Clean-ups not enough, collaborative efforts needed in environment protection, says NGO

July 23, 2023 - 10:58 AM
1458
Volunteers clean up the shores at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park on July 19, 2023. (Uniqlo/Released)

Former child star and humanitarian Antoinette Taus, founder of Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA), emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts from different sectors in protecting the environment in a coastal clean-up on Wednesday.

“It’s sad kasi when it comes to plastic pollution, there’s a lot of finger pointing […] but it actually involves everyone,” she said.

According to its website, Planet CORA is a “non-profit organization dedicated to creating sustainable programs to help solve global issues centered on hunger, poverty, inequality, and climate change.”

The group partnered with Uniqlo who said it was their mission to help the planet, society and its people.

“If you’re also one person, you cannot really do [the clean-up] on your own,” Reiny Vergara of Uniqlo Philippines said.

“By partnering with CORA, a champion for sustainable development, we aim to make a lasting impact on the environment and inspire others to take action. We believe in the collective power of clothing to transform lives, communities, and create a cleaner, healthier coastal ecosystem for all,” said Geraldine Sia, Uniqlo Philippines’ Chief Operating Officer.

Uniqlo held its first coastal clean-up where about 30 of its staff participated.

The clean-up was held on July 19, Wednesday, along the shores of Manila Bay at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park in celebration of Plastic-free July. Over a hundred customers, volunteers, UNIQLO staff and media guests joined the clean-up drive where more than 300 kilos of mixed waste was collected.

Volunteers clean up the shores at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park on July 19, 2023. (Interaksyon/Ingrid Alexandrea Delgado)

Reunion of volunteers

According to Taus, the event served as a venue for old and new volunteers to practice their advocacy.

“The best part is being able to talk to the volunteers, to hear their insights, to hear their experiences,” Taus said.

Isabelle Matanis, 23, said it was her first time to join a coastal clean-up drive.

“It’s an important thing for me, para makita rin ng tao na it’s a good habit na ‘wag mag tapon sa kung saan-saan,” she said.

For many volunteers, the experience was bittersweet. On one hand, they get to help the planet, on the other, they get to see their everyday products on the shore.

“‘Yung pasok ng basura, galing talaga sa commercial compared sa province,” one volunteer remarked.

Sustainability

While encouraging coastal clean-ups, Taus also acknowledge that it is not the ultimate solution for the country’s plastic problem.

“Alam natin na hindi clean-up ang solution, it’s really reducing our use, the elimination of single-use plastics, refilling and reusing talaga,” Taus said.

She added that this initiative must come from the government, the private sector and the communities.

“We hope for systemic change and business unusual so we can do things together,” the humanitarian said.

According to Vergara, this is something shared by the brand.

Antoinette Taus of Planet CORA poses with Uniqlo’s Rain Vergara and Mina Cunanan (Interaksyon/Ingrid Alexandrea Delgado)

“It’s very important for Uniqlo to collaborate with organizations and partners that are aligned with our mission,” she said.

This is good news for the organization that sees the importance of collaborating with brands that promote sustainability.

“At CORA, we really take pride and are so grateful to companies that place importance on sustainability,” Taus added.