Group pushes ‘zero basura’ poll campaign

WITH the start of the election season last Sunday, an environmental watchdog dared all political contenders to campaign clean sans the infamous 4Gs of Philippine politics: guns, goons, gold and garbage.

Particularly setting their sights on garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition called on all political wannabes – from those running for local positions to those aspiring to become congressional and party list representatives and senators – to commit to “zero basura” election campaign.

“This early, we appeal to politicians across the political spectrum to restrain from engaging in dirty campaigning and to strive for an ecological  ‘zero basura’ outreach to the electorate.  We will call the attention of candidates who will campaign dirty,” said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Through ‘zero basura,’ we hope to prevent and reduce waste and pollution from the vigorous campaign operations and activities during the next three months and avert the further degradation of our fragile environment,” he said.

“We also hope that candidates will come up with meaningful platforms integrating sustainable solutions to the chronic garbage, toxic, disaster and livelihood woes facing many of our communities, and not only shake hands, hug babies, or sing and dance to amuse voters,” he added.

The group voiced its environmental plea ahead of the official campaign period of February 12 to May 11 for senatorial and party-list candidates, and March 29 to May 11 for those vying for congressional and elective regional, provincial, city and municipal posts.

To begin with, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends that all those aspiring for elective positions should designate a person or team in the campaign machinery who will be responsible for greening the electoral platforms, strategies and activities.

Candidates should refrain from using too much campaign materials such as leaflets, pamphlets, posters, stickers, decals, and plastic and tarpaulin streamers.

Propaganda materials should be in post-consumer recycled paper and carry a friendly reminder that says “para sa ating kalusugan at kalikasan, huwag pong ikalat, itambak o sunugin” or its equivalent in local languages.

Candidates should refrain from using campaign materials that are hardly reused or recycled such as confetti, buntings and balloons, which often get burned or discarded in waterways, seas and dumpsites.  Candidates and their supporters should not light sky lanterns as this may cause fire and endanger wildlife, too.

Trees don’t vote, politicos should spare the trees of propaganda materials that can harm and even kill them.  Candidates should reject graffiti or vandalism to popularize their names.

For litter-free campaign meetings, sorties and related activities, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following:

• Shun throwing confetti, exploding firecrackers or releasing balloons and sky lanterns in campaign events.

• Refrain from using Styrofoam, plastic bags and other single-use containers for volunteers’ meals and drinks.

• Set up segregated waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards in campaign assemblies.

• Designate “eco-volunteers” to look after the bins and guide the public in the proper separation of their discards.

• Clean up right after the campaign event.

• Hire eco-aides to handle the segregated wastes for recycling and composting

Win or lose, the EcoWaste Coalition urged candidates to remove election campaign materials from all sites immediately after the election day on 13 May 2013.

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