The Philippines is one of the top contributors to single use plastic waste in the world. Specifically, Metro Manila's 20M+ daily population creates a lot avoidable waste - sachets, utensils, wrappers, plates, etc.
What many Filipinos do not realize is that the country's food security is directly linked to its plastic waste issue. As part of the coral triangle, the Philippines is blessed with some of the most biodiverse and productive coral reefs in the world.
Its coral reefs can produce 1000 kilos of seafood per year. Unfortunately, plastic waste gets in the way. If corals become the bed for plastic waste, these food producing underwater farms are 89% likely to get sick - and thereby reducing food production.
It is estimated that Manila Bay is worth 2.9M kilos of seafood per year. See calculation below:
With its connection to Laguna De Bay via the Pasig River (which is really a 2 way flowing estuary) the 3 bodies of water can potentially produce 4,000,000kg of seafood per year - something very helpful and relevant to Filipinos, considering the extremely high fish prices in local markets, and dwindling fish stock.
A sound environment, makes for a sound economy. However, this is not possible because people do not take care of what they don't understand. In Manila, and the rest of the country - people have yet to learn about the underwater ecosystem and humanity's effects on its productivity. (there are many more variables such as fertilizer run off, toxic waste, etc - but this program focuses on plastic)
As a response to the lack of education on this particular issue, and to the growing plastic waste, rising prices of seafood and the risks to our health, MAD is launching its behavioral change program called Beyond Clean Up - in an effort to restore Manila's Waterways.
The program focuses on experiential and educational activities that take learners directly to areas that are severely affected by irresponsible management of waste. The current sites include Manila Bay's Las Pinas Paranaque Wetland Park and Ramsar bird watching site, Pasig River - fighting for its survival against waste, algal blooms and the sea turtle nesting site by Naic, Cavite.
MAD is running a series of free Beyond Clean Up Programs that provides people with the avenue to learn about and engage with the city environment in a way that they were unable to do so in the past. To ensure its sustainability, private group requests will be charged a service fee that will help keep the free programs running.
Beyond clean up has 3 pillars:
1. Cleaning up existing waste
2. Segregation and recycling to connect to the circular economy - we are partnered with different recycling companies that take on the plastic and use it in their supply chain - in a bid to build and strengthen this system of circularity. (Glass, metal, paper and wood have established recycling supply chains already)
3. Behavioral change commitments through lifestyle choices that reduce waste 1 item at a time.
The first 4 programs have provided interesting feedback and results, listed below. For security of their identity, their real names will not be used:
1. Filipina A stopped buying balloons for her families birthday parties.
2. Filipino B shared, "There's so much waste that even after 2 hours of clean up we barely changed the way the beach looked. It made me think, how can I reduce the waste in the first place?"
3. Filipina C has started bringing reusable picnic or lunