By Noreen Izabel Jazul
In a bid to address the pressing problem involving plastics in the country, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines is incorporating its campaign against single-use plastics, #AyokongPlastic, in this year’s celebration of Earth Hour.
WWF-Philippines President and CEO Joel Palma said it was high-time to address the plastic problem, especially with Philippines being ranked as the third major polluter of oceans in the world.
“One of the most important things and issue that has been arising right now is plastics. For the last 30 years, I never have imagined that plastics would become an issue.[So] if there’s anything we can do we can reduce the use of single use plastic,” said Palma in his opening remarks during the media launch of Earth Hour 2019 in Ortigas on Thursday.
Earth Hour Philippines National Director, Atty. Gia Ibay, echoed Palma’s concern, saying that their goal for this year’s Earth Hour celebration is to look at reduction or elimination of unnecessary use of plastics, especially single-use plastics.
“We want to galvanize the use Earth Hour to be able to bring forward the issue of single use plastics,” said Ilbay.
“Plastics have actually been a 16-generation problem. But that continues to be a problem of the next generation and we need to find a way or find solutions to that problem,” she added.
Ibay, citing Manila Bay, also highlighted the importance of waste segregation.
“If waste were segregated better we wouldn’t have the problem that the Manila Bay would have,” she shared.
The environmental group underscored that plastics can also be reduced with a change in consumer behavior.
Ibay said using plastics, especially single-use plastic, was sometimes unnecessary.
“Why use a straw when you can drink straight from the bottle, or straight from the glass so these are things that we’re trying to change, consumer behavior,” Ibay said.
Iza Calzado, one of WWF’s National Ambassadors, shared that she uses alternatives to plastic straws.
“I use metal straws, I’ve also used bamboo straws. For me that is a better alternative. Hindi naman ako mas straw to begin with, na papa straw ka lang kasi binibigay yung straw. When I was younger do I really need to drink soft drinks with a straw? No. But because it was there that’s just how we used it, not being mindful of these choices,” she told Manila Bulletin.
“It’s not so much that plastic is evil it’s there for a purpose, it’s just that way we use it that’s really terrible,” she added.
One of WWF’s official partner for Earth Hour 2019, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, for its part, said it follows one of the tenets of sustainable development goal (SDG), which is responsible consumption and production.
“It’s a cycle, plastic has been there for quite some time. I think the question really is [how do we] address the non-essential ways of using plastic to make it more sustainable as we go along,” said Yasser Sarona of the Boy Scouts.
‘Connect with nature’
Most people do not pay attention to environment problems, such as plastic pollution, because they are not connected with nature, according to Palma.
The WWF President said events like Earth Hour was one way to rekindle people’s relationship with nature, and for them to see the environment’s condition.
“Most of the time were not connected to nature specially almost 60 to 70% of the population lives in urban areas… Di natin na re-relate na everything that we use, everything that we need comes from nature and it’s about time that we have that focus, that attention to take care of it because it’s actually not in a good situation, things are on a downhill and we have to do something about it,” Palma told Manila Bulletin.
Calzado meanwhile said the concept of “what goes around, comes back around” applies in humans’ relationship with nature.
“Ito ang tahanan natin, at apg hindi natin ito inalagaan tayo din naman ang babalikan nito, tayo din naman ang mag sisisi sa huli,” the WWF ambassadress said.
“Eto yung mundo natin, eto ang ginagalwan natin, dito ako pinanganak, dito din ako mamatay kailangan ko siya alagaan, dahil ito ang nagbibigay sa akin ng pagkain ko, ng tinitirhan ko, eto ang nagbibigay sa akin ng lahat ng kailangan ko sa buhay kaya kailangan talaga ay mabigyan ko ito ng prioridad at importansya,” the actress added.
For the past 12 years, Earth Hour has proven that coming together can make a positive change in the environment.
This year, the public is invited to join the Earth Hour switch-off event on March 30, Sunday, at the Globe Circuit Event Grounds in Makati from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with the simultaneous nationwide switch-off scheduled at 8:30 p.m..
WWF-Philippines also encouraged the use of social media to start conversations about environmental problems, such as plastic pollution, by using hashtags such as #Connect2Earth, #AyokongPlastic, and #EarthHourPH2019.
Calzado, fellow WWF-Philippines national ambassador Rovilson Fernandez, and WWF-Philippines national youth ambassador Janine Gutierrez — who all renewed their commitment with the environmental group — pledged to do their part for mother earth.
Calzado and Gutierrez both said they will start the change within themselves, and their homes.
“I [pledge] to make more conscious choices, especially in the use of single-use plastic not just outside of my home, but inside our home, bilang isang misis gagawan ko ng paraan,” said Calzado.
Gutierrez said bringing own shopping bags, and tumblers, and containers are among the few simple acts that can help reduce plastic. The youth ambassadress also shared that she utilizes social media to inform herself better on pressing environmental issues.
“I check the hashtags on Instagram, there’s so many environmental influencers…that I really learn a lot from,” Gutierrez said.
Fernandez, for his part, pledged to continue to use awareness, which he believes is the “greatest weapon in fighting climate change.”
The public can also share their pledges for a less-plastic world in Earth Hour Philippines’ Facebook event page – http://bit.ly/EarthHourPH2019 that will go live by March 1, 2019; and engage in conversations on plastics on facebook.com/groups/ayokongplastik.