Thursday, November 4, 2010

Eco group gives tips on keeping All Souls' Day 'trash-free'

With just a week to go before millions of Filipinos flock to
cemeteries on All Souls' Day, an ecological group appealed to the
public to keep cemeteries and surrounding communities "trash-free."

EcoWaste Coalition said keeping cemeteries and surroundings
garbage-free is a way of honoring the dearly departed.

“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 ... Let us respect the
dead and not desecrate the cemeteries with trash," EcoWaste president
Roy Alvarez said on the group’s blog site.

“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.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. supported the call to think
about the welfare of the living when remembering the dead.

“Please cut back on garbage, noise and air pollution for a healthier
environment for all," said Iñiguez, who also heads the Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ public affairs unit.

EcoWaste Coalition came up with practical suggestions for cemetery
administrators, entrepreneurs and the general public.

For the general public, EcoWaste issued these reminders:

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.
Light 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.

7. Go for waste-free meals. YES to reusable carriers, containers and
utensils such as lunchboxes and thermos, cloth napkins and
silverwares. 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

For cemetery administrators:

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.

For ambulant vendors and owners of fast food stalls and shops:

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.

All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day, November 2, is a Catholic feast day for remembering the dead.

However, millions of Filipinos start flocking to cemeteries as early
as November 1, All Saints' Day, also a Catholic feast for honoring all
saints, both those who are known and the unknown.


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