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Holy Week travelers urged to 'think outside the bottle'

MANILA, March 29 — As city folk brace themselves for the seasonal “Semana Santa” pilgrimage or leisure trip, a waste and pollution watchdog issued a “prayerful reminder” for travelers to “think outside the bottle” and give up the bottled water habit.

The EcoWaste Coalition released its latest eco-advisory in time for the much anticipated Holy Week exodus where people take advantage of the long vacation to fulfill their religious vows, visit relatives or travel long distances to get away from the frenzy of urban life.

“We expect increased consumer demand for bottled beverages like bottled water as people hit the road or frolic on the beach under the broiling April sun,” said Chin Chin Gutierrez of Alaga LAHAT and the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The ever increasing production and consumption of bottled water bring myriad environmental and health problems that consumers are hardly informed about, including the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the whole life cycle of bottled water, the potential leaching of chemicals from plastic bottles, microbial contamination due to poor regulation, and marine litter,” she added.

“In lieu of single-use bottled water, we urge consumers to bring a reusable water jug, stainless steel or lined aluminum container filled with clean tap water or, if necessary, with boiled, filtered or purified water to cut on GHGs and trash. By making it a habit to bring our own ‘lalagyan,’ we avoid creating waste and pollution,” Gutierrez said.

"If buying bottled water cannot be avoided, consumers should dispose of the empty bottles in recycling bins to prevent hazards to human and ecological health. The practice of burning plastic bottles discharges chemical poisons such as dioxins, while discarding them on the street or on the beach pollutes the surroundings and threatens aquatic life," she added.

According to Ocean Conservancy’s “Marine Debris Index,” the Philippines registered the highest number of littered beverage plastic bottles in Southeast Asia, based on marine debris collected during the International Coastal Cleanup Day in 2008. The Philippines accounted for 20,238 pieces, followed by Singapore at 4,932, Thailand 3,216, Malaysia 2,046, Indonesia 681, and Vietnam 5.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited the latest viral video craze “The Story of Bottled Water” launched on March 22, the World Water Day, to affirm its arguments against the bottled water habit that many Filipinos have unwittingly adopted.

The video outlines the various issues against bottled water such as “manufacturing” consumer demand through misleading advertising, the extraction and use of oil to produce water bottles, the emission of GHGs from the manufacture, transportation and disposal of water bottles, and dumping or burning of used bottles. (PNA)

FFC/PR/mec

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