What to do with all that holiday junk?

Published January 8, 2022, 3:00 AM

by Pao Vergara

Declutter and start the year right with these recycling and upcycling initiatives

After the Christmas rush comes the New Year slowdown and with it, the need to make space for all things new. That making-space also has its annual tradition: decluttering. As the gifts, dishes, and décor get sorted and stored, what follows is a parade of leftover giftwraps, plastic containers, and similar refuse.

We’re more eco-conscious than before, the product of a growing awareness of the cost-of-convenience made all the more urgent by the pandemic. Likely we’re internally debating whether to go the easy route and just bin the junk lying at home or to find a new life cycle for what can be cycled.

With the initiatives below, however, you can have your headspace, and a clear conscience too, as the following provide one-stop solutions to one’s clutter problems. The last initiative contains a variety of ideas for those looking to incorporate recreation and hobbies with recycling.

For recyclable waste

Founded in France but headquartered in Manila, the Plastic Flamingo, also called “the Plaf,” is a social enterprise that, started in 2020, has steadily built local partnerships not just with communities but with private and government institutions.

The country is one of the top contributors to riverine and oceanic plastic pollution not just in the region but worldwide. Despite efforts of local governments to ban plastic use on the consumer end, the current lack of alternatives to plastic packaging poses a problem. Attempts to implement trash segregation laws are wanting at best.

Trash Panda

As such, aside from education campaigns, the Plaf has made it a mission to collect as much plastic waste and upcycle it. What makes upcycling different from recycling? Upcycling is closer to repurposing. The plastic serves as a raw material for new applications other than packaging.

Aside from strategically-placed collection centers around Metro Manila, the Plaf also offers pick-up services for offices, homes, and communities. The plastic is then made into eco-lumber, which is used in development activities, most notably in the construction of typhoon shelters.

Augmenting the Plaf’s efforts is Trash Panda, an app developed by waste management company Circular Recoon, a local startup focused on collecting paper products, plastics, metals, and beverage boxes.

Circular Recoon CEO Marie Sapuay cites the diminishing amount of landfill space in the country as the push that started their company and its mission toward upcycling.
Much like GPS-based transportation and logistics on-demand, one simply has to set a location, segregate and confirm the type of refuse, and then book a Trash Panda collector, who then brings the trash to recycling centers around the metro.

Follow the Plaf on Instagram and Facebook and download Trash Panda in leading app stores.

For e-waste

Now that you’ve configured your new phone, synchronized your smartwatch, and decluttered your desktop (computer), you’re probably wondering what to do with the physical wastes, old phones, discarded cords and batteries, broken LCDs, the works.

E-waste Zero bin

Electronic refuse or e-waste has become a very specific and widespread form of waste in our rapidly digitizing era. Owing to the chemical and corrosive nature of computing chips and similar components, e-waste has more damaging effects on soil and water health if simply thrown into landfills.

In line with this, Globe Telecom in 2014 launched a nationwide program, which today is called “E-Waste Zero.” Globe stores and partner malls contain drop-off points for e-waste, which then finds itself in the TES-AMM center in Pasig, run by a company dedicated to upcycling discarded electronics. The upcycled raw materials find their last resting place in the main warehouse in Singapore before finding a new life.

Be part of the solution, not the pollution.

Meanwhile, Maritrans Recyclers Inc. processes e-waste collected from Visayas and Mindanao. As we find ourselves at home once again, E-Waste Zero also offers collection services.

Book a collection at www.globe.com.ph/help/e-waste-zero.html

For KPop fans

Chuu Can Do It teaser

You’ve seen the memes. It’s likely you’ve seen the ads too, but have you seen the advocacy?
Kim Jiwoo, stage name Chuu, is one of the 4th Generation’s most recognizable idols owing to her bubbly personality, where the designated maknae (youngest members or young-acting members) of other groups often cite her as someone more aegyo than them as they mimic the Chuu-heart gesture.

Part of Billboard-charting, MTV Europe-awarded, and American Top 40-breaking group LOONA, Chuu’s worldwide reach has booked her tons of advertising gigs outside of her music career.

Taking advantage of this huge following, Chuu, working together with a Korea-based public broadcaster, launched the YouTube variety show Chuu Can Do It in early 2021. The premise is that Chuu from the future contacts present Chuu warning her about a severely-impacted world where people don’t wear face masks but gas masks.

In each episode, Chuu explores ways citizens can do their part to address different environmental issues, often centered around the theme of recognizing the cost of convenience. As this is still a broadcast show, there is still the occasional advertorial selling an electric car or two.

More often than not, however, Chuu is challenged to make eco-friendlier solutions to problems encountered while visiting cafés, laundromats, shopping, or touring places, even if these are initially unfamiliar and out of her comfort zone. And while these occur in a Korean setting, they can also be transplanted to our context.

A Korean newspaper cited Chuu’s show as communicating more effectively what many public-service announcements try to communicate. It seems that you can have your cute, and eat it, Chuu.

Chuu Can Do It releases new episodes on YouTube every Thursday.