Politics and waste
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas () - January 24, 2009 - 12:00am

It is in the news again. Certain Cebu leaders appear to have agreed on another site for a landfill, this time in Consolacion. Having the same conventional mentality like some of their Metro Manila counterparts, certain Cebu leaders think that having a landfill is effective waste management.

Despite the fact, let us stress that, despite the repeating reality that landfills never last, that the continuing volume of waste makes landfills useless in the short and long term, politicians still opt for this type of waste management. Why?

The San Mateo Landfill and the case of other landfills elsewhere are well documented. Have the Cebuano leaders not read or have they not be properly advised about the negative costs outweighing any positive (if any) benefits of landfills?

Land is not meant for waste. Land is not intended to be wasted. Land is for people to be used as their residence, their farms, their plants, their schools. Land was never intended to be the home of irresponsible people’s waste.

Landfills do not only waste useful, productive land. Landfills pollute and smell. Cebu leaders should ask those who advise and promise them (that the next landfill in their area is going to be eco-friendly, harmless, and sanitary) to show them one, even just one, existing landfill in the country that is so. Cebu leaders should also ask the landfill advisers and advocates how long landfills lasted and whether, in fact, landfills are worth their costs and whether any landfill has eradicated the waste problem.

Landfills are also expensive to construct and to maintain. How many millions of pesos will the Cebu leaders have to set aside from their budget just to transfer the harmful, stinky garbage to the landfills? In turn, how many more extra garbage trucks will have to be bought (again, additional budget allocation) and how many more personnel will have to be hired just to luxuriously collect, transfer and dispose of the garbage to the landfills?

Perhaps the Cebu leaders should themselves make an actual trip to the existing landfills in the country to see and to smell for themselves the merits and demerits of having landfills within their communities. Maybe they may wish to interview those in the vicinity of the landfills or they can ask the health personnel in the area about the health costs incurred by landfills.

If these Cebu leaders listen to their constituents, perhaps, they should also first consult the people in the communities near the proposed landfill and offer them honest and real facts and details about existing landfills and their costs and benefits, if any.

The alternative route to take is one that less traveled but one that has to be taken because it is the only way to sustainably and inexpensively cope with waste. People create waste and so people should themselves be responsible for their own waste. Have a people-based waste management system that will provide education and training to people of all levels about how to responsibly manage their own waste.

Waste segregation is a very inexpensive, doable, and sustainable waste management scheme. In fact, waste segregation will bring in benefits and profits from recycling, from the production of new items from waste, from the productive use of lands and nearby water sources that will not be wastefully used as landfills, from the absence of pollution and waste-related health ailments, among other benefits.

Together with the home and schools, the Church should be the prime mover of sustainable and effective waste management schemes. A dirty environment speaks so much of the absence of proper values and responsible stewardship. The Church should be engaged in protecting God's creation and should oppose any move to have more useless, expensive landfills. Instead, the Church, together with the people, the NGOs, the responsible leaders and politicians should slowly but surely lead the way to alternative waste management where people finally become stewards of the earth through responsible personal waste management practice.

Politics and waste, many say, are one and the same. Both are wasteful, both are dirty, both stink, and both irresponsibly waste funds and resources. Both also contaminate the values of the people and the environment where they operate.

Where responsible people manage their waste, there you will also have responsible and honest leaders and politicians. Or where you have responsible leaders and politicians, there, you will also have responsible followers and no waste problem.

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Email: cherryb_thefreeman@yahoo.com

CEBU CERTAIN CEBU HAVE THE CEBUANO LANDFILL LANDFILLS LEADERS MANAGEMENT METRO MANILA PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE WASTE
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