Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu urged Filipinos to help lessen the impact of the holiday season on the environment by returning to the basics of solid waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Cimatu said that while many consider Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year, it is not so for the environment as the holidays are expected to bring in more waste from all the celebrations.

“The Christmas season produces the biggest volume of garbage in the country, especially in Metro Manila, where the waste generation baseline target for 2019 had already been surpassed as early as June,” Cimatu said.

“Because of this, we really need to cut back on our consumption and waste, and get back to basics to make life easier and to help the environment in the process,” he added.

Cimatu recently revealed that the waste generated in Metro Manila in the first half of 2019—pegged at over 66,000 cubic meters—had already surpassed the annual target of 58,112.31 cubic meters.

In this season of giving, Cimatu recommended the use of eco-friendly wrapping papers and gift bags, such as those made from bamboo, rattan, abaca and buri leaves, as these can be reused.

“The best way to reduce wrapping waste is to wrap a gift in something that’s part of the gift like a reusable tote bag,” Cimatu pointed out.

Since many gifts end up lost, broken or forgotten, Cimatu suggested giving the gift of memory or experience like going to nature parks or visiting an orphanage, home for the elderly or hospice.

“Well thought presents, such as those that a family member actually needs or has always wanted are also more meaningful and don’t go to waste,” he also pointed out.

In hosting gatherings and parties, Cimatu advised people to use washable dinnerware and cutlery instead of paper plates and plastic cups, spoons and forks.

To avoid food wastage, Cimatu urged the public not to buy extra, cook just enough for everyone and make sure to have more vegetables than meat.

Cimatu noted that meat products have larger carbon footprints per calorie than grain or vegetable products.

He said studies have shown that animal agriculture puts a heavy strain on the earth’s finite resources such as land, water and energy, thus causing deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water and air pollution. ###