Pollution Prevention-A A +A
By Rox Peña
Thursday, September 19, 2013
DID YOU know that this week, September 15 to 21, the United States is observing Pollution Prevention Week? Launched by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the weeklong activity is dedicated to preventing and reducing pollution. According to the EPA, the US annually produces millions of tons of pollution and spends tens of billions of dollars per year controlling it in the form of clean ups, stormwater management, and education.
The EPA encourages Americans to look at their lifestyles and make some changes in their daily routines. At home, consumers are urged to use green products. The EPA considers a product to be “green” if scientific evidence demonstrates that human health or environmental impacts have been significantly reduced in comparison with other products that serve the same purpose.
A more scientific approach to green labeling is the life cycle analysis. A product’s environmental impact is measured from raw material extraction, manufacture, use and disposal. The life cycle of a plastic bag for instance starts from the extraction of crude oil from the ground and ends with its disposal in the environment where it will remain for hundreds of years.
Normally, ordinary consumers would not go to the extent of doing such study. However, companies who have a green policy go though this complicated analysis.
Another suggestion to ordinary individuals is to buy energy efficient appliances. Some appliances that use less electricity have Energy Star labels. We see this label in some appliances sold in the Philippines. Other steps that citizens can take are energy and water savings and doing the three “Rs” of waste management which are reduce, reuse and recycling.
Companies on the other hand, are encouraged to have Environmental Management Systems (EMS) like the ISO 14001. The EMS is a comprehensive program that addresses all the aspects of pollution like air, water, solid waste and hazardous waste. Part of EMS is a green purchasing system which gives preference to eco-friendly products and services.
In schools, the EPA has developed voluntary guidelines in establishing and implementing environmental health programs for K-12 schools. The practices recommended within these guidelines can also be applied, with appropriate adaptation, to a wide range of school-related institutions, including child care and early learning centers.
In the Philippines, we do not have a Pollution Prevention Week campaign. It would be nice to have a similar program so we can raise the awareness of our countrymen on pollution prevention. Many of us are not aware that as we go through our daily activities, we pollute the environment. When we take a bath, wash the dishes and do our laundry we cause water pollution. When we do our groceries, we contribute to the garbage problem. When we drive our car, use our appliances and cook our food, we cause air pollution. The list goes on.
By being aware of the pollution we contribute, we can take steps to reduce our impact to the environment.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 20, 2013.