On the eve of Christmas day, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje called on Filipinos to avoid overindulgence during the holiday celebrations out of sympathy for disaster victims and to reduce the season’s impact on the environment.
“All of us should be mindful of how we hold our celebrations not only to reduce carbon footprint but also in consideration of those affected by recent disasters in the Visayas,” Paje said in a statement.
Although many government agencies and private companies have decided to tone down Christmas festivities, Filipinos cannot totally do away with the tradition of gift-giving, preparing a lot of food and greeting the New Year with fireworks, he said.
But this year, this tradition should “evolve into holding green celebrations, more so this year in light of the devastating events in Central and Eastern Visayas that have left many people with so little to live on,” he said.
He said a “green celebration” of Christmas would entail giving practical gifts made of eco-friendly materials and wrapped in recycled paper or reusable bags, and preparing only sufficient amount of food to avoid wastage.
He added that seedlings and plants would make great gifts to send this Christmas, and tree-planting could be a fun, festive and meaningful way to spend the holidays.
“Planted trees are a lasting legacy for future generations, and these could help restore our environment and mitigate climate change especially in our uplands and along coastal areas,” he said.
For the New Year merrymaking, Paje asked local officials to heed a recent directive by the Department of the Interior and Local Government to designate firecracker and fireworks exhibition zones.
Apart from ensuring public safety, these designated zones will also discourage excessive spending on fireworks, reduce post-revelry debris in the streets and minimize air pollution, he said.
Meanwhile, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines issued the following eco-friendly tips on how to have a green Christmas:
• Use LED (light-emitting diode) Christmas lights;
• Buy local products;
• Bring recyclable bags when gift shopping;
• Make your own Christmas cards;
• Use biodegradable and smoke-free soy candles;
• Use recycled décor;
• Give green gifts;
• Go one degree up by raising the air conditioner’s thermostat by one degree Celsius;