Church and ecological groups on Saturday paraded the "bayong" as the ecological weapon of choice against global warming, on the eve of the “Global Work Party" seeking solutions to the climate crisis by Oct. 10 (10/10/10).
The Caloocan diocese's ecology ministry and EcoWaste Coalition gathered at Langaray Public Market in Caloocan City to urge citizens to use the bayong (traditional native bag).
“We can break our obsession with plastic bags by switching to the ever versatile ‘bayong’ that our elders were accustomed to before our society fell in love with anything convenient and disposable to the detriment of our fragile environment," Romy Hidalgo of EcoWaste said on the group's blog site.
Caloocan bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. commended the Langaray market vendors for heeding the call for ecological stewardship by encouraging consumers to drop the plastic bags, which are non-renewable, oil-consuming and mostly non-biodegradable.
The Samahang Pagkakaisa ng mga Tindera sa Talipapa (SPTT) moved to observe every Monday beginning October 11 as “No Plastic Bag Day."
“Let us take pride in using the bayong in the palengke [market] and even in shopping malls knowing that we are saving the planet, ourselves and the future generations by cutting our craving for plastic bags and the ensuing emissions," he said.
SPTT president Rowell Gan earlier noted markets' heavy use of plastic bags, which may harm the environment. The ecological groups said switching from plastic bags to bayong will help in attaining the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which scientists set at 350 parts per million (the current level being 390 ppm).
Citing information from the Worldwatch Institute, the groups said that in the United States alone, some 12 million barrels of non-renewable petroleum oil are required to produce the 100 billion bags consumed annually. Worldwide, some 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags are consumed annually or over one million bags per minute with millions ending up as litter.
In the Philippines, government data indicate that plastic comprises 15 percent of Metro Manila’s solid waste, with food and kitchen waste accounting for about 45 percent, paper 16 percent, glass and wood 9 percent and other discards 15 percent.
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, some 756,986 kilos of garbage were collected during the coastal cleanup operations in 2009, with plastic bags constituting 300,176 kilos or almost half of the retrieved garbage from shorelines and waterways.
“Indeed, we can help in reversing the statistics and in stabilizing the earth’s climate by shifting to eco-friendly lifestyle starting by saying no to plastic bags and shifting to the bayong," the groups said.
Just last month, the DENR and Earth Day Network Philippines, Inc. launched "Pagbabag ko, Pagbabago!" a reusable bag campaign.
Also last month, Pampanga Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. introduced Resolution 783 in the House of Representatives. House Resolution 783 provides for the phase-out of plastic bags as packing materials of goods sold or disposed by sari-sari stores, market vendors, department stores, and similar establishments, prescribing penalties therefore, and for other purposes, the Sun Star reported on its website.
In the bill, Gonzales refers to Section 16, Article 11 of the 1987 Constitution, which declares “the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."
“The use of plastics is one of the causes of ecological degradation, the same being non-biodegradable; the use of plastic bags as packing materials of goods sold by business establishments can be attributed as one main factor in the environmental problems we are facing," Gonzales was quoted as saying in the report.