Filipino celebrities are raising their voice about our growing garbage problem

August 29, 2018 - 4:44 PM
Manila Baywalk
A cleanup operation last year that turned out to be for "publicity" only (The Star/File photo)

Pollution is no longer a topic on the sidelines as Filipino celebrities contribute to the growing conversation about the increasing number of trash in the Philippines and in the world.

The world produced an alarming 448 million tons of trash in 2015, according to a National Geographic report.

Data from 4 Ocean, an international environment agency, also found that every year, at least 1.4 billion pounds of this ends up in the oceans, subsequently infecting and killing precious marine life.

Meanwhile, the country is the third biggest producer of plastic pollution in 2017, as stated by Greenpeace Philippines.

Raising awareness

Celebrities have spoken up on the severity of the garbage problem, such as Luis Manzano, Solenn Heussaff and Iza Calzado.

Hugo! ? About 3 weeks ago, we lost our handsome furry baby and Ben’s best friend, Hugo. He loved all humans so much but ironically it was human behaviour that orchestrated his demise. Hugo loved to socialise with humans, unable to contain his excitement at every greeting with his whimper and vibrating little tail. His attentiveness and obedient nature made an impression of intelligence and his affectionate gaze conveyed a complex soul. Hugo was an explorer always wanting to march forward, but never without others. We took him on many weekend trips to The Farm, the beach, on dive trips and on a few hikes. He had a wilful nature. His conquests include a sparrow kill, trapping a (5 star hotel’s) peacock and humping various celebrities’ legs. However he could never quite catch any cat. Hugo was gone too soon at the age of 5 and a half. He ingested part of a plastic bag that likely contained some leftover food (someone’s misplaced litter), when he was on a walk or off leash at a park. We only discovered his cause of death from the autopsy. As we write this, we are still filled with sadness, anger and guilt. I am no stranger to death but this is the first time I have lost a loved one that I am fully responsible for. The shoulda, woulda, coulda of the situation haunts me every single day. We are writing this to share the realisations we’ve had from this experience. 1. Reduce the use of plastic. Everyone knows that plastic kills sea life but this has been a stark wake up call that plastic can kill in our home. (The PHL is a Top 5 global consumer of plastic and its set to double within 8 years) 2. Let’s pick up other people’s litter. We should set a positive example if we want others to follow suit. 3. If a pet is sick, ask the vet if she is certain of the diagnosis. If not certain then push for more testing. Our vet conducted a barium x-ray study to identify harder to find objects in his gastro tract when it was too late. We hope this incident becomes an educational anecdote reminding us that our day to day decisions have a far reaching ripple effect. Wishing everyone a happy and mindful Sunday. If you have a dog, please give him an extra hug for us. ❤️

A post shared by Iza Calzado (@missizacalzado) on

Solving our own trash problem

These figures concern Filipinos because they translate to the many problems we encounter every day. For example, one of the primary causes for the worsening flood situations in the city is trash that clog drains.

The most evident consequence of our poor solid waste management system is the condition of the Pasig River in Manila.

It was featured in National Geographic’s special issue titled “Planet or Plastic” as one of the fifteen most polluted rivers on Earth. Yangtze River in China holds the top spot.

Back in 1990, this tributary that feeds Manila Bay and Laguna Lake is considered dead. Nine years later, the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission was formed to help revive it and eventually the Manila Bay as well.

Some local governments have also taken baby steps by implementing no-plastic bag policies in their localities, both in the capital and in the provinces.

A growing number of average Filipinos are also slowly adapting a “zero-waste lifestyle” wherein they replace products that are harmful to the environment with more sustainable alternatives for daily use.

Popular examples of these are metal and bamboo straws, wooden toothbrushes and eco-friendly shopping bags.

Many people have criticized this movement in recent years, saying it’s only reserved for medium to high income earners since most of these products are costly.

According to National Geographic, the polluted areas of Binondo, Baseco complex and Manila Bay are also highlighted via Instagram photos last May.

In June, an installation art of a beached whale in Cavite depicting a dead whale with its mouth filled with plastic won several awards in the Cannes Festival in France.

The art piece made by Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines and advertising agency Dentsu Jayme Syfu manifests how plastic pollution takes the life of many sea creatures in the world.