January is a festival month, and here in Western Visayas, the 3rd week is celebrated as the Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan while the 4th Sunday of the month is for Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City. Both festivals are celebrated in honor of the Sto. Niño, or the Child Jesus.
After taking part in such joyous festivities, revelers would usually leave behind tons of garbage for the local government unit to sweep clean off the main thoroughfares.
The regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6, Livino B. Duran, urges festival goers to be wary of the food packaging and other wastes they could accumulate. “We love to enjoy the music, the fun, the food in times of festivities. But while we’re at it, let us not forget to be responsible. Let us try our best to go for green and sustainable festivals, and contribute to a clean environment,” said Director Duran.
It has been noted that during festivities, people from all walks of life and all ages, display a littering behavior. Such behavior was behind the more than 80 tons of trash collected during the Dinagyang festival highlight alone last year.
“More than eighty (80) tons of garbage in one day is too much. We hope this year we can go as clean as possible. Let us put our trash in proper waste bins, and avoid mixing our wastes. If we can, let us bring our own water bottles and reusable cups to lessen our plastic wastes,” Duran added.
Aside from being a festival month, January is observed by the DENR as National Zero Waste Month with its line bureau, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), on the lead. This CY 2024, the celebration has adopted the theme: “Sustainable Waste Management in Livable Communities: Zero Waste to Philippine Waters by 2040.”
The theme underscored the need to effectively and wisely manage our wastes to keep our communities clean and promote pleasant living conditions, thus, livable. The theme also draws attention to keep our bodies of water free from wastes as this impact on the sustainability of our fishery and aquatic resources which, in turn, could affect our food security.
As part of spreading awareness of the event, the EMB team led an information and education activity dubbed as “Orientation on Solid Waste Management for Kids” in one school in the Pavia, Iloilo on January 12, 2024. Another activity conducted was the E-Waste (or electronic waste) Orientation/Lecture among barangay officials also in Pavia municipality on January 14, 2023. EMB has also partnered with other local government units and NGOs in spreading awareness about Zero Waste Month activity.
Proclamation No. 760, s. 2014, declared January as Zero Waste Month. It encourages all Filipinos to change lifestyle and practices and to shift to a more sustainable way of living.