Friday, October 22, 2010

EcoWaste Coalition calls on the public not to trash the cemeteries

A waste and pollution watchdog has called on
the public to observe the upcoming All Saints’/All Souls’ Days in a
manner that will truly honor the dead by keeping the cemeteries and
surrounding communities trash-free.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of more than 100
groups, made the timely appeal as Catholic Filipinos make ready to
visit the cemeteries in huge numbers to pay respect to departed
relatives and friends.

“The beautiful tradition of remembering the dead has become a huge
garbage challenge with the supposedly hallowed burial sites instantly
turning into dumpsites by insensitive visitors,” observed Roy Alvarez,
President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Let us respect the dead and not desecrate the cemeteries with trash,”
he pleaded .

“The fragile state of the earth’s climate should rouse us into
simplifying our rituals and make do with less candles, flowers, meals
and definitely less plastic disposables,” he added.

“Through a waste-free ‘Undas,’ we also curb the climate impact of our
memorial day for the dead, increase the recovery and recycling of
resources and lessen the amount of trash going into the dumpsites,” he

The drive for an eco-friendly “Undas” has earned the backing of a
Catholic Church leader.

“We join the EcoWaste Coalition in exhorting the faithful to think
about the environment of the living when remembering our dearly
departed,” stated Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr.

“Please cut back on garbage, noise and air pollution for a healthier
environment for all,” Bishop Iñiguez, who also heads the Public
Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the
Philippines, said.

To guide the public in observing an eco-friendly “Undas,” the EcoWaste
Coalition has come up with practical suggestions for cemetery
administrators, entrepreneurs and the general public.

Among those who provided suggestions were Bishop Deogracias S.
Iñiguez, Jr., Franciscan priest Father Pete Montallana, statesman
ex-Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. and environmental leaders from Buklod
Tao, Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental
Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Mother
Earth Foundation, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society and the
EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat.

I. For cemetery administrators, the Ecowaste Coalition suggests the following:

1. Carry out a recycling program within their sites, including the
possibility of engaging the service of waste pickers in adjacent

2. Put up “recycling stations” (at the minimum two separate bins for
biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards), especially in high
traffic areas (entrances, exits, toilets, vendor areas etc.).

3. Hang cloth banners in strategic spots to announce that the cemetery
is a “waste-free zone” and that everyone is enjoined not to litter,
dump or set discards, including grass clippings, ablaze.

4. Integrate the ecological management of discards in catering and
vendor rules and regulations, including essential waste prevention and
reduction requisites.

5. Orient and require other potential waste generators such as the
accredited volunteer support groups to abide by the cemetery waste

6. Make use of the public address system to politely inform and
persuade all to support the cemetery’s effort to avoid and cut trash.

II. For ambulant merchants, fastfood stalls and other business shops,
the EcoWaste Coalition proposes the following:

1. Refrain from giving away plastic disposables such as bags, straws,
cups and other single-use plastic items. Hand them out only upon

2. Serve food and beverage in reusable glasses and mugs, plates and cutlery.

3. Courteously show your customers where to put their discards for
recycling or disposal.

4. Bring your own trash bags or bins, avoid them from overflowing, and
keep your areas clean at all times.

5. Make a final sweep of your assigned spaces, ensuring that all trash
has been properly removed.

III. For the general public, the Ecowaste Coalition makes the
following suggestions:

1---> Clean the tombs of your departed ones without causing pollution,
for example, from the burning of grass and plant cuttings and garbage

2---> Walk, bike, carpool or take the public transportation to the cemeteries.

3---> Select clean-burning candles that do not yield black fumes or
ash. Lit a reasonable number only to minimize heat and pollution. Do
not let candles’ plastic receptacles or holders to burn.

4---> Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, or consider
bringing potted plants and flowers instead. Simple, inexpensive
flowers will do. Avoid wrapping floral or plant offerings in plastic,
which will sooner or later end up as trash.

5---> Don’t play loud music, tone down noise in the cemetery and help
make the place conducive for prayers and for family bonding, too.

6---> Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water.
Please watch “The Story of Bottled Water” to find out why:

7---> Go for waste-free meals. YES to reusable carriers, containers
and utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and
silverware. NO to throw-away bags, wraps, foil or Styrofoam, paper
napkins, and forks and spoons.

Also, refrain from patronizing junkfood and go for simple yet
nutritious home-prepared “baon.”

8---> Buy less or only as much as you know you will consume for items
such as food and beverage. Bring “bayong” or other reusable bags to
carry your stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers
from vendors.

9---> Cut your waste size by not creating trash in the first place
such as by purchasing products with the least amount of packaging and
avoiding single-use plastic disposables.

10---> Take full responsibility for your discards. Put them into the
recycling bins and never litter. Better still, bring your own discards
bags and bring them home for sorting, reusing, recycling or
composting. Remember to leave the resting places of your loved ones

Buklod Tao, a member group of the EcoWaste Coalition, has kindly
offered to receive used Undas flowers and leaves for shredding in
their facility. They will also accept discarded fruit juice doi packs
that community members will recycle into bags and other functional
items. Buklod Tao is located at 7 Dama de Noche, Barangay Banaba, San
Mateo, Rizal.


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