Cauayan high school opens zero-waste canteen

STUDENTS of Bulata National High School hold mugs made from indigenous materials as they promote plastic-free culture in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. (Pre Gaurana and Eiggy Yap photos)

By: Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – Bulata National High School in Cauayan, Negros Occidental promotes a plastic-free culture through the opening of their “Wala Usik” (zero waste) canteen.

Newly-designated school principal Eiggy Duller Yap, who came up with the idea, revealed their advocacy of using biodegradable, indigenous, and reusable materials – such as mugs made from bamboo, bowls from coconut shells, and plates from banana leaves during the opening of classes on June 5, in celebration of the World Environment Day this week and World Oceans Day last month.

Yap attended Danjugan Island’s Marine and Wildlife Camp and realized that natural resources are under threat because of plastic pollution.

He knows that single-use plastic is often mismanaged in schools nationwide, and causes problems to the environment, as well as public health.

“Why not adopt this model, and reduce plastic waste as source, at the same time promote what’s local? Imagine if all school canteens in the Philippines become ‘wala usik,” he said.

MUGS made of bamboo, bowls from coconut shells, and plates from banana leaves used in “Wala Usik” (zero waste) canteen at Bulata National High School in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.

The “Wala Usik” Canteen aims to promote healthy eating from fresh and local produce, and will avoid and discourage processed food packaged in single-use plastic.

It will be managed by the school’s Teachers’ League Association, and it will also be used for school-based feeding programs.

The school canteen also features walls painted with colorful marine life with the theme “More Fish, Not Plastic” by volunteers from the Association of Negros Artists (ANA), paying homage to the rich biodiversity of Cauayan waters, and the Danjugan Island Marine Reserve and Sanctuaries, also part of the said village.

Yap is seeking additional support from stakeholders to make the school canteen fully operational, as he cited their need for more chairs, tables, and equipment.

Yap was also inspired by the “Wala Usik” sari-sari store launched in April in Barangay Bulata.

A total of eight “Wala Usik” sari-sari stores have started operating in Negros island since April, in partnership with the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI, the same non-government organization behind Danjugan Island), through its program SWEEP: Sea Waste Education to Eradicate Plastic, funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Municipal Waste Recycling Program.

All these efforts are to curb plastic waste, which harm our food source and life support, when they reach the ocean, Yap said.