Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Here's hopping for the best in the Year of the Rabbit

On Feb. 3, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Rabbit comes hopping in as the Tiger snarls one last time as it claws its way out of the scene. So, for those who have not made their New Year’s resolutions (and intend to keep them, too), there’s still time. Hare’s looking at 2011! For starters, we hope to see more food on the table of every hardworking Pinoy family. We hope to see more families having access to more than just the basic necessities of living. We hope to see more children of impoverished families going to school. We hope to see more doctors in the remotest barrios of the Philippines. We hope we don’t see anymore those hazardous ingredients in the products (whether they’re food, cosmetics, shampoo, detergent, dishware, milk bottles, toys, etc.) we buy on the local market. We hope to see more efficient public utility services, like water, electricity, public transport, and communication. We hope to see better garbage collection not just during Christmas when the garbage collectors come knocking at your gate bearing a white envelope and not-so-happy tidings.

We hope to see less traffic — or better traffic management — on the perpetually congested streets of Metro Manila. We hope for the day when corrupt traffic policemen would be a thing of the past.

We hope for world peace and goodwill among men.

As for American author and father Brett Battles, he hopes “more families would consider adoption not as a last option but as part of their plan from the beginning.” Battles himself has an adopted daughter whom he lifted out of a crib in Vietnam when she was just a few days old. He says she has since enriched his family’s life beyond anything he expected.

Of course, if you’re thinking of adopting, you don’t have to look far. For instance, in Little Baguio in Baliwag, Bulacan (telephone/fax 044-766-4977), there’s a little place called House of Bethlehem that’s teeming with infants longing for the warmth of home and the love of adoptive parents.

Meanwhile, as we enter into the second decade of the new millennium, there are a lot of things babies born in 2011 will no longer see when they grow up, so writes Stacy Johnson in MoneyTalksNews.com. Stacy lists the things these kids will no longer see (or would have become extinct in their time). Like your good old trusty (sometimes rusty) watch — who needs to wear one on his/her wrist when there’s the smartphone to keep you in tune to every tick of the clock? Who needs the digicam/video when you have that little pocket computer that can do all these big things? And who needs catalogs, fax machines, the yellow and white pages (I haven’t really seen one in ages) when there’s e-mail, pdf, etc.? Soon, you will have to go to a museum to find a paper map. Everybody will have an e-mail-equipped computer in his pocket and a dial-up Internet. Collective knowledge is now available on the computer so that there are no more long-lost or long-forgotten friends — and no more excuses not to keep in touch.

But in the midst of all this technological razzmatazz, it’s still in to be green, according to The EcoWaste Coalition, which has put together its “Green Wishes for 2011,” from concerned zero waste, chemical safety, climate action, and justice advocates in the country. These avid green campaigners include the Alaga Lahat, Ayala Foundation, Cavite Green Coalition, Cycling Residents of Industrial Valley, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, Sining Yapak, Zero Waste Philippines, the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat, and Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez Jr. of the Diocese of Kalookan.

An informal survey conducted via e-mail and text (SMS) called on all citizens, political leaders, and captains of industry to make positive changes in lifestyle practices, product designs, and governmental policies in order to benefit the environment as well as society at large.

In one voice, the respondents hoped that Filipinos would switch to a greener, more earth-friendly lifestyle, and sent out suggestions for waste and toxic reduction, and low carbon living in the changing global climate.

Specifically, the respondents sent this message to P-Noy: Launch a presidential crusade to protect vulnerable subpopulations, particularly children, from reproductive, developmental and immune system toxins in common consumer products.

“It is our hope that the wishes expressed by our members will be heard and acted upon by P-Noy and everyone concerned,” says Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition. “Let’s welcome a fresh decade by effecting positive changes for the good of the country and our people.”

Green Wishes For Juan And Juana De La Cruz

• That all families in both rural and urban barangays could have access to clean air, safe drinking water, and healthful food.
• That everyone would embrace the basic 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) of sustainable living and add a few more essential Rs: respect for human rights — for a more caring existence.

• That all litterbugs would finally drop their dirty habits and that our streets, vacant lots, beaches, rivers, and the country as a whole would finally become a litter-free Pilipinas that we can be proud of.

• That consumers would become more aware of the importance of using reusable bags instead of plastic bags, and that they would say no to disposable containers and packaging in general.

• That simple, zero waste, and zero toxic celebrations of Christmas, New Year, and other popular festivities, including the Feast of the Black Nazarene that draws droves of devotees, would begin in 2011 and continue for many more years to come.

• That all citizens would duly recognize the role of the informal recycling sector in materials recovery and conservation, and in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

• That we all do our part in helping to stabilize Mother Earth’s temperature by conserving energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels such as gasoline, oil, and coal, and switching to renewable energy alternatives whenever possible.

