PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - August 18, 2018 - 12:00am

As part of Cebu City government’s waste initiatives to gradually minimize the use of plastics, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña signed a memo banning single-use plastics in all Cebu City government offices.

Plastic bags, straws, cups, plates, spoons and forks, styrofoam and the like are banned. Food vendors can no longer use single-use plastic containers for dine-in and take-out and customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable containers.

We join others in commending the Cebu City Government for this good initiative. May more environmental protective policies be enacted and implemented not only in Cebu City and the whole province but throughout our country.

Plastics are everywhere - convenient, light, cheap, durable, and versatile. However, plastics take years to decompose, even if at all. Since plastics are highly polluting and bad for our world, it is best to ban plastics soonest and allow eco-friendly plastic alternatives to be produced and used soonest.

Here are some examples of eco-alternatives to plastic packaging, from

1) glass, 2) reusable shopping bags (canvas, cotton, hemp, leather, fiber, and woven plastic with nylon ones that can be folded to fit pockets; 3) milk protein - casein - can help produce a biodegradable plastic to make insulation, furniture cushions, packaging, and other products, complements the compressibility and stiffness of polystyrene, does not crack easily and less toxic; 4) chicken feathers or hair and wool that have keratin. The keratin-based plastic is proven to be more resistant to tearing than other plastics made from soy, starch, and other agricultural sources and are cost-effective, renewable, and fully biodegradable; and, 5) liquid wood which looks, feels and acts like plastics but unlike petroleum-based plastic, is biodegradable and suitable for various product packaging and as substitute to make toys, golf tees, and hi-fi speaker boxes.

Refer also to for Saurav Rajbhandari’s discussion of three types of “environmentally friendly” plastics: 1) bioplastics, 2) biodegradable plastics, and, 3) eco/recycled plastics.

Aside from plastic ban, by now, everyone knows the merits and benefits of sound waste management and implementation.

So much waste dividends (the savings from present waste management collection and disposal systems) can be diverted instead to provide food, jobs, shelter and more to our needy. Landfill areas can be used for more productive alternatives, like gardens, farms, housing, among others. Health and clean environment will be beneficial for all. Effective waste management and implementation can move all forward to a sustainable future, a livable city, province, and country.

Creating a sustainable environment for today and tomorrow is not only the responsibility of local and national governments, however. All of us need to share and contribute to creating a clean, sustainable, livable environment.

We would like to shout out, for example, to all schools and offices, private and public to consider a “no-white” policy for school and office wear.

Many schools require students to wear white uniforms (white blouses, white shirts including white socks). Washing these white items needs so much more soap and water, not good at all for our environment. Just pay attention to the advertisements about which brand can make white items whiter. Pay closer attention, however, to the polluting effects of chemicals used for cleaning, laundry, and washing.

We also want to call the attention of soap, laundry, dishwashing and other producers to develop products that will be eco-friendly and to eliminate polluting chemicals in their products that will harm our water and other resources.

We also hope the DENR and LGUs can provide generous incentives and rewards to producers, schools, offices, companies, other groups and organizations with effective eco-initiatives and good practices.

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