For Millions of Filipinos, the Christmas season means buying gifts for loved ones and splurging on buying new household items. However, this habit has veiled the genuine meaning of Christmas and has contributed to the accumulation of more waste that negatively affects our environment. Obtuse consumerism has replaced our genuine celebration of Christmas.
With Christmas just around the corner, Ecowaste Coalition, a zero waste and toxic watchdog group, in partnership with Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in Project 8, Quezon City, is calling on the general public to lessen their waste by upcycling scrap materials into holiday decorations and practicing zero waste habits this Christmas season.
At an advocacy event titled “Zero Waste Pasko” held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Quezon City, held on December 10, 2023, Ecowaste Coalition showcased recycled materials turned into holiday decorations to spotlight their call for a more environmentally friendly, practical, and creative celebration of the Christmas season. The group presented a variety of recycled and upcycled decorations made out of discards such as magazines, plastic bottles, product containers and wrappers, tin cans, and other scrap materials.
“As we celebrate this joyous season, it is important to remember that we should also care for our environment by minimizing the waste we produce. Upcycling discards into holiday decorations is one of the many ways that we lessen our waste which will help reduce what goes into dumps and landfills” Ochie Tolentino,Zero Waste Campaigner, Ecowaste Coalition.
The group also called for a simpler celebration of Christmas which focuses on the essence of the joyful season and less on materialistic celebration. “Let us not use this upcoming holiday as an excuse to buy more items. Instead, let us focus on spending time with our loved ones and reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas, which is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is the most opportune time to rediscover the virtue of simplicity which is exemplified by Jesus’ life. Through lessening our waste, we can protect the sanctity of this most wonderful time of the year”, Tolentino added.
To further emphasize the importance of celebrating this joyous season in a humble way, Fr. Robert Reyes of the OLPH Project 8, Quezon City shared that “The first Christmas was not in a Mall but in a manger where the Christ child was born to poor and simple parents admired and greeted by nature loving shepherds with their animals.”
“Many years ago I ran a campaign called Wala sa Mall Ang Sanggol calling for a non consumerist and simpler, nature friendly Christmas. It is time to consider this challenge again. Less Mall, Less Shopping, Less Garbage. Less or No Damage to Nature. The best Christmas carol is the silent yet glorious smile of a plant, Vegetable, A tree planted and grown in our backyards or communities, in parks, forests, mountains and coastal areas.” Fr. Reyes said.
Example of creative and eye catching holiday decorations that the Ecowaste Coalition showed during the event includes: angels fashioned out of fabric conditioner and medicine and deodorant containers, Three Kings using busted electric flat irons, lanterns made of crafted magazines and egg trays, a petite corrugated box Christmas tree embellished with twine from single-use plastics, wreaths and other cheerful decorations utilizing used glass bottles tin cans, brown bags, toilet paper rolls and other discards.
The group noted that the items they displayed are mere examples of the many creative ways to recycle and upcycle scrap materials this holiday season. There are countless ways that the general public can lengthen the life of their discarded items.