SPARE a thought for the planet that holds the life of every living thing together. In this planet, it is Man who reigns supreme—he dominates and rules, and in the process he destroys.

Environmental experts and scientists say that the world’s population growth and impact on ecosystems are driving our home planet to a “tipping point,” and if not dealt with immediately the “shift” on Earth will be inevitable, leading to sweeping biosphere changes that will include mass extinctions. The report, submitted to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, says that by 2025, 50 percent of Earth’s land will have been altered by man, destroying essential natural environments needed to sustain life. And that moment, 11 years from now could be the beginning of the end of life as we know it.

But man is not giving up hope. This is why we celebrate the biggest day for positive environmental action on June 5. World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment, serving as the “peoples’ day” for doing something positive for the preservation of planet Earth, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential impact. This year’s theme is dubbed Sids, dedicated to the small islands developing states. There is an urgent need to help protect the islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerabilities, particularly as a result of climate change. As a call for solidarity, WED’s battle cry this year is “Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level.” As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the launch of 2014 International Year of Small Islands and Developing States, emphasized, “Planet Earth is our shared island, let us join forces to protect it.”

It is heartening to know that one group echoes this call and giving it solid and concrete voice with the noble mission of “Empowering and protecting the finite resources, pursuing sustainable development, and inculcating in the heart and mind of every individual to live a culture of environmental stewardship.” The University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) has created Win on Waste (WOW) program which is a self-sustaining solid waste and resources management programs advocating environmental stewardship through greening activities, resources conservation, and waste management.

“We are very passionate in making the WOW program a success which we started in 2010. We feel the urgency for a collective action since we are already experiencing the effects of global warming. People seem to think that if planet Earth is destroyed there is a ‘spare’ tire, or that we can just easily move to Mars,” said Joanna De Catalina, supervisor of the Institute of Non-formal Education and Community Outreach program of USJ-R.

De Catalina added, “I hope that the Cebuanos will take the world as a global village wherein everyone is called to take care of it. I also wish that the government will be very determined and firm in its support.”

“We are doing our best to inculcate in our students as well as the whole community the importance of active participation. We also reach out to the whole Academe network and the Department of Education because we believe that success in our projects could be attained only if people are properly educated,” said Irene Rosell, WOW environmental programs coordinator. USJ-R has been awarded first prize as the most Eco-friendly school in the region and second in the National level in 2011. It is also the first Training Center on Solid Waste Management set up by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Contributed photo)