Forget not the lessons of Ondoy: go reusable this Christmas

Quezon City. For the sake of Mother Earth, please bring your own reusable bag and keep in mind the lessons of Ondoy’s epic flood.

Film actress Chin-Chin Gutierrez and the EcoWaste Coalition together aired this plea as the entire nation goes on a holiday shopping frenzy in preparation for Christmas and the New Year.

“The poignant image of plastic bags hanging in fences, trees, street signs and lamp posts after the tragic flood should remain etched in our minds if only to remind us of the detrimental effects of
unrestrained use of single-use plastic bags,” said actress Chin-Chin Gutierrez, President of Alaga Lahat and a member of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee..

“Ondoy has taught us that throw-away culture that is fast becoming the norm in our consumerist society is out of place in a finite planet, which is now trying to cope with the climate crisis,” she stated.

“We invite Filipino consumers to cut down on excessive shopping and only to shop for holiday essentials with reusable carry bags in keeping with the lessons of Ondoy. Let this gift of sustainability be our gift to Mother Earth and to future generations,” Gutierrez said.

Shifting to eco-friendly reusable bags, according to Alaga Lahat and the EcoWaste Coalition, is “one simple act” that caring consumers can do to save the climate and the seas from plastic pollution.

“A switch to reusable bags is a simple act that can minimize the use of fossil fuels that is driving climate change, while cutting the volume of bags sent to dumpsites or dumped into the seas,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out..

“We need not wait for plastic bags to be banned or for plastic levy to be imposed. We can, on our own initiative, do the switch to bayong and other reusable carry bags for a healthier future,” he said.

Citing local and international studies, the groups pointed at plastic bags as the top litter that has been clogging sewers and rivers, and damaging the marine ecosystems.

A plastic discards survey by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace in 2006 revealed that plastic bags comprised 51% of the rubbish floating in Manila Bay.

Another study by Ocean Conservancy released in 2009 showed that 679,957 out of the 1,235,163 marine debris of various categories that were collected in coastal areas of the country were plastic bags.

A government-commissioned study in 2003 showed an average 25% plastic discards in solid waste generated in Metro Manila., which produces some 5,000 to 6,000 tons of trash per day during the Christmas season.

To cut the consumption of plastic bags towards a greener Christmas, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with some practical suggestions:

1. Reduce purchases by avoiding impulsive buying and really thinking hard before procuring anything.

2. Get a bayong or sew your own reusable bag from fabric scraps, rice and flour sacks or from old clothes and jeans.

3. Keep a reusable bag in your backpack and in your bicycle or car to ensure you have one when needed.

4. Choose products that have the least amount of packaging and pick those using recycled materials.

5. Simply say no to plastic bags and .make this message known to vendors and retailers.

“Consumers can use their purchasing power to hammer the message that plastic bags are not okay. By breaking the plastic bag habit, we do a great service to Mother Earth and promote ecological consumerism one transaction at a time,” Calonzo said.