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DENR asks Filipinos: Help clean cemetery surroundings on All Saints’ Day

MANILA, Oct. 28 – Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje reminded the public on Thursday to think of the well-being of the living by taking measures to minimize the impacts on the environment of the nationwide observance of All Saints' Day next week.

Paje noted that during the coming “Undas,” millions of Filipinos are expected to troop to the cemeteries to pay homage to their departed loved ones, one of important traditions that the nation never ceases to observe, come rain or shine.

“Visiting the dead during these days is a cherished tradition of Filipinos, but we should do away with practices that harm the environment and our health,” Paje said.

He noted that studies showed an estimated 30,000 tons of garbage are being generated in the country on a regular day, of which 8,000 tons are produced in Metro Manila.

“With that statistics, you could just imagine how much more of the garbage we will be generating during holidays, such as All Souls’ Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, birthdays and other festivities that we love to celebrate annually,” Paje said.

While Paje said it is all right to celebrate or commemorate, he also urged the public to also ponder on the environmental impacts of the celebrations as “every human activity impacts on the environment and our natural resources.”

As such, the DENR chief is urging cemetery administrators and the local government units to provide strategically located waste receptacles that would, at the same time, encourage segregation of trash, and to require vendors to do the same.

Paje said it is critical that the public will now seriously consider reducing their garbage, especially those that are not recyclable and biodegradable, as it can be a major cause of flooding during heavy downpours.

“Many of the uncollected and unsegregated wastes are left scattered on the streets or in open lots, or find their way into and clog our rivers and esteros, posing risks to the health and safety of surrounding communities. We cannot rest on our gains in cleaning some of our waterways because there is so much more that remains to be done,” he said.

Paje is encouraging the public to take the following initiatives in caring for the environment:

1. Bring separate trash bags for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste; minimize trash by using reusable utensils; bring only sufficient amount of food and drinks placed in reusable or recyclable containers.

Bring home any leftovers for reheating, pet food, or compost material; place candles in glass containers which are reusable and to avoid risk of fire; collect melted candle wax to make new candles or to sell to traders; use fresh flowers, if possible without plastic wrapping or potted plants as these help purify the air and are biodegradable.

Clean up before leaving, and make sure that containers do not contain stagnant water that could be a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes; do not burn the garbage as it will contribute to air pollution.

Additionally, Paje said that Filipinos should think of reducing air pollution over the weekend by lowering vehicle emissions.

“Let us lessen the number of vehicles on the road. If possible, let us take the public transport, especially when going to the provinces, or car pooling. This way, not only can we sit back and relax, we also avoid heavy traffic that generates air pollution,” he said.

Paje said that caring for the environment is not a monopoly of the government, stressing that every Filipino should do his or her share in protecting the environment.

“Every little ‘green’ act we do will not only benefit this generation but all generations of Filipinos to come,” he said. (PNA) scs/JCA

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