MANILA — Environment volunteers and advocates on Saturday reiterated the problem of plastic pollution and the importance of collective efforts to combat the country’s problem with plastics during this year’s International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Among those who joined was Mathew Cordova, who accompanied his mother Myra for a coastal clean-up activity in the Las Piñas-Parañaque critical habitat and ecotourism area in support of the clean-up drive.
Armed with gloves and garbage tongs, the 14-year-old removed all the trash he could find on the shoreline before being washed back into the water.
“Sobrang dami pong basura, nakakagulat po. Medyo marami na po nahakot namin. Mostly, puro plastic wrappers,” Cordova said.
The solution he could start on, he realized, was to lessen the use of plastics during his daily grind and use containers for his water and food instead.
“’Pag bibili po ako, hindi na po ‘yung mga plastic bottles, magdadala na po ako ng sarili kong bote,” he said after seeing the large amount of plastic waste he collected.
Myra said she wanted her son to learn how to protect the environment and engage in real-world issues, hence the immersion.
“Ever since Grade 3 ‘yung anak ko, it’s part of their school activity but it’s all about theories. I bought them here para they can personally experience and show the world that there’s something that we can do,” she said.
The activity she and her son participated in was in partnership with Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA), a non-profit organization dedicated to creating sustainable programs.
The group also brought together employee-volunteers to collaborate for the ocean clean-up, hoping to raise awareness and inspire them to change their behavior.
SAVE THE PLANET
The Philippines is the world’s top plastic polluter source in the world’s oceans as of last year, with several of its rivers contributing to the circulation of polymer waste.
While upycling and recycling have offered solutions to the country’s plastic problems, experts ABS-CBN News have spoken to earlier this year said these measures would no longer be enough.
The solution, green campaigners have said, was to cut down plastic use.
Viki Encarnacion, Watsons sustainability director, said small contributions such as coastal clean-up initiatives is are still important.
“We think that the impact is not the only amount of trash collected today, it is helping our employees and suppliers have a new outlook on what waste management can do,” Encarnacion said.
“We are together with the rest of the world making our contribution, helping save the planet,” she added.
CORA founder and executive director Antoinette Taus, founder and executive director of CORA, sounded the alarm on the perpetual presence of plastics, given its material.
In relation to this, the issue of microplastics, or the tiny fragments of plastics, has also hounded scientists and health experts, as this could be consumed by animals and fish that humans eat.
Scientists this year found traces of microplastics in human blood for the first time. The study said the microplastics could have entered the body by many routes: via air, water or food, but also in products such as particular toothpastes, lip glosses and tattoo ink.
“Ang plastic, kahit kailan hindi ‘yan mawawala and the same time, nakikita rin natin ano ‘yung mga nagiging issue,” said Taus.
“For example, there are numbers that sa na sa Pilipinas, every single day gumagamit tayo ng 163 million sachets, 4 million plastic bags, diapers, at iba iba pang waste na hindi nagba-biodegrade,” she added.
Taus acknowledged that coastal cleanup is not a long-term solution to eliminating plastic pollution, but it helps make a big difference.
“Imagine mo, kahit isa lang mapulot natin ngayon, kung limang daan kayong sabay-sabay o isang libo kayong sabay-sabay nagpulot ng isang piraso, isang libong piraso na ‘yun,” she said.
Taus stressed that stopping plastic pollution requires a collective effort. People, she said, could help the cause by disposing plastics properly, and companies can avoid or reduce the use of plastic in their supply chains.
“It’s not just about cleaning, it’s taking these stories here with us and applying them to our day-to-day life sa mga simpleng mga desisyon natin. Sa mga binibili natin kung paano tayo magco-consume ng pagkain, at iba pa,” she said.
“Pag sinabing pagbabago sa plastic pollution, nanggagaling talaga yung pagbabago sa governments, companies, and brands, siyempre, sa ating lahat din, pero hindi natin kayang gawin ‘yun kung hindi rin sila magli-lead ng way natin.
“Malaking oportunidad ito na makapag-engage ng mas marami pang tao hindi lang sa paglinis pero sa paunti-unti nating pag-iwas sa mga single-use, sa pag-segregate, sa pag-recycle, sa paglagay sa tamang lugar,” said the advocate.
More than 200 employee-volunteers and trade-suppliers joined the coastal clean-up activity as part of Watson’s “do good campaign for the ocean.”
They collected a total of 1,014.8 kilograms of waste which would be sent to the Eco-Ikot Centre in Paranaque for upcycling.
— Larize Lee, ABS-CBN News; with additional reporting by Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News