Green Groups Campaign for Zero Waste Solutions to Lessen Ravages of Climate Change

Quezon City. In an audacious demonstration of solidarity and resolve, environmental advocates today vowed to redouble their efforts in pursuing sustainable consumption and Zero Waste solutions to help avert the climate crisis.

As the Filipino people come to grips with the deadly onslaught of storms, floods and landslides, the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the Miss Earth Foundation stepped up their common plea for increased resource conservation and decreased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through greener lifestyle changes and Zero Waste.

In a post-Ondoy and Pepeng community outreach, the groups in collaboration with barangay and school officials organized a creative event in Barangay Krus na Ligas in Quezon City to encourage the public to get rid of wasteful habits and consciously cut the amount of trash going to bins, waterways and dumpsites.

To emphasize the issue of wasting, the groups paraded a “lion waste monster,” a horrendous creature whose head and body were crafted mostly from plastic bags – the most obvious manifestation of the ever-increasing throw-away consumption culture that became more visible during the post-Ondoy cleanup challenge. The lion “danced” to the vigorous beat of drums made of recycled materials.

“The destructive back-to-back storms remind us that we can no longer live ‘business as usual.’ Our wasteful consumption patterns are heating up our planet in a fast pace. By adopting Zero Waste as part of our daily routine, we conserve our diminishing natural resource base and curb pollution from the high volume of trash sent to dumpsites or dumped into our rivers and seas,” said Gigie Cruz of GAIA, which spearheaded the event to mark the “Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration.”

“Composting our biodegradable discards, for instance, eliminates methane releases from dumpsites and landfills, while improving soil fertility and reducing demands for synthetic fertilizer and toxic pesticides,” she added. Methane has 72 times more global warming potential compared to carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

“It is time that we make drastic changes in our practices in response to what Mother Earth is telling us. We cannot afford another ‘Ondoy’ or ‘Pepeng’ just to tell us that we need to cut and manage our waste.

We should continue to help educate and empower our people to shift to more environmentally-sound alternatives and opt for greener choices now,” said Cathy Untalan, Executive Director, Miss Earth Foundation.

Together with Miss Earth 2008 Karla Henry, Miss Philippines Fire 2009 Patricia Marie Tumulak, Miss Philippines Water 2009 Catherine Loyola, Miss Philippines Air 2009 Michelle Martha Braun and Miss Philippines Earth 2009 runner-up Kirstie Joan Babor, the eco-queens likewise promoted a switch to “Wastong Nutrisyon” to avoid non-communicable diseases that are associated with diet-related lifestyle diseases.

For his part, actor Roy Alvarez of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee emphasized the need for all Filipinos to assume responsibility for their discards and live a waste-free lifestyle.

“We need everyone to take full responsibility in cutting our waste size to the minimum and in ensuring that our discards are ecologically managed and not merely thrown, dumped or burned. As stewards of Mother Nature, we all need to assume our role and duty to relate and care for the environment,” Alvarez said.

Following the parade, Mercy Sumilang of the Mother Earth Foundation, assisted by 10 “earth maidens and guardians,” facilitated a hands-on demonstration on the easy way of segregating discards into biodegradable, non-biodegradable and hazardous (also known as special waste) categories, and showed the audience the basic steps for successful household composting.

Zero Waste is the dynamic application of waste prevention, reduction, reuse, recycling and composting at any level – household, institutional, community and country – that has been shown to reduce GHG emissions from avoided disposal and from reduced demand for virgin materials.

According to GAIA’s fact sheet on “Zero Waste for Zero Warming,” Zero Waste is among the cheapest and most effective strategies to combat climate change since its application lessens the use of fossil fuel from materials extraction, production, consumption and disposal, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions from these activities, while saving the forests and mountains and safeguarding other essential life support systems.

For a healthier and safer lifestyle and environment, the EcoWaste Coalition, GAIA and the Miss Earth Foundation have come up with tips that can help in reducing not only the volume but also the toxicity of waste, such as refraining from using single-use disposable items, cutting back on plastic bags and switching to reusable carry bags, properly segregating discards for easier and cleaner recycling, composting biodegradable discards into soil nutrients, separating hazardous waste from regular household waste, and by not burning or dumping discards.

Also present in the event were the representatives of the Cavite Green Coalition, Earth Renewal Project, EARTH UST, Health Care Without Harm, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Sanib-Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod sa Inang Kalikasan and Sining Yapak.