CHRISTMAS gifts I received last month included metal straws intended to replace the plastic ones we get when we eat out. Total number of straws I got was five.
Another gift I got was a water container meant to be used in place of those mineral water bottles. Once the water is consumed, that plastic bottle adds to the trash. Total number of reusable water containers I received – two.
This not only says a lot about my family and friends who gave me those gifts but also that such alternatives less harmful to the environment are available in the market. This also reflects on how concern for the environment is going mainstream. Kudos to environment agencies and groups who pushed for that mind shift.
Going mainstream means being conscious of the need to protect the environment in whatever endeavor.
The celebration of the Sinulog, Cebu’s biggest festival, should be an occasion too to go green, to protect the environment and ensure no more damage is caused. This is why Sinulog organizers must announce not only a ban on parties or public drinking but also an order to prohibit the use of balloons or lanterns as part of the celebration.
The Sinulog celebration opens with a Walk with Jesus procession scheduled this Thursday (not Friday as I wrote earlier), Jan. 10, an event that some Sto. Niño devotees in the past marked by releasing white balloons. A ban on balloons last year was imposed for security reasons, for fear that the sound of a balloon bursting could be mistaken for an explosion and cause panic. It wasn’t for the reason of protecting sea animals who end up ingesting the balloons that fall to the sea.
A plan of a restaurant in Busay to hold a Sinulog lantern festival was cancelled after criticism to the idea of letting go of lanterns bearing messages to the Sto. Niño. An online petition to stop the restaurant from releasing dozens of sky lanterns received 500 signatures in just one day. Petitioners said those lanterns are a fire hazard and, like balloons, they fall back to earth and pollute the grounds or the sea. Sea animals can get caught in the lanterns’ wires.
A better way to send prayers and pleas to the Sto. Niño is to go to Church and light a candle for every supplication.
Festivals in other countries have started imposing bans on releasing balloons and lanterns for the reason that doing so would violate their own laws protecting the environment.
In the Mimaropa Festival of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, last November, organizers received criticism for releasing balloons during the festival opening. The EcoWaste Coalition led the clamor for organizers to stop the activity. Tourism officials later said such balloon-release activity would no longer be part of the next festival.
For Sinulog organizers, they do not have to wait for an online petition or condemnation to any activity that includes releasing balloons or lanterns before they decide to go green.