Eco-Buddies Program launched in P’que
In the tradition of “starting them young”, Parañaque’s schoolchildren are now being initiated to environmental protection work, mainly by way of “garbage volume reduction through waste segregation”.
Studies show that only 25% of household garbage ought to be thrown (residual waste); 40% can be recycled; 35% is biodegradable which can be composted or transformed into organic fertilizer.
To make the program “more fun and at the same time productive” for the schoolchildren, their families and teachers, the Parañaque City Government headed by Mayor Florencio Bernabe, Jr. and partners, Dept. of Education-Parañaque City Schools Division and Philippine Airlines launched its Eco-Buddies-Save the Parañaque Environment Program starting off at the Parañaque Elem. School-Central Campus on September 7, 2012.
The objectives of the program are as follows: 1)To educate households to conscientiously practice waste segregation; 2)To ultimately reduce the cost of transporting garbage; 3)To instill the value of environmental concern and preservation of health; 4)To improve current practices; and 5)To reduce the risk of pollution to our environment.
Under said program, all pupils and teachers in public schools in the city automatically become members of Eco-Buddies. On “Eco Day” (e.g. every 2nd and 4th Friday of the month), members bring their recyclables to school where they will be bought by accredited buyers. The members will not receive cash. Instead, the proceeds of the sale will be recorded on the members’ passbook with every peso value converted to “rewards points” on a 1:1 ratio or Php1.00 = 1 rewards point.
The acceptable recyclable wastes are: Paper (old newspaper, comics, magazines, telephone directory etc.); aluminum cans (beer, soft drink, juice); PET bottles (mineral water, soft drink, juice; plastic bottles and containers (shampoo, conditioner, oil, vinegar, soy sauce etc.); copper (tanso); steel (bakal); cardboard boxes and cartons; glass bottles and tin cans (wash and dry first to eliminate odors: Patis, wine, catsup, sardines, milk, meat loaf, corned beef, canned fruits, etc);
On “Redemption Day” (twice a year, e.g. June and December) an “Eco-Buddies Bus” will visit the school campus and members can redeem/exchange their “rewards points” to items/goods which can be either educational toys; school items (school uniforms, notebooks, crayons, coloring books, clipboards, pencils or paper); or basic commodities like sugar, rice, coffee, noodles etc.
Coordinating the program is the Office of Councilor Benjo Bernabe. Support departments include the city’s Solid Waste & Environmental Sanitation Office (SWAESO), Parañaque Tourism Office; Youth & Sports Development Office and Public Information Office. The other stake holders are barangay government units and PTCAs (parents, teachers and community associations).
“By inculcating in children and adults the value of waste segregation at source, likewise composting and proper disposal, we not only decrease the volume of garbage in our City; we also realize savings on the cost of hauling; we make our community cleaner and healthier, that is with less rats, flies and mosquitoes and disease incidence; and last but not the least, we contribute to the worldwide effort to protect the environment and halt global warming.” Mayor Jun Bernabe said.
A number of homeowners associations in Parañaque City have been able to pay their bills for utilities, maintenance, security and other services and expenses using the proceeds of the sale of their organic fertilizers and the recyclables.
In past years, Mayor Jun Bernabe was conferred the prestigious Anvil Award of Excellence in Public Relations for Environmental Protection and the LGLA-Local Government Leadership Award for Outstanding Mayor of the Philippines while his city was given three prestigious awards by the Alliance for Healthy Cities namely, International Award for Healthy Cities with Great Potentials, International Award for Creative Developments in Healthy Cities and International Award for Healthy Cities with Good Dynamics.