5 ways Filipinos can make cemetery visits clutter-free

October 26, 2021 - 11:34 AM
Baguio cemetery
Relatives and caretakers clean graves at the Baguio Memorial Cemetery ahead of the observance of All Souls’ and Saints’ Days on November 1 and 2. (The STAR/Andy Zapata Jr)

As Filipinos begin to visit their dearly departed loved ones in cemeteries before its closure on the November holidays, an environment watchdog appealed for them to observe proper waste management as a form of respect for the dead.

EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public to keep the resting areas of the deceased trash-free when they go to cemeteries, memorial parks and columbaria before the government closes it from October 29 to November 2 for preventive measures against COVID-19.

“Aside from the minimum public health protocols that all visitors must observe, we enjoin everyone to leave nothing but flowers and prayers in the cemeteries,” Jove Benosa, the group’s zero waste campaigner, said in a release.

“Littering in cemeteries disrespects the dead, the living and Mother Earth, too, and can no longer be tolerated,” he added.

The group has been annually monitoring the “Undas” season before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and according to them, there would be a “massive generation of mixed discards in various cemeteries,” especially in Metro Manila.

“Piles of garbage in every nook and corner, overflowing trash bins, and the truckloads of rubbish being hauled from cemeteries have become a familiar sight during the past observance of Undas,” Benosa noted.

“Pandemic or no pandemic, we are called to observe Undas in a respectful way that will not transform our cemeteries into instant garbage dumps,” he added.

The group urged those in charge of cemeteries to strongly enforce the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act which explicitly bans and penalizes littering, open dumping and the open burning of discards.

It also proposed the following environmental-friendly initiatives for those who will visit their departed loved ones:

  • Eat at home to avoid bringing food to the graveyard, which may increase chances of littering. 
  • If food is really needed, bring only a right amount of it and put it in a reusable container. 
  • Bring a portable water container to avoid buying water in bottles.
  • Use a reusable carry bag instead of single-use plastic bags in bringing your essentials. 
  • Strictly leave no trash or litter behind. 

The group also called on politicians and political aspirants to refrain from flooding cemeteries and their vicinities with tarpaulins and other materials to keep the places litter-free.