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10 things I learned at the first Sustainability Summit Manila


"Sustainability" is an umbrella term that covers various aspects pertaining to the use of natural resources so they will not depleted. The goal is to have resources available for the use of future generations.

At the first Sustainability Summit Manila held last month, various individuals and organizations came together to share, help, and encourage everyone to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Organized by the Intramurous Administration, the Department of Tourism, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and Old Manila Eco Market, Sustainability Summit Manila had Mother Earth Foundation Philippines’ founding member Sonia Mendoza as its main speaker.

 

Illustration: Jannielyn Ann Bigtas/GMA News
Illustration: Jannielyn Ann Bigtas/GMA News

There was a lot to information to process and could leave one feeling overwhelmed, if not discouraged, to be honest.

But the most important thing we picked up? There is always something we could do to help Mother Earth.

Allow us to share some of the things we’ve learned:

1. There is a legislation in place. The R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 aims to protect the environment through proper solid waste management practices.

In fact, it’s considered a landmark legislation because it clearly offers solutions regarding the sustainable management of solid waste in Philippine cities and municipalities.

2. It's more effective if you talk to people in person. People are more inclined to listen and take action if facts are explained to them and in person.

According to Mendoza, doing door-to-door and conducting information campaigns are the best way to turn people in and get them to do their part: waste segregation, getting waste collectors to pick up the segregated trash once a day, and so it goes.

The results are amazing: Communities that embraced MEF’s zero waste program have managed to cut their waste management expenses. Barangay Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City for instance, saved P5 million in one year after it built an MRF (materials recovery facility). This got rid of the need to spend on hiring too many garbage trucks to haul trash.

Under Section 32 of the law, all barangays are required to have an MRF where recyclables and compostables are separated from the rest of the garbage.

3. A zero waste community is a form of sustainable community, as the latter also takes into consideration not just waste management but also urban infrastructure, social equity, and municipal government. This means that to be able to build a truly sustainable community, many or all aspects within it should be working together. Individuals, families, government, civic organizations and institutions, and businesses have specific roles to play.

4. Grow your own food. Urban Agriculture PH’s Earwin Belen encouraged everyone to grow their own food because it is healthier, you get to eat fresh produce, plus you get additional exercise and sun from all the gardening.

You only need to spend money on seeds, plants, and supplies to be able to get produce for a long time. Lastly, it's great for the environment as it helps reduce the carbon footprint related to transporting produce from source to market.

5. Coastal cleanups are just a band-aid solution. It’s good to participate in coastal cleanups — they will help you become more conscious of your consumption and will open your eyes to just how much plastic is used for simple packaging. But coastal cleanups don’t really address the root cause of the problem, which is that plastic is still being widely used as packaging material.

6. Involve the government and big businesses. It’s easy to play the blame game and point the finger towards huge businesses and government, but does that help in changing their minds and their practices and policies? The truth is, we have to involve them if we need them to change. Businesses are being encouraged to create sustainability programs for the benefit of people and planet. One way to encourage them to build stronger pro-environment programs would be to support the brands and organizations that have these.

7. Uphold the Extended Producer Responsibility strategy. EPR is a way by which manufacturers can become more responsible for the packaging of their products up to the end of its life cycle. Presently, there is no pending bill on it but this is something that individuals and organizations can push legislators to pass a law so businesses will become more responsible for their products and not burden the people and government for the disposal of their trash.

8. When traveling, consider meeting a community and helping them out. In place of the usual pleasure-based trips that usually take something away from the destination, choose a tour that will allow you to meet the locals, participate in their culture, and help them out by way of volunteering. MAD Travels (Make A Difference Travels), as an example, can arrange such trips.

9. Support fashion brands that promote circular fashion and re-commerce because it helps reduce consumption and mitigates the negative impact of fashion production on the environment. "Re-commerce" simply means buying and selling pre-owned goods, not unlike ukay-ukay.

"Circular fashion," meanwhile, refers to fashion items that are made, sourced, produced and distributed such that people are able to use them for the longest possible time. People should also be able to dispose of these items safely when they are no longer usable.

10. We're running our of time. If you feel that you are being called to work for the benefit of our planet, do it right away because we are running out of time. Everyone should be doing their part, no matter how small.

It was clear during the Summit that the movement needs more people, so talk to people and approach those who are already doing something. Your part can be as simple as helping promote the practice and being conscious about your own lifestyle and practices. — LA, GMA News

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