SINCE 2014, the month of January is celebrated as the Zero Waste Month by virtue of Proclamation 760, which calls for the promotion of environmental awareness and action among Filipinos.

It also established public participation in the development of national and local integrated, comprehensive, and ecological waste management programs in the country.

Likewise, this is in adherence the Republic Act 9003, also known as the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,” which was enacted into law on January 26, 2000.

Such the whole education sector has integrated the observance into the curriculum, which, for the Department of Education especially, has aligned in its Maka-kalikasan (for environment) core values.

Through this, upcycling-related activities are taught to students -- in all levels from primary to tertiary -- with emphasis on the importance of waste management not only to individual and community health, but also literally on the social, environmental, political, cultural, and economic aspect.

Obviously, the pandemic brought by deadly coronavirus disease (Covid-19) that struck the world early quarter in 2020, as a domino effect, has resulted in massive and global displacement of workers and have lost their income.

This has challenged the people from all walks of life of becoming resilient. For most, Filipinos are culturally creative and innovative.

The pandemic’s mayhem has turned out to be meaningfully productive, especially for the mothers of Barangay Felisa, whose source of income is by scavenging.

The barangay is Bacolod City’s host community of its sanitary landfill where these mothers scavenged for a living. The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) funded the mothers for its upcycling training, a livelihood project initiative of Project Basura by the Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs (COYE) and its sister club the Brigadiers of Environment for Reconstruction and Development (Berde) of Handumanan National High School in the Division of Bacolod City.

Basura, is a local term that means a trash, thus the project originated its concept with a trash-to-cash principle, which has brought Project Basura to fruition.

Project Basura aims to provide communities with knowledge and skills on upcycling concept or material development of discarded materials, thus helping in the reduction of waste product affecting the immediate environment while enhancing their creative abilities. It is a school-to-community collaboration project founded by the writer in relation to his advocacy on Community Action - Based Literacy Education (Cable).

Project partners are the Barangay Felisa Council, Informal Waste Sector Association of Bacolod City (IWSABC), City Cooperative and Livelihood Development Office (CCLDO), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Negros Occidental, and the Association of Negros Artists (ANA).

The project’s conceptualization was the clubs’ advocacy for Global Citizenship, Sustainable Development Goals, Community Engagement, Citizenship and Solidarity, and 21st Century Education under its banner program HEELP (Health and Environment, Education, and Livelihood Program).