.”
“Our President has silenced abusive flashing sirens (wang-wang). We believe he can also rid the country of garbage and dumps,” he added.
To celebrate the 25th year of the People Power Revolution, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with “25@25” or 25 practical tips to prevent the creation of waste and to reduce the volume of waste created.
The ideas came from the Alaga Lahat, Ang NARS, Ayala Foundation, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Interface Development Interventions, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, Sining Yapak and Zero Waste Philippines.
25@25 Garbage Prevention and Reduction Tips:
1. Be a role model in green citizenship: reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose, segregate at source, recycle, compost and never litter. Commit to 3Rs and more to divert useful discards away from dumpsites, landfills, incinerators and cement kilns.
2. Discourage others from dropping or dumping trash; courteously explain how litter ruins the environment and damages public health and welfare.
3. Make it a habit to bring your own drinking water in a refillable water tumbler or jug.
4. For coffee drinkers, always bring your refillable coffee mug/tumbler.
5. Place your “baon” in recyclable food containers that can be washed and used again.
6. Don’t toss cigarette filters on the ground; work hard to quit smoking.
7. Carry a personal litter bag or hold on to your rubbish such as bus tickets, food wrappers and cigarette butts until you have found a bin.
8. Never throw litter out of cars; keep a litter bag in your vehicle to collect your trash until a bin is available.
9. Don’t spit or throw chewing gum on the ground and by no means stick it under a chair, bench or table.
10. Spit is litter, too; it’s unsightly and unsanitary, and could spread disease. Please don’t spit on streets, sidewalks, pavements or inside buses, movie houses, etc.
11. Pick up after your pets; stop dog fouling in streets and parks.
12. Don’t leave your discards out by the road for collection.
13. Don’t dispose hazardous waste such as mercury-containing lamps, batteries and thermometers in regular trash.
14. Be a smart consumer, small is beautiful and less is more. Say no to plastic bags, make eco-bags your lifetime companion and always keep reusable/foldable bags in your purse or pocket for your needs.
15. Plan your shopping day, pick eco-friendly products with the least packaging, and make sure you have a bayong or other reusable bags to carry the goods. Be firm on not buying anything when you don’t have your bag with you. This will also save you from impulse buying.
16. Avoid buying in plastic sachets and “tipid-packs,” buy in bulk as much as possible and choose items in reusable or recyclable containers.
17. Plan your menu for the week, and buy only perishable goods such as vegetables that you need for the week to avoid spoilage.
19. Bring empty ice cream or biscuit containers or small buckets when going to the market. You can use them for wet goods such as fish, poultry or meat before putting them into the basket or reusable bag.
20. Develop the habit of “no food and drink leftovers” during meals at home and elsewhere. Store leftovers in sealable glass or plastic containers and assign a “leftovers day” to consume them.
21. Support restaurants and food stalls that use reusable plates and utensils. Refrain from patronizing eateries that serve food in polystyrene containers.
22. Make it a practice to carry reusable food containers with you. This would come handy for take outs as well as leftovers from restaurants.
23. Shun drinking straws. Remind waiters not to give you one when you place your order and explain why. Drink straight from the bottle or use a cup instead.
24. Keep boxes of liquid milk, all-purpose cream, tomato sauce and similar items as containers to grow seedlings.
25. Refrain from consuming single-use, throw-away stuff and opt for reusable ones such as cloth table napkin and cover instead of disposable ones, handkerchief in place of tissues, native fans in lieu of plastic fans.
“We invite concerned citizens to add more to this list of practical waste prevention and reduction tips to suit their activities and needs and contribute to building a cleaner and greener nation that our children deserve,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.
Finally, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded citizens not to forget to exercise their legal right to sue erring national and local authorities as well as private and public citizens who refuse to comply with the requirements of R.A. 9003 and other related health and environmental laws.