Two pro-environment organizations prodded the faithful to give Mother Earth a breather from garbage as the Holy Week is commemorated for the second time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Caritas Philippines, together with the EcoWaste Coalition, invited Catholic Filipinos to mark the Holy Week with acts that will prevent environmental pollution, especially through the reduced use of single-use plastics. Caritas Philippines, the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church, is a member of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“As stewards of God’s Creation, let us celebrate the Paschal Mystery of the Holy Week with a deeper reflection on what is happening to our environment and the climate and the need for us to speak and act as one to defend our Mother Earth from being further degraded and harmed,” said Father Antonio Labiao, Jr., Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines and board member of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“As we again commemorate the Holy Week at a time of a global public health crisis due to COVID-19, let us reflect on the insidious throw-away culture that is turning our lands and oceans into dumping grounds for chemical and waste pollutants. Let us listen to the cries of Mother Earth who is choking from tons upon tons of single-use plastic waste, and act with compassion and urgency to save her from this sorry plight,” he said.
Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, invited the faithful to explore and embrace practices that will help in reducing the generation of trash in our households and communities during the week-long enhanced community quarantine in the “NCR plus” area.
“As we adopt stricter COVID-19 curbs during the Holy Week, let us pay closer attention to practical ways of reducing garbage and beating the plastic pollution crisis in our midst,” he said.
Caritas Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition jointly urged the faithful to embrace a Zero Waste lifestyle and consider the following eco-tips for the Holy Week and beyond:
1. Abstain from or better still quit polluting habits such as the arbitrary use and disposal of single-use plastics, the mixing of discards, and the open dumping or burning of garbage.
2. Segregate waste materials at its source in order to reuse, repair and recycle inorganic or non-biodegradable discards, and compost organic or biodegradable materials.
3. Turn food waste and other organics into compost, which can be used to fertilize the soil for home or neighborhood gardens.
4. Opt for reusable cloth or fabric face masks – especially for non-medical frontliners — instead of single-use non-biodegradable and non-recyclable face masks.
5. Safely dispose of soiled face masks, worn-out face shields and used gloves, tissues, wipes and other potentially infectious waste.
6. Gather old and used items in good condition and donate them to charitable causes such as the “Segunda Mana,” the special donations-in-kind program of Caritas Manila.
The groups likewise reiterated the need for all citizens to abide by the minimum public health protocols to stem the spread of COVID-19, including regularly washing hands with soap and water, observing good respiratory hygiene, maintaining safe physical distancing, and practicing proper disposal of used face masks and other COVID-related waste.