A group advocating for a zero waste and toxics-free society has again appealed to communities across the country that are about to celebrate the highly popular feast of Santo Niño to refrain from hanging single-use plastic banderitas or flaglets, as well as plastic tarpaulins, to cut down on plastic consumption and garbage.
In a statement released ahead of the feast of the Holy Child on the third Sunday of January, the EcoWaste Coalition discouraged organizers from using plastic “labo” (thin plastic without handles used as packaging for cooked and fresh food) and other disposable plastics as banderitas.
“As our country grapples with the effects of the plastic pollution crisis, we find it necessary to put a stop on the reckless consumption of single-use plastics such as those used in community fiestas,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Hardly reused or recycled, these throw-away decors only add to the volume of mixed garbage collected after the festivities,” she said. “Some of which may even end up polluting the marine environment with plastic, which eventually will break down into microplastic and move through the food chain.”
Iloilo City will celebrate Dinagyang festival later this month in honor of Señor Sto. Niño (Holy Child Jesus).
The group likewise drew attention to the presence of cadmium, a cancer-causing chemical, in other types of plastic used in making banderitas, lanterns and other synthetic ornaments.
This chemical is also found in tarpaulins made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic at levels exceeding European Union’s limit as detected in laboratory tests commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition.
For this reason, the group urged fiesta organizers and sponsors, politicians in particular, to refrain from putting up “happy fiesta” tarpaulins, which do not really add joy and meaning to the occasion.
The group reminded the faithful about the “urgent call for ecological conversion” made by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) through a pastoral letter issued in 2019 “in the face of climate emergency.”
The bishops through the said letter identified a number of “concrete ecological actions,” including “minimizing the use of plastic and paper (and) eliminating single-use plastics, polystyrene and the like.”
“We hope parishes and communities will heed our appeal and do away with the wasteful practice of adorning church patios, plazas, streets and alleys with single-use plastic banderitas,” Tolentino said. “It’s time to say goodbye to single-use plastics and hello to greener celebrations.”