Wishing For a Greener New Year

By Kim FerrerDecember 31, 2017

More eco groups discourage use of firecrackers


MORE GROUPS ARE NOW encouraging Filipinos to celebrate the New Year without the bang – and for good reason.

One of the most affected after the New Year revelry is the environment. Smoke from fireworks lingers in the atmosphere for several days. This pollution wafting around cities is mainly composed of toxins, byproducts of burnt metals.

“Air pollutants from the use of the firecrackers and fireworks do affect the air quality, posing health risks, particularly among infants, children, and youth, the elderly, and persons with heart, nervous system and respiratory conditions,” said Internist-Pulmonologist, Dr. Maria Encarnita Blanco-Limpin, Chairperson of the Environment Health and Ecology Committee of the Philippine Medical Association. “Imagine chemicals like copper, lithium and barium fire up and their smokes blend in the air that we breathe. These chemicals are unusual components of the air.”

The harmful effects to the environment doesn’t stop there. The packaging and casings of firecrackers left on the streets also add to the waste and pollution.

“Trash can be found everywhere. Heavy metals associated with firecrackers may also find its way into the water reservoir and pollute it,” said Engr. Eric Roque, Adamson University professor and member of environmental group ‘Let’s Do It! Philippines’.

What’s clear is that the environment is in danger during this time of the year. The widespread use of firecrackers create a domino effect that harm everyone and everything in the ecosystem which is why organizations such as Let’s Do It! Philippines and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities strongly support a ‘no firecracker zone’ during festivities.


Greener 2018? Let’s Do It!

Let’s Do It! Philippines, a movement among creative and passionate individuals from different organizations coming as one with the ultimate goal to save the planet, strongly believes in banning the use of firecrackers.

“Studies showed that the usage of firecrackers pollutes not just the air and contributes to health risks to people and adverse effects to the animals especially cats and dogs but also produces a significant amount of solid wastes (trash) after the celebration,” Roque said. “Not to mention the hazard associated with its use.”

The effects are not only limited to air and health, as Dann Diez, Team Leader of Let’s Do It! Philippines shared his perspective regarding the waste produced during this time of the year: “The Philippines is one of the top three countries that dump the most plastic pollutants in the oceans. And on the average, each person generates 500 grams of solid wastes each day. This holiday season, especially during New Year’s Eve, it is more.”

Diez’ group strongly advocate banning firecrackers, fire guns and boga (improvised cannon) as they not only destroy the environment and our health but also increases the risks of starting up fires.

Everyone can still enjoy the New Year without firecrackers, Diez recommends using “non-toxic, harmless and emission-free noisemakers such as pans, pots and ladles, ukuleles, shakers, trumpets and tambourines because in this way, you are not only saving the environment but also save money which you can donate to typhoon victims instead.”

“We only have one planet and it’s our home and we need to protect it because it’s our best gift for the next generations. Let’s celebrate the New Year with a full blast of hope and optimism as we face the coming year.”


A Sustainable Year Ahead

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, a local climate policy group that promotes resilient low-carbon development and is recognized globally for its role in advancing effective climate action, has always been against the use of fireworks.

“We join environmental groups, good citizens and the government in imploring the public to stay away from firecrackers, whether in greeting the New Year or for other events. There are far safer, fun and friendly ways to make a happy ruckus in celebration of worthy events,” said Red Constantino, Executive Director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities

The organization’s stand in the usage of fireworks has been deeply rooted based on the proven harmful effects of these to the environment and health, “from the threat of burns and severed fingers, firecrackers contain elements toxic to humans. Some can kill when ingested, and most end up in bodies of water and food and the air, thereby extending firecracker-related harm,” he said.

Constantino further explained that firecrackers’ harmful effects are quite similar to pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants and vehicles. And if this tradition lives on, Constantino shared a forecast on what possibly could happen to the environment and to everyone: “Firecrackers end up poisoning our rivers and surroundings. Once lit they leave behind trace elements toxic to human and animals.”

To welcome a New Year that is safe and healthy, Constantino recommended fun activities like playing loud instruments, shouting in unison, or using pots and pans as drumset. ”Celebrate by giving people you love the embrace they deserve. Raise your glass to your ancestors and elders. Be a source of joy.”

With plenty of safe and helpful choices that everyone can do in welcoming the New Year, Constantino is optimistic that firecracker use will lessen: “Get your bearings, lose your marbles. We have little time left – be part of social change today. It’s time we put a stop to this harmful practice.”