Ecological solid waste management and recycling advocates echoed the importance of incorporating the concepts of circular economy and sustainable consumption and production in the country’s post-COVID-19 recovery plans during the 22nd episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Change Pathways,” with the topic “Transforming Waste into Wages.”
The online conversation hosted by Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda featured advocates and entrepreneurs, including Mr. Joemar Lagarto, Councilor from Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City; Ms. Shine De Castro, co-founder of Old Manila Eco Market; Ms. Wilhelmina “Willie” Garcia, founder of Junk not!; and Ms. Katherine Mana-Galido, co-founder of Back to Basics Ecostore, who all shared their experiences in starting eco-friendly programs that now generate livelihoods in their communities.
Councilor Lagarto shared Barangay Holy Spirit’s journey and legacy of a solid waste management program since 1997, three years before the enactment of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and how they established their gulayan sa barangay in 1998. With a model urban farm, training, and livelihood center that produces bags, home and office decorations, and storage baskets made from recyclable materials, Barangay Holy Spirit earned the Hall of Fame Awardee of the Seal of Housekeeping for Barangay Governance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“Nung nagsara ang Payatas dahil nagkaroon tayo ng shortage kung saan itatapon ang basura nung bago pa gumuho ito, naisip na namin noon na bakit hindi natin pag-aralan at turuan ang mga tao na dalawa lang ang dapat sine-segregate – ‘yung nabubulok at ‘di nabubulok na basura. [Naisip namin na] siguro mababawasan din ‘yung maitatapon sa Payatas kung ire-recycle natin at pagkakakitaan ng mga tao ang ating mga patapon na mga bagay. Maganda pala na magkaroon tayo ng training sa mga tao, turuan sila para i-recycle ang isang bagay na walang bayad o libre. Ang lahat ng nagawa nila, pwede nilang ibenta at pagkakitaan," said Lagarto.
Ms. De Castro showed how they conceptualized, organized, and established an eco-friendly market, which offers naturally-made, handmade, and upcycled products, including those from regions and indigenous communities. She also discussed the challenges and opportunities they are facing during the pandemic.
“Ang aming pangarap ay magkaroon ang lahat ng siyudad ng ganitong klaseng weekend market dahil kaya naman pong gawin, and at the same time, i-extend sa komunidad ang pagtulong, hindi lang sa local MSMEs. I-involve rin po ang buong community pati ang mga residente,” said de Castro.
Ms. Garcia, an environmentalist and interior designer by profession, shared her experiences in producing furniture and accessories made of trash, which she successfully exhibited in Europe. She also shared how she was inspired by the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Act and committed to influence young people to earn from waste.
“Tinuturo ko sa community [kung papaano ang] proper waste management. All the plastic wastes that they collected, may tinuro akong technique sa kanila how to manually make it into rope. Nung nalaman nila ‘yun, nag-set-up kami ng Materials Recovery Facility to properly segregate all their household wastes. Eventually, hindi na rin nila nagamit, kasi household pa lang, nagse-segregate na sila, binebenta na nila ‘yung mga recyclable, tapos ‘yung residual wastes, ‘yung plastic, ‘yun naman ‘yung binibili ko sa kanila sa community, and we turn it into home furnishing. Then may program kami na you have to buy back the finished product out of your wastes,” said Garcia.
Ms. Galido, a Climate Reality Leader and a human and environmental rights advocate, shared how she transformed climate campaigning into action with her back-to-basic (BTB) eco-store, stressing that a refilling system for stores should be part of the better normal.
“Kami ay pare-parehong mga nababahala sa sobrang packaging kaya maliban sa pagdadala ng reusable bottles at pag-iwas sa straw, gusto namin na sa tahanan namin ay zero-waste at walang packaging. Doon po nagsimula na gusto namin ng pagbabago, back-to-basics ang aming tindahan, kami ay nagpapahalaga sa essentials, at kung anong mahalaga sa pamilya. Zero-waste journey ang gusto naming maibahagi, para mabago ang throwaway culture,” said Galido.
Legarda encouraged households and LGUs to reduce waste by properly implementing segregation of waste at source, and encouraging individuals in their respective communities to recycle, upcycle, and plant their own food in support of the government’s thrust of building a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Isinulong natin ang Ecological Solid Waste Management Act dahil naniniwala ako na kaya ng ating mga barangay ang mag-segregate, recycle, at upcycle ng mga basura. Maraming sa ating mga LGUs ang hindi pa rin sinusunod ang batas, ngunit nakita naman natin ngayon na mas dumarami pa ang nagsasabuhay nito sa ating komunidad at maging sa sariling bahay. Naniniwala ako na kayang-kaya natin ang zero-waste lifestyle at circular economy bilang bahagi ng ating better normal,” Legarda concluded.
As an online discussion to promote health, environmental consciousness, and climate-adaptive practices, Stories for a Better Normal aims to change the mindset of individuals, families, and communities by demonstrating ways in which a ‘better normal’ can be realized within our communities.
This online discussion is organized in partnership between the Office of Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission, with support from the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, The Climate Reality Project-Philippines, and the Mother Earth Foundation. (CCC)
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