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Ecowaste: Celebrate Xmas, New Year safely

CELEBRATE Christmas and New Year safely and sustainably as the entire planet grapples with the unprecedented climate, plastic and COVID-19 woes.

This was the appeal of the environment-advocate group EcoWaste Coalition to Filipino families as it recommended several ways on how to make the holiday season zero waste, toxics-free and COVID-safe celebrations.

The group hoped that their recommendations can help to revert to the true spirit of Christmas and New Year togetherness and thanksgiving, which has been altered to become a purely consumerist’s raucous revelry, and be a responsible steward of Mother Earth.

The COVID-19 health crisis necessitates that we celebrate differently and keep safety top of mind. We can’t let our guard down against this dreadful virus,” the group said.

The timely tips were contributed by the Action on Smoking and Health, Aksyon Kalikasan, Arugaan, Consumer Rights for Safe Food, Environmental Resources Management Center-DLSUD, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability-Davao, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives-Cavite, Krusada sa Kalikasan-Nueva Ecija, Mother Earth Foundation, Oceana Philippines, Philippine Animal Welfare Society, Philippine Earth Justice Center-Cebu, Plastic Free Bohol, and War on Waste-Negros Oriental.

In preventing and reducing holiday trash, the group suggested that shoppers just bring a stash of reusable bags and containers and refuse paper and plastic carry bags at the checkout counter, select ecological, healthy and safe products with minimal packaging and buy local as much as possible and support plastic-free enterprises and patronize eco-stores or zero-waste stores as a lifestyle choice.

The group further recommended to cut down on food waste by preparing and serving only what is needed, keeping extra food properly stored, recycled or shared with others, and by turning kitchen waste into compost.

In preventing and reducing exposure to toxic chemicals, the group recommended to choose duly registered and labeled age-appropriate toys and childcare articles that are safe from harmful substances like cadmium, lead, mercury, phthalates and other chemicals of concern.

The group also said there is a need to carefully check the labeling information of a product before buying it.

When there are chemical ingredients that you don’t understand and when in doubt, don’t buy it; beware of brands and products engaged in green-washing and pink-washing,” the group added.

In preventing and reducing risk of COVID-19 infection, the group recommended to just shop online rather than in person whenever feasible to avoid packed malls that are teeming with holiday shoppers.

If you need to get out of your home to shop, go to less crowded places that are well-ventilated and where basic health protocols are duly enforced such as physical distancing and the wearing of face masks and shields,” the group said.