Green groups call for reduced holiday trash

IN RESPONSE to the unsightly piles of mixed garbage defiling the streets of Divisoria and other popular Christmas shopping hubs, Zero Waste advocates called on both the government and the public to strictly implement R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Among a long list of prohibited acts, R.A. 9003 forbids and penalizes the littering, dumping and burning of waste matters.

The EcoWaste Coalition, in partnership with the Office of Manila District II Councilor Numero Lim and Buklod Tao, today organized a creative action on waste prevention, reduction, segregation, reuse, recycling and composting along Recto Ave., near Abad Santos Ave., in Divisoria.

“Santa Bayong,” a Santa Claus donning a traditional basket of woven leaves greeted shoppers as over a dozen women proudly displayed their bayong and reusable cloth bags, subtly reminding the public of the the consumer power to trim down the holiday trash, or “holitrash,” by giving up plastic bags.

Also, joining “Santa Bayong” in campaigning against “holitrash” were women holding beautiful round native baskets marked with “Reduce,” ‘Reuse,” “Recycle” and “Respect” reminders for an eco-simple Christmas.

The ongoing Christmas shopping bonanza, as well as the blast of parties and social gatherings, has boosted public consumption, consequently resulting to an upsurge in the quantity of discards. These discards go to waste if not properly segregated at source as some of these discards may still be reused and recycled, the environmentalists noted.

During the event, EcoWaste representatives also demonstrated proper waste segregation and offered tips on how to safely manage discards at home.

“The celebration of Christmas is no excuse to the massive trashing of our environment. Our fond remembrance of the redeemer’s birth should be done in a respectful way that will protect, not degrade and ruin, our fragile environment,” said Coun. Numero Lim.

“I specifically urge vendors and shoppers not to litter the premises of Divisoria. Divisoria is a shopping place, not a dumpsite,” added Lim, one of the principal authors of Manila City Ordinance 8282 banning the use of plastic bags for dry goods and regulating their use for wet goods.

Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “Let it not be said that Christmas, a special season to celebrate and share the light of love, has become a festival of litterbugs.”

“We appeal to the heart and conscience of every Filipino to treat our environment with care such as by not wasting and dirtying our surroundings,” she said.

Vergara likewise called on the entire government machinery – from the National Solid Waste Management Commission down to the Barangay Councils – to strictly enforce R.A. 9003 and related laws and measures to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

For her part, Mother Earth Foundation Chairman Sonia Mendoza persuaded the public to halt the “plasticization” of Christmas, or the unbridled use of plastic bags when shopping.

“By using reusable bags and containers, we limit the demand for plastic packaging, which contribute a sizable amount to Metro Manila’s waste generation.”

As per government data, one fourth of Metro Manila’s waste production of up to 8,600 tons daily is plastic (25%), while food and organic discards comprise 50%, paper 12%, metals 5%, glass 3%, hazardous waste 1%, and residual waste 4%.

“During these times when plastic consumption is enhanced by holiday consumerism, let us try to find ways to negate this destructive reality before it devastates us again,” Mendoza said, alluding to the adverse effects of the careless use and disposal of plastic bags as witnessed by the nation during typhoon Ondoy and the string of extreme weather disturbances after it.

In the course of the event, Lim announced that Manila City Ordinance 8282 was signed and approved on September 3, 2012 and that the ban on the use of any form of plastic bags on dry goods and regulating its use on wet goods will take effect one year later.

The said ordinance also prohibits the use of polystyrene and similar materials as containers for food and other products.

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