• That citizens would cultivate more trees and plants, and set up food gardens and take good care of them.

• That more Filipinos would go vegetarian in 2011 and spread the many benefits of a plant-based diet sans genetically modified organisms and harmful chemicals.

• That more people would join the environmental movement and take action to defend Mother Nature from apathy, greed, and destruction.

Green Wishes For Businesses And Industries

• That the manufacturing industry would adopt concrete steps to reduce packaging waste on their own volition.

• That manufacturers, especially of consumer products that are not easy and safe to recycle or dispose, would take full responsibility for their products from “cradle-to-cradle.”

• That manufacturers using plastic sachets and wrappers embark on pilot bulk and tingi selling programs sans single-use packaging.

• That all restaurants and fast-food chains would implement a “No styrofoam” and “No plastic utensils” policy.

• That all toys and products geared towards children and other susceptible groups be made without hazardous, toxic or poisonous substances such as mercury, lead, cadmium, phthalates, brominated flame retardants, and bisphenol A.

• That commercial and industrial owners of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste oils and contaminated materials would ensure their safe destruction at the soon-to-operate non-combustion facility in Bataan.

• That big business would learn to prioritize conservation and ecological integrity and put a halt to unsustainable projects such as coal operation and mining.

Green Wishes For Local Authorities

• That municipal and city councils would promote and maintain bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets, especially in urban hubs.

• That the public would be afforded more environment-friendly mass transportation options in order to reduce the number of cars with single occupants on the road.

• That local enforcers would succeed in removing smoke- belching vehicles from the roads and in regulating roadside parking to ease traffic congestion.

• That local authorities would embark on and support more livelihood programs that could magnify and sustain environmental advocacies.

• That the practice of nailing or hanging commercial, political, and public service advertisements on trees would no longer be tolerated and would finally be stopped.

• That concerned government units would put in place a functional system for collecting and managing hazardous waste from households and other sources.

• That illegal dumpsites and other polluting waste disposal facilities would become things of the past.

• That more local governments, commercial establishments, and schools would adopt and implement zero waste policies and programs.

Green Wishes For National Government Agencies

• That the National Solid Waste Management Commission would adopt a long-awaited policy on single-use plastic bags, taking its cue from those enacted by local government units (LGUs) that have started phasing out and banning these highly-polluting products.

• That the Department of Environment and Natural Resources would recall its policy allowing the incineration of certain types of municipal and hazardous waste in cement kilns and that the agency would faithfully enforce the ban on incinerators, including ”waste-to-energy” schemes.

• That the Department of Tourism’s planned makeovers of Manila’s parks, especially those catering to young children, would only use certified lead-free paints.

• That the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority would ensure the removal of all endosulfan stocks in the country — including the 10 metric tons of this highly hazardous pesticide that were retrieved from the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars — before an impending global ban takes effect under the Stockholm Convention.

• That the Department of Agriculture would make 2011 a banner year for promoting natural and organic farming methods as solutions to food safety and security and climate change issues.

• That the Department of Energy project on making producers of mercury-containing CFL lamps responsible for their products after their life cycles be completed and implemented.

• That the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources take firm action against manufacturers and retailers of unregistered and unlabelled silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances.

• That the Food and Drug Administration succeed in eliminating mercury-tainted personal care products in the marketplace and heed the call for a Safe Cosmetics Summit involving all stakeholders.

Green Wishes For P-Noy

• That P-Noy would initiate a participatory review of the enforcement of the country’s major environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Renewable Energy Act, and many others which were enacted to promote environmental health, integrity, and sustainability.

• That P-Noy would finally acknowledge and act on the Citizens’ Agenda for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety document that the EcoWaste Coalition delivered to Times St. prior to his inauguration.

• That P-Noy, being a loving uncle to his nephews and nieces, would take on and lead a presidential crusade that would protect Filipino children from harmful substances such as reproductive, developmental, and immune system toxicants which abound in childcare items, toys, school supplies, and related products.

• That P-Noy would review his responses to the EcoWaste Coalition-Greenpeace pre-election presidential survey in which he divulged his plan to address the climate change vulnerabilities of specific sectors and areas by drawing up “detailed local and communty-based action frameworks for adaptation.” At the time, he promised to focus not only on “rescue, recovery, and rehabilitation,” but on “research, risk management, and restoration of damaged communities.”

• That P-Noy would join the rest of the world in pushing G8 countries to recognize their historical obligations towards ameliorating climate change, and that the G8 would finally take concrete action and adopt low carbon economies.

So goes our green wish list for 2011. But remember, if somebody fouls up, don’t Rabbit in.

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