Wednesday, February 23, 2011

People power: The litter and spirit of the law

As the country marks the 25th anniversary of the People Power Revolution on Friday, Feb. 25, a waste and pollution watchdog is holding its own uprising as it calls for a litter-free Pilipinas. Well, it’s a red-litter day for these environmental advocates.

Wasting no time, the EcoWaste Coalition is pushing for a collective action that would put a stop to the filthy — and unhealthy — practice of dumping trash anywhere, anytime. We’re talking garbage here, tons and tons of it!

Roy Alvarez, EcoWaste Coalition president, sadly notes, “Despite national and local laws prohibiting and penalizing littering, the unabashed trashing of our fragile environment by litterbugs persists. People — regardless of age, gender, education, and social standing — drop litter as if it’s okay and acceptable.”

But before you go rushing to EDSA and start waving placards against trash, Alvarez elaborates, “We are not asking for people to come together en masse on EDSA or anywhere else. What we seek is a personal commitment from all patriotic Filipinos not to litter and to embrace a lifestyle that will treat our Mother Earth with love and respect. This, we believe, is compatible with the theme of this year’s celebration: Pilipino Ako, Ako Ang Lakas ng Pagbabago (I’m a Filipino, I’m the Force of Change).

Now, how can we, as Filipinos, be a force of change?

“As the force of change, we can clear our surroundings of trash and get rid of dumpsites which are akin to gaping wounds that should be cleaned, sealed and healed,” Alvarez explains.

But first of all, we need to recognize littering as a social ill that we need to quash, a totally unacceptable habit that we need to get rid of by enforcing anti-littering laws in conjunction with information, education, and other value-formation measures.

Starting from the top, Alvarez calls on President Noynoy Aquino: “We hope that P-Noy himself will lead this movement for a ‘litter-free Pilipinas’ in line with his social contract with the Filipino people.”
He adds, “Our President has silenced abusive flashing sirens (wang-wang). We believe he can also rid the country of garbage and dumps.”

For this momentous celebration, EcoWaste Coalition has put together “25@25” — 25 down-to-earth garbage prevention and reduction tips, with green ideas gathered from the Alaga Lahat, Ayala Foundation, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Interface Development Interventions, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, Sining Yapak, and Zero Waste Philippines.

1. Be a role model in green citizenship: Reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose, segregate at source, recycle, compost, and never litter. Commit to 3Rs and more to divert useful discards away from dumpsites, landfills, incinerators, and cement kilns.

2. Discourage others from dropping or dumping trash; courteously explain how litter ruins the environment and damages public health and welfare.

3. Make it a habit to bring your own drinking water in a refillable water tumbler or jug.

4. For coffee drinkers, always bring your refillable coffee mug/tumbler.

5. Place your baon in recyclable food containers that can be washed and used again.

6. Don’t toss cigarette filters on the ground; work hard to quit smoking.

7. Carry a personal litter bag or hold on to your rubbish such as bus tickets, food wrappers, and cigarette butts until you have found a bin.

8. Never throw litter out of cars; keep a litter bag in your vehicle to collect your trash until a bin is available.

9. Don’t spit or throw chewing gum on the ground and by no means stick it under a chair, bench or table. (You’ve probably been an unwitting victim of the chewing gum culprit who sticks his gum in the most unlikely places. I have been one, many times over, especially when I go malling.)

10. Spit is litter, too; it’s unsightly and unsanitary, and could spread disease. Please don’t spit on streets, sidewalks, pavements or inside buses, movie houses, etc. (If you can’t help it, perhaps you should bring your own spittoon.)

11. Pick up after your pets; stop dog fouling in streets and parks.

12. Don’t leave your discards out by the road for collection.

13. Don’t throw away hazardous waste such as mercury-containing lamps and batteries in regular trash.

14. Be a smart consumer — small is beautiful and less is more. Say no to plastic bags, make eco-bags your lifetime companion, and always keep reusable/foldable bags in your purse or pocket for your needs.

15. Plan your shopping day, pick eco-friendly products with the least packaging, and make sure you have a bayong or other reusable bags to carry the goods. Be firm on not buying anything when you don’t have your bag with you. This will also save you from impulse buying.

16. Avoid buying in plastic sachets and tipid packs; buy in bulk as much as possible and choose items in reusable or recyclable containers.

17. Plan your menu for the week, and buy only perishable goods such as vegetables that you need for the week to avoid spoilage.

18. Avoid buying fresh goods like fruits and vegetables from big supermarkets where these are usually wrapped in plastic cling wrap or placed on polystyrene trays. Get them from the nearest talipapa or palengke and put them directly in your bayong or reusable bags after weighing.

19. Bring empty ice cream or biscuit containers or small buckets when going to the market. You can use them for wet goods such as fish, poultry or meat before putting them in the basket or reusable bag.

20. Develop the habit of “no food and drink leftovers” during meals at home and elsewhere. Store leftovers in sealable glass or plastic containers and assign a “leftovers day” to consume them.

21. Support restaurants and food stalls that use reusable plates and utensils. Refrain from patronizing eateries that serve food in polystyrene containers.

22. Make it a practice to carry reusable food containers with you. This would come in handy for takeouts as well as leftovers from restaurants.

23. Shun drinking straws. Remind waiters not to give you one when you place your order and explain why. Drink straight from the bottle or use a cup instead.

24. Keep boxes of liquid milk, all-purpose cream, tomato sauce, and similar items as containers to grow seedlings.

25. Refrain from consuming single-use, throw-away stuff; opt for reusable ones such as cloth table napkin and cover instead of disposable ones, handkerchief in place of tissues, native fans in lieu of plastic fans.

And to top it all, our environmentalists enjoin everyone not to throw away their right to sue erring national and local authorities as well as private and public citizens who refuse to comply with Republic Act 9003 — the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act — and other related health and environmental laws.

Litter by litter, we can all make a difference.


Post a Comment