A pro-environment group in the Philippines appealed to the faithful not to leave any trail of trash in popular pilgrimage sites and tourist destinations as they take a vacation this week.
“We request the faithful to aspire for an eco-friendly litter-free Holy Week as we recollect the passion of Christ, seek forgiveness for past sins and rekindle our faith through prayers, penance and acts of charity,” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.
In a statement, the group urged those intending to visit excursion spots during the four-day long weekend to follow the eco-mantra “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but memories, kill nothing but time.”
Filipinos this week are flocking to pilgrimage sites and tourist destinations after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to take a breather from the sizzling summer in the cities.
“For the sake of our fellow pilgrims and Mother Earth, please observe COVID-19 health protocols and avoid all forms of littering,” said Lucero.
Filipino Catholics usually visit at least seven churches to pray, take part in the Way of the Cross and relgious processions as part of the traditional Holy Week observance in the country.
The EcoWaste Coalition reminded travelers to observe an eco-friendly retreat by from avoiding single-use plastics, bringing water in reusable containers, car pooling, conserving food, water and electricity, not smoking or vaping, and by not leaving any garbage behind.
“Regardless of where your destination is, please take this reminder to heart ‘take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but memories, kill nothing but time’ and be an eco-friendly tourist at all times,” said Lucero.
The pro-environment group reminded the faithful of the statement of the country’s Catholic bishops that “We are not owners of the earth.”
“We are [the earth’s] stewards, to keep and cherish and nurture its resources not only for ourselves but for future generations,” said the bishops in a 2015 statement.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines released the statement “Stewards, Not Owners” following the celebrated encyclical letter “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home” by Pope Francis.
According to the EcoWaste Coalition, litter is not only unsightly, but also unhygienic and polluting as litter attracts flies and rats and causes the spread of diseases, while creating a rotting smell from food waste.
Litter, especially single-use plastic bags, can be blown or washed into waterways and the oceans, harming marine life, the group said.
Based on the group’s pre-pandemic monitoring of popular pilgrimage churches and shrines, among the common items left by uncaring visitors are used plastic bags, bottles, cups and cutlery, soiled paper and tissue, cigarette butts, Styrofoam food containers, picnic leftovers and improvised beddings.