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Green groups appeal for ‘clean and safe’ ‘Undas’

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Filipinos are expected to visit cemeteries after a two-year hiatus

Pro-environment groups this week called on Filipinos to go for “zero waste and toxic-free” observance of this year’s All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day of November 1 and 2, respectively.

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Filipinos are expected to visit cemeteries after a two-year hiatus.

“As good stewards of Mother Nature, let us show how we value and care for her as we remember our deceased loved ones this coming [day of the dead],” said Father Antonio Labiao Jr., executive secretary of Caritas Philippines.

The priest who is also member of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Board of Trustees said it is the public’s “shared responsibility to ensure that our environment, which includes us all, is protected against practices that pollute and degrade it.”

The group EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the public to make this year’s observance “different from the pre-pandemic celebrations marred by tons of garbage left by cemetery visitors and vendors.”

Jove Benosa, zero waste campaigner of the group, urged the public to follow the group’s ten-point cemetery etiquette, or “cemetiquette”:

  • Be mindful of COVID-19 health and safety protocols when you visit the cemetery. Mask up, keep a safe distance, clean your hands, practice good hygiene when coughing or sneezing, and avoid spitting.
  • Clean up the tombs of your departed ones in an eco-friendly manner without burning or dumping trash by the sidewalk or on other people’s graves.
  • When repainting tombs, use lead-safe paints and refrain from dry sanding or scraping surfaces that might be covered in lead paint to avoid spreading lead dust.
  • Instead of disposable plastic bags, bring bayong, tote bags, or other reusable carry bags for your stuff. Refuse plastic bags and wrappers from vendors.
  • Offer locally grown cut flowers (or potted plants and flowers) to the dead. Shun plastic flowers, as well as plastic wrappers.
  • Choose clean-burning candles and do not let the plastic receptacles or holders burn. Don’t light candles with lead-cored wicks to avoid toxic lead emissions.
  • Bring home-cooked meals in reusable carriers and containers, and don’t forget your water jug or tumbler to avoid purchasing water in plastic bottles. Just bring what you need to avoid wastage, and don’t leave leftovers behind.
  • Always keep the surroundings tidy and litter-free by not leaving used face masks, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, food packaging, and food waste behind. Put discards into their proper bins when available, or bring them home for proper sorting, reusing, recycling, composting, or disposal.
  • Do not urinate in public places, particularly on people’s graves. It’s disrespectful and unhygienic.
  • Refrain from smoking or vaping in the cemetery, which will only add to the particles and vapors released by burning candles.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said it will deploy at least 1,500 enforcers from October 28 to November 2 to ensure law and order during the two-day observance.

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