Friday, October 22, 2010

Some grave reminders for All Saints' Day

You’d be committing a grave mistake if you didn’t heed this dead
serious warning from concerned souls, what with All Saints’ Day just
around the proverbial corner. If you truly want to honor the dead —
and show respect for our dearly departed — you should keep our
cemeteries and surrounding communities trash-free, say our pollution

This timely appeal was aired by the EcoWaste Coalition, an
environmental network of more than 100 groups, with the nationwide
celebrations of All Saints’/All Souls’ Days expected to draw the usual
hordes of people to the cemeteries and columbaries.

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

He pleads, “Let us respect the dead and not desecrate the cemeteries
with trash.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.”

Let us pray for our dead and let us have an eco-friendly and
waste-free Undas, to curb the impact of climate change, one of the
pressing realities of modern living. “To increase the recovery and
recycling of resources, and lessen the amount of trash going into the
dumpsites,” Alvarez points out.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. says amen to that. “Please cut
back on garbage, noise and air pollution for a healthier environment
for all,” exhorts the good bishop who heads the Public Affairs
Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

For a truly meaningful Undas celebration that cares for the dead and
the environment, here are some very down-to-earth tips from Bishop
Deogracias Iñiguez Jr., Franciscan priest Fr. Pete Montallana,
ex-Senator 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.

For cemetery administrators

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

• 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.).

• 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.

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

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

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

For ambulant merchants, fastfood stalls, and other business shops

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

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

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

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

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

For the general public

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

• Walk, bike, carpool or take the public transportation to the cemeteries.

• 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.

• 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.

• Don’t play loud music, tone down noise in the cemetery, and help
make the place conducive to prayers and to family bonding, too.

• Bring your own water jug to avoid purchasing bottled water. Please
watch The Story of Bottled Water to find out why:

• Go for waste-free meals. Say yes to reusable carriers, containers,
and utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and
silverwares. Say no to throw-away bags, wraps, foil or Styrofoam,
paper napkins, and forks and spoons. Also, refrain from patronizing
junk food and go for simple yet nutritious home-prepared baon.

• Buy less or only as much as you know you will consume in terms of
food and beverage. Bring bayong or other reusable bags to carry your
stuff and purchases, and refuse plastic bags and wrappers from

• 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.

• 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

The good news is 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 doy packs that community members can recycle into bags and other
functional items. Buklod Tao is located at 7 Dama de Noche, Barangay
Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal. Now, we know where to take our wastes the
mourning after.

And may we take our rest (from trash) in peace now and forever.


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