The humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church and an environmental watchdog group for a zero waste and toxics-free society have joined forces to amplify their call toward reduced garbage this joyful season.
With the much-awaited Christmas and New Year festivities just around the corner, Caritas Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Filipino people to celebrate as One Nation in a manner that will not further take a toll on the environment, which is already drowning in plastic waste and medical waste due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In partnership with the Intramuros Administration and the Tondo-based Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative, representatives of the said organizations gathered at Plaza Roma in front of the Manila Cathedral to showcase sustainable gifts and practices that will help in trimming down the generation of preventable “holitrash” (a portmanteau of “holiday” and “trash”) during the yuletide season.
“As we celebrate the Redeemer’s birth amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we remind every home, parish and community to be mindful of the tons upon tons of garbage that will be generated if we simply consume and recklessly throw away what we consume,” said Fr. Tony Labiao, Executive Secretary, Caritas Philippines. “There’s no excuse for generating ‘holitrash,’ which can only add to the huge volume of single-use plastic waste and medical waste as a consequence of the pandemic.”
For Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, “wastefulness” need not characterize the festive Christmas season of sharing. “To prevent ‘holitrash’ from wreaking havoc on the environment, we urge households, local authorities and businesses to keep discards that can be reused, recycled and composted out of bins, dumps and landfills,” he said.
“As stewards of the environment, let us celebrate Christmas and usher in the New Year with the well-being of our Mother Earth in mind. We should make use of our inherent creativity and kindness to reduce our carbon footprint during the most joyous time of the year,” he added.
The event featured beautifully-made gift items such as bags and jewelry products made from recycled paper, as well as upcycled holiday decors from fabric, metal, paper and plastic recyclables.
Among the upcycled decors that were put on display include door and table ornaments using COVID-19 discards such as used face shields and empty alcohol containers, decorated used paper bags, reindeers fashioned out of toilet paper tubes, angels with fabric conditioner containers as bodies and old musical pages as wings, Santa Claus made out of different materials, Three Kings made of used wine bottles and insecticide aerosol cans, and Christmas wreaths embellished with tins cans, paper cups, product packaging and plastic bottles.
Members of a local cooperative and women artisans also shared homemade food products and other creative alternatives to Christmas packaging for gift-giving.
Also spreading Christmas cheer were community members who sang popular carols with altered lyrics espousing environmental concern and responsibility and with matching maracas made from empty pineapple juice cans.