EVERY year, the world celebrates Earth Day as a reminder for the need to care for the only planet we have and to bring to fore the many effects of its continued neglect. People all over the world commemorate this day through “green activities” like tree planting, waterway clean-ups and bicycle parade for clean air.
From the very first declaration of Earth Day by then United States Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 to this day, environmental awareness and sustainability remain everyone's battle cry. Truly, saving Mother Earth is a continuing mission.
In the Philippines, a number of bills have been passed and laws signed to conserve and properly manage our environment and natural resources. These include the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, to name a few. Similarly, different government agencies have been tasked to ensure compliance to and monitor these laws.
The irony though is that as we prepare to celebrate Earth Day and after the celebration of International Day of Forests on March, our country has been faced with a series of forest fires in our protected areas which include Mt. Apo, Mt. Kanlaon, Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Banahaw.
Grasslands, forests and even new tree plantations were razed and hundreds of hectares of land were burned down due to the very dry land brought about by extremely high temperatures. With the united effort of local government units, private companies, stakeholders and the many volunteers in the affected areas, the fires have been contained.
Still, we have to rise above these challenges. As the saying goes, “When you take something from the earth, you must put something back”.
As we celebrate Earth Day this year, with global theme “Trees for the Earth. Let’s get Planting," let us plant trees even if the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago” because ”The second best time is now”. Unfortunately, with most of the country affected by El Nino, we need to postpone our tree planting activities until the rains come down in June.
Be that as it may, here are five simple earth-saving tips you and your family and friends can do for Mother Earth:
Use reusable bags. For your trips to the wet market, grocery or shopping mall, use reusable bags instead of plastic bags. Most plastic is made from non-biodegradable material that when disposed takes years to break down, and when burned releases carbon dioxide.
Be a smart shopper. Buy only what you need -- from food to personal items. This limits carbon emissions and other pollutants from manufacturing operations.
Compost. Instead of throwing kitchen scraps and garden wastes, create a compost pit in your garden or backyard or use a big clay pot or drum. Alternately layer leaves and soil or kitchen scraps and soil, ending up with soil at the topmost layer. After a month, this turns to humus which you can use as fertilizer.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This applies to almost anything you we use at home like water, food, paper, plastic, and even gadgets. Make sure to involve your kids; in time this will become a habit to them.
Plant a tree. Join tree planting activities of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and other non-government and environmental groups. Trees you plant today will help build a better environment for a cleaner and greener future.
Celebrate Earth Day Every Day!
® Public Affairs Office