Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On eve of ‘Ondoy’ anniv, Pinoys stage coastal cleanup

On the eve of the tragedy brought by tropical cyclone “Ondoy"
(Ketsana), government officials and volunteers held coastal cleanups
at Manila Bay to stress the need to protect the environment.

Radio dzBB’s Denver Trinidad reported environment officials, students,
volunteers and non-government organizations joined cleanups in Cavite
province, Roxas Boulevard and Pasay City.

In Cavite, participants gathered at the reclaimed area near the
Coastal Road Extension in Bacoor to clean up the coast.

Before the start of the activity, Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado called for
genuine change to solve environmental woes.

Similar environmental activities were held at the Mall of Asia area in
Pasay City and along Roxas Boulevard.

Meanwhile, environmental group EcoWaste Coalition renewed its drive
against plastic bags and "environmentally harmful" practices,
reminding Filipino consumers to shun the “throw-away" culture to
restore ecological balance and health.

“Typhoon Ondoy taught us in a deeply painful and costly way that
practices which defile and destroy the ecosystems have no place in our
fragile planet and should stop," EcoWaste president Roy Alvarez said
on the group's blog site.

“Our addiction to plastic bags and to everything that is disposable
has exacerbated the effects of the epic flood and made the post-Ondoy
cleanup most difficult," he added.

On September 26 last year, Ondoy dumped floodwaters in several parts
of Metro Manila, killing scores of residents and leaving others

EcoWaste and allied groups pushed concerted action to curb crass
consumerism practices, such as the "thoughtless" use and disposal of
plastic bags and other single-use packaging materials.

Alvarez said switching from disposable plastic bags to reusable bags
and containers can dramatically cut waste size, and clean out our
waterways and dumpsites.

The group recommended the use of practical reusable alternatives to
plastic bags, including the “bayong" (traditional market bag) and
other baskets made of biodegradable plant materials such as anahaw,
bamboo, buri, coconut, isay, kalagimay, nipa, rattan and water lily.

Consumers can buy or even design and sew their own reusable bags from
used materials such as rice sacks, flour bags, old curtains and worn
out clothes, it added.

“In remembrance of all the people who perished and suffered from the
onslaught of Ondoy, we appeal to all Filipinos, consumers and
retailers alike, to break the plastic habit and embrace a plastic
bag-free and Zero Waste lifestyle," said Gigie Cruz of the Global
Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a member of EcoWaste's Task
Force on Plastic.

“We further ask the authorities to act now on our petition to forbid
single-use plastic bags and not wait for the next Ondoy to strike,"
she added.

In June 2009, over 100 groups and individuals signed a petition asking
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the
National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to declare a
unilateral phase out of “thin film single use plastic bags to stop the
plastic invasion of the environment."

The petition initiated by EcoWaste followed the plea by Dr. Achim
Steiner, Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme,
to phase out or ban “thin film single use plastic bags which choke
marine life."

According to the petition, the much-sought action against plastic bags
will have direct and meaningful environmental, climate, economic and
cultural benefits.

These benefits will include:

- Protection of the coral reefs and all marine animals from plastic litter;

- Reduction in the release of greenhouse gases, persistent organic
pollutants (POPs) and other harmful chemicals associated with the
production, consumption and disposal of plastic bags; and

- Reversal of the “plasticization" of our lifestyle with the increased
promotion and adoption of eco-friendly and non-toxic choices.

A survey jointly conducted by EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace
volunteers in 2006 revealed that plastic bags and other synthetic
packaging materials comprised 76 percent of the four cubic meters of
garbage retrieved from Manila Bay.

Out of the 76 percent, 51 percent were plastic carry bags, 19 percent
junk food wrappers and sachets, 5 percent Styrofoams and one percent
hard plastics. The rest of the recovered trash was rubber 10 percent,
and biodegradable wastes 13 percent.


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