Editorial: Season of scrimp and save

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

CHRISTMAS, New Year and Sinulog bookend a season of plenty for Cebuanos.

From December till January is one long fiesta of gatherings, reunions and celebrations.

From tradition, “fiesta” implies feasting and treats, like gift-giving.

But one can also argue that tradition is only the repetition of acts due to history and reinforced by culture and society. Tradition can be changed, especially if an act is found to be repeated only from mindless, uncritical acceptance of the concept of tradition, without heeding its implications for present realities or the anticipated future.

Waste not

The succession of disasters—the war in Zamboanga, the earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu, and typhoon Yolanda’s destruction of Leyte and Samar—has inspired a wave of moderation, sacrifice and sharing among those who want to help calamity survivors rebuild and move on.

One of the voluntary gestures made by public and private offices is to forego the Christmas parties that close the year. The money spent for food, drinks and giveaways are rechanneled to buy and repack more relief goods for Leyte and Samar, as well as tent cities in Manila and Cebu where many residents have evacuated.

Other offices have opted to share a simpler repast in thanksgiving for what they regard as a collective blessing for surviving this year’s challenges. The priority is to divert much needed resources to help those in need of a meal, a home or a livelihood.

It’s a consciousness that could not be better timed.

According to Sun.Star Cebu’s June 25-26, 2013 special report by Cherry Ann T. Lim and Bernadette A. Parco, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) launched last June 5, considered as World Environment Day, its anti-food waste and food loss campaign, “Think. Eat. Save.”

The campaign seeks to educate people to stop the yearly waste or loss of about 1.3 billion tons of food, representing 1/3 of the food produced globally.

In contrast, 870 million of the 7.2 billion people in the world do not have enough to eat, revealed the two-part Sun.Star Cebu special report, “Wanted: Clean Plate.”

Food waste is a three-headed challenge. First, this is food denied of those who need the sustenance or suffer from malnutrition. Second, the resources used to produce the wasted food are also lost. Last, food waste threatens the environment.

“Rotting food… produces methane, a greenhouse gas whose global warming effects are 23 times more potent than those of carbon dioxide, Unep said,” quoted Sun.Star Cebu.

Cebuanos can make a lot of difference in cutting down on this food waste. The special report cited the 2003 National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), which showed that “Filipios wasted 2.9 percent of the food in their household”.

Rice products were the most wasted, representing 62 percent of the Filipino household’s food waste. This was followed by fish and vegetable products, 15 percent each; and corn and meat products, four percent each.

During the holiday parties, we should fill our plates only with food that we can consume. Cebuanos are the most wasteful, responsible for 28 grams of food lost per person daily. People in Mindanao followed, with 26 grams; Luzon residents wasted 25 grams, according to the same DOST-FNRI study.

Establishments with food that they cannot sell but is still fit for eating can donate this to charitable institutions, reported Lim and Parco. Some of these institutions are the Community Scouts Youth Guidance Center, Operation Second Chance, Missionaries of the Poor Little Lamb Center in Barangay Sawang Calero, and Sunshine Corner Ministry of Encouragement Inc. in Sapangdaku.

Kinder to Earth

The Unep anti-food waste and food loss campaign is not just about being kind to one’s body and one’s neighbors, but also to the earth.

Bio waste represents 66 percent of the solid waste management challenge to Cebu City Government and its citizens in 2010. This is according to a report made by Cebu City Councilor Nida C. Cabrera, representing the north district, during the Dec. 3-4, 2012 Regional Seminar on Community-based Solid Waste Management. Cabrera chairs the committee on environment.

Next to bio waste is plastics (15 percent). Paper, textile, tin, glass, construction materials, wood, rubber and mixed waste are the other materials overflowing from the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill. Cabrera reported that operating the landfill already violates the law.

The waste generated from Christmas to New Year and the Sinulog adds to the 325 tons of waste generated on an average day in Cebu City.

What can we do?

We should curb our habits of consuming and discarding.

We must segregate waste in our homes, offices and public areas. Cabrera quoted the Aug. 23, 2012 Environmental Management Bureau-Region 7 inspection report that the observed mixtures of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste in transfer stations attest that “at present, segregation of wastes (is) not strictly practiced”.

These are resolutions worth renewing every day of every year: waste not, want not.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 09, 2013.


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