Trash, pollution: The dark side of PH holiday celebrations | Inquirer News

Trash, pollution: The dark side of PH holiday celebrations

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 10:08 AM December 28, 2023

Trash, pollution: The dark side of PH holiday celebrations


MANILA, Philippines—In the Philippines, while New Year festivities bring joy and hope, there’s a different, less pleasant tune playing alongside these—the rising crescendo of trash and pollution that accompanies the season’s revelry.

Every year, it is part of Filipino tradition to flock to local parks, like the historic Rizal Park in Manila or the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City, to celebrate New Year.


GRAPHIC Jerome Cristobal

In many parts of the country, loud and huge street parties are held to celebrate the holidays. An example would be Manila’s Tondo district, known for its yearly street party.


Regardless of the place where Filipinos welcome and celebrate the holiday season, a common outcome unfolds: the annual aftermath of truckloads of garbage collected in the wake of the celebrations.

Truckloads of trash

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) previously noted that the celebration of the holiday season “creates loads of extra trash and solid waste beyond what is normally generated.”

“[E]specially with the Filipino practice of gift giving, having special family meals, Christmas parties, and various holiday events,” the government agency said.

Data showed that the country generates 61,000 metric tons (MT) of solid waste daily, which includes 163 million plastic sachet packets, 48 million shopping bags, and 45 million thin-film bags that are thrown away.

GRAPHIC Jerome Cristobal

Unfortunately, the DENR said only 33 percent of those are disposed of in landfills and dumps. At least 35 percent are leaked into the open environment and oceans, which damages marine life and poses risks to human health.

“The holiday spirit extends until New Year in the streets, with the air thick with pyrotechnic smoke and mounds of garbage everywhere, especially the morning after,” the DENR said.


In 2014, 42 truckloads of garbage were collected by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) from different parts of Metro Manila following the New Year’s Eve revelry.

Most of the collected trash, according to MMDA, were plastic bags, spoiled and discarded food, and exploded firecracker wrappers.

The truckloads of garbage collected in Metro Manila alone during New Year have become part of an enduring tradition in the following years.

In 2018, various New Year’s Eve celebrations generated 48 truckloads of trash.

READ: LOOK: 2018 revelry leaves mounds of garbage in Metro

“The mixed garbage piled up along roads and sidewalks is a stark reminder of the need to step up efforts at all levels to counter the throw-away culture with a sustainable lifestyle that will, among other things, respect and care for Mother Earth, conserve resources, safeguard human health and, of course, prevent and reduce trash,” said EcoWaste Coalition zero waste campaigner Jove Benosa last January.

Cutting back waste during holidays

Data from the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) showed that the projected waste generated in Metro Manila last year was 3.6 million tons. This year, the NSWMC projected that trash generated in the metropolis would reach 3.7 million tons.

GRAPHIC Jerome Cristobal

To prevent adding more waste during the holiday season, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to follow the following tips:

  • Compost holiday food waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells, and other organics into nutrient-rich fertilizer or soil additives.
  • Keep compostables separated from non-biodegradable and recyclable discards.
  • Avoid food from spoiling by sharing excess food with the poor, disaster survivors, and with individuals servicing your neighborhood.
  • Save Christmas cards, gift labels, wrappers, bows and ribbons, boxes, and red packets for the next gift-giving, or store them for school art and craft projects and other uses.
  • Reuse empty glass jars as containers for candies and homemade jams and preserves.
  • Give used bottles, cans, corrugated boxes, and other recyclables to itinerant waste pickers.
  • Turn empty cans into do-it-yourself (DIY) alternative noisemakers to usher in the New Year instead of dangerous and polluting firecrackers and fireworks.

Responsible e-waste practices

Aside from following various tips to reduce trash following New Year’s celebrations, EcoWaste Coalition also amplified its call for responsible electronic waste management during the holiday season.

E-waste, according to the waste and pollution watchdog, is composed of discarded electronic and electrical products and presents significant hazards when improperly handled or disposed of.

GRAPHIC Jerome Cristobal

“Committed to slashing the production and disposal of e-waste, the coalition emphasizes the critical role of conscientious consumer decisions in safeguarding the environment and human wellbeing,” it added.

Among the practical tips offered by  EcoWaste Coalition to cub the accumulation of e-waste during the holiday season are:

  • Using energy-saving LED lights for decorations, as they consume less energy and have a longer lifespan compared to traditional bulbs.
  • Unplugging decorative lights and electronic devices when idle to prevent unnecessary energy consumption.
  • Opting for rechargeable batteries for toys or gadgets to reduce reliance on single-use batteries that often end up in landfills.
  • Extending the lifespan of electronic items by opting for repairs before replacement.
  • When upgrading electronics, consider donating older devices to charitable organizations, schools, or local electronics recycling centers.
  • Seek e-waste recycling programs for safe disposal.
  • Engaging in creative projects using sustainable materials to craft decorations instead of purchasing new electronic ones.
  • Encouraging mindful gifting by choosing durable, repairable, or sustainably made items.

“The EcoWaste Coalition urges everyone to adopt these practices to minimize the environmental footprint this holiday season,” the coalition said.


Food for thought: Public urged to reduce food waste during festive season

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TAGS: E-Waste, Holiday, INQFocus, New Year 2023, trash, Waste

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