'Citizen-scientists' pick up trash, help collect data on International Coastal Clean-Up Day

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
'Citizen-scientists' pick up trash, help collect data on International Coastal Clean-Up Day
Volunteer participants from non-profit organization CORA and Watsons Philippines and its partner-suppliers helped clean up the shores of the protected area Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area or Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park on International Coastal Clean-Up Day observed last September 17, 2022.
Watsons Philippines / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds of participants wearing different colored shirts, from white and black to green, were seen picking up trash that washed ashore on the coast of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) on the early morning of September 17. These were participants to the the International Coastal Clean-up Day annually observed every third Saturday of September. 

Watsons Philippines, together with non-profit organization Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA), took care of one part of the coast of 175-hectare LPPCHEA also known as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park, where their participants picked up non-biodegradable trash, from water bottles, styrofoam, discarded bags, a missing pair of shoe or slipper, to the ubiquitous sachets. 

"Did you know that in the Philippines alone, they say that every single day, 160 million sachets are consumed and thrown away? Those data and numbers actually come from days like this," shared CORA founder Antoinette Taus.  

"So when we're able to collect this data, not only are we able to support lobbying for policies that can support a sustainable future, but also able to help different groups from non-profit organizations and companies to brands find better solutions," the former actress added. 

'Citizen-scientists, biodiversity heroes'

Taus called the participants of the coastal clean-up as citizen-scientists who not only did good as citizens who helped clean trash, but also "scientists" who helped gathered data on how much trash ended up on the shore of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park.

The park is actually a globally recognized protected area, having been named as a Ramsar site under the Ramsar convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  

It is home to different species of mangroves, as well as temporary stop of 41 species of migratory birds that fly the East Asian–Australasian Migratory Flyway coming from as far as China, Japan, and Siberia. According to the 2018 report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, among these birds are the Little Egret, Black-Crowned Night Heron, and the Common Moorhen.

Taus stressed the importance of picking up the litter that are scattered in the protected area because these are harmful to its flora and fauna, even causing death. 

"Birds, when they see anything floating in the water and ground, automatically, they will pick that up, eat it, consume it. Sometimes, those even get transferred to their lungs. Once pumasok, 'di na nalalabas. Those actually cause the deaths of many birds, some of which are endangered species. There are also mangroves, bamboo forests. Apparently, there are coral reefs that are still surviving in this area. So, it's a biodiversity hotspot na talagang kailangan protektahan," she stressed. 
Taus added, "Hindi lang kayo ocean warrior, citizen scientists, kundi biodiversity heroes today." 

First-ever refilling station

Instead of a company outing, some employees of Watsons Philippines volunteered to join the coastal clean-up along with some of the health and wellness brand's partner-supplier employees. Donning bright green T-shirts, the participants from the Watsons Philippines group were able to collect a dozen or more of sacks with their collected trash. 

Watsons Philippines Public Relations and Sustainability Director Maria Victoria H. Encarnacion said it is the first-time for the company to participate in the international coastal clean-up activity. 

"This is our first time na ginawa that's why we're all excited. In fact, this year, wala kaming employee outing. Ito ang ginawa naming outing. This is where we brought our employees to do their share of cleaning up the ocean," Encarnacion noted. 

As a health and wellness company, she noted that it is their obligation to help, especially since they have been gearing toward sustainability and doing their part in taking care of the planet. 

Apart from being conscientious with their electricity consumption and reducing their carbon footprint, Encarnacion said that the company is now leaning toward providing their patrons with sustainable choices.

"Come December, we will have our first-ever Refill Station, so you don't need to buy a full product anymore. You can now just come to the store and refill your own. This is going to be in North Edsa The Block," she shared. 

The brand's Customer Director Jared de Guzman added that the company will be refurbishing that particular store which they call as the "Store of the Watsons Future" that will feature "an area full of sustainable choices."

"I think it was a natural progression because we were already selling refill packs in our stores. It was only natural for our customers to be able to refill it in the store. We are actually indeed starting it with out Watsons brand called Naturals by Watsons," he said. 

De Guzman explained that refilling is more affordable because the buyer does not have to pay for the full packaging. By doing so, she saves up to 20 to 30% off an item. He shared that the company is also getting in touch with their suppliers who might want to participate in their refilling campaign. They will be experimenting with the refilling station a bit earlier than December, somewhere in their store in Megamall. 
RELATED: Rising fuel prices? Brands share sustainability practices to save money, energy





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