VIVA SANTO NIÑO! Coalition urges the people to refuse single-use plastics to reduce fiesta garbage

Following its call for a trash-free observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene, the EcoWaste Coalition is now appealing to parishes and communities nationwide who will celebrate the upcoming Feast of Santo Niño to take steps to prevent and reduce fiesta garbage.

The advocacy group for a zero waste and toxics-free society specifically encouraged the people to honor the Child Jesus by avoiding the consumption of single-use plastics (SUPs) in order to cut the volume of trash from the festivities.

With the easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, various crowd-drawing events are set to happen in honor of Santo Niño such as the famous Sinulog, Dinagyang and Ati-Atihan festivals in Cebu, Iloilo and Aklan, the Buling-Buling and Lakbayaw in Pandacan and Tondo, Manila City, and the Bambino in Pasig City, among others.

“As the national and international zero waste month is observed this January, we appeal to all parishes and communities to avoid SUPs and to choose reusable over disposable products all year round to cut down on waste,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

SUPs that are widely used in community festivities include disposable polystyrene plastic containers, plastic cups, plates and cutlery, plastic bags, plastic bottles for water and sugary beverages, plastic straws, and numerous products in sachet packaging, as well as the ubiquitous plastic banderitas.

“As we have seen during the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, polystyrene containers for free cooked meals handed out by well-meaning businesses and individuals to the devotees, as well as for food sold by ambulant vendors, were among the most visible litter on the city streets and alleys,” said Tolentino.

To reduce the disposal of polystyrene containers used for cooked meals, the group urged food givers and vendors to invest in reusable containers and cutlery that can be washed and reused over and over again.

The group likewise discouraged the consumption of water in throw-away plastic bottles.  Instead it encouraged citizens to opt for reusable containers that can be filled with clean tap water or, if necessary, with boiled or filtered water.

In place of plastic bags, the group urged the public to go for reusable carry bags such as those made of cloth and other biodegradable materials, as well as from upcycled waste resources.

As for the fiesta banderitas that are seldom reused, the EcoWaste Coalition dissuaded the public from putting up buntings made of SUPs such as “plastic labo” and other plastic materials, which only add to residual trash.

“By consuming responsibly and opting for things that can be safely used and reused, we help bring down the ballooning volume of plastic garbage, as well as prevent the release of plastic debris, microplastics and plastic chemical additives contaminating the environment, the food chain and our bodies,” the group said.

Furthermore, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public to sort waste at source using available containers to facilitate the reuse, repair, recycling and composting of discarded resources.

“Our community celebrations, especially those inspired by our diverse faith and culture as a people, should be compatible with our role as stewards of Mother Earth,” the group said.  “We need everyone to get involved to build a sustainable, waste-free and non-toxic environment for all.”

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