Groups prove that you can have yourself a merry eco-Christmas!
THERE ARE A lot of things to be joyful about this holiday season but if you talk about the environment, chances are the mood is the complete opposite. Once you start to imagine all the discarded gift wrappers, decorations, and spoiled food left — not to mention the horrendous traffic — then Mother Nature really took a beating.
Despite this sad reality, there are institutions who make it a point to celebrate the holidays in their own little ‘green’ way. They have done this for years and continue to do this even recently, armed with the spirit that it may inspire others to do the same.
In Lubao, Pampanga for example, eco-resort Prado Farms has been celebrating a ‘Green Christmas’ since 2012. This means celebrating the holidays by decorating their whole farm/ resort using only recycled materials, and promoting dishes that were made using organic ingredients that they have grown themselves.
Although the farm is passionate about celebrating the holiday in an eco-conscious way, Prado Farms CEO Arch. Reimon Gutierrez pointed out that they strive to be sustainable not only during Christmas, but 365 days a year.
“Prado Farms has always been ‘eco-conscious’ when we shifted to organic in 1999, it is one of our long-term goals to become a certified biodynamic farm. This has been the dream since day one. Our green practices are not just observed during Christmas, but all year round. This means that when we can, we use fresh, natural and organic ingredients for our dishes, non-chemical solutions for our cleaning and all natural feeds and fertilizer for our farming,” Gutierrez said.
As part of their environmental advocacy, the resort (a not-for-profit organization) positions its brand to “celebrate life.” “We understand that the only way to do this is to first have a deep respect for the relationships of all living matter. From the soil which nourishes our vegetable gardens, to the greens that feed our guests, every little detail (and how you treat them) always ends up adding to the bigger picture,” he revealed. “We also believe in repurposing objects such as used LPG tanks to driftwood. We see the value that these things can still offer. These are the items we used to decorate the resort.”
Almost 70 percent of the materials used in the resort’s structures are repurposed, some from old train stations, others from scrap metal. Chemicals are used to a bare minimum (the pool uses salt water as its main sanitizing agent). To get around the farm, guests walk, bike or ride the carabao under the canopy of trees, among free-range animals and accompanied by the birds chirping!
The practices of Prado Farms also evolve largely around the teachings of Rudolf Steiner who is known for his works on biodynamic agriculture. Prado Farms does not only keep these eco lessons to itself but also shares these good practices to the communities in Lubao as well. Guests are not only toured around the property, they are also educated about the (not-so-scientific) myriad aspects of biodynamic and sustainable farming. During these visits, guests are implored not to bring plastic into the grounds.
How can similar establishments strive to be like Prado?
“Just like what people say about New Year’s resolutions, always start with something small and achievable. Prado was not a fully functioning eco-friendly farm from day one. There were numerous permutations before Prado found its eco-friendly stride. And it’s still a continuing process. This could mean something as small as picking up PETs and throwing them in the proper bin or segregating,” said Gutierrez. “There are numerous ways that people can start their environmental crusade.”
School (Eco) Spirit
For Xavier School (San Juan, Nuvali) on the other hand, the institution has been very active in promoting sustainability within the school campus, and they have taken advantage of the Christmas season to further promote their environmental cause.
For two years, the school, via its Environmental Advocate Team headed by Allyn Chua-Go Tian, has come up with an eco-friendly Christmas calendar which lists suggestions on how students and faculty can practice sustainability despite the activities.
Some of the suggestions include finding alternative gift wrappers that promote recycling, decorating using organic materials like real plants, fruits, leaves, herbs and flowers; joining carpool to reduce traffic congestion, and even going meatless on some days to reduce carbon footprint.
Go Tian explained that these projects are part of Xavier’s initial steps in “greening” their practices and eventually, “greening” their campus. “Yes, there is still a lot to be done and desired. Yes, it is the advocacy of Xavier School to promote and instill environmentally-friendly practices and mindsets,” she said.
Many of their sustainability programs have been institutionalized since June 2016. The campus has implemented simple rules such as not allowing plastic and styro utensils inside, bringing your own bags (BYOB) for personal trash, and encouraging students to segregate their waste in the canteen and other areas of the school. The school further encouraged recycling by installing color-coded waste bins.
Aside from observing an eco-friendly Christmas, Xavier also has various other projects that are observed regularly.
“We have tree-tagging of the endemic trees in campus and have a tree walk map that students can have as part of the walking campus tour of endemic trees activity.
We also have the ‘green your period’ session to inform and offer female members of the community alternative eco-friendly ways and practices for their monthly cycles. We also had several guest speakers talk to the whole community on caring for the environment,” Go Tian said.
To prove that they are serious on keeping their school eco-friendly, the school administration conducts a one-day waste audit to discover areas of improvement. The high school student club, The Green Team, also hosts a series of talks on marine conservation, biodiversity, etc. The school also donated bikes to UP to support a program began by a Xavier alumni at the UP campus called the UP Bike Share.
“The academe is crucial in educating and forming young minds to go green and to care for the earth we live in. The support of the community, especially parental support and reinforcement of environmental practices at home, is also equally important and essential. If we share and embrace the same environmental mindsets and advocacies, we can all become successful environmental advocates,” Go Tian concluded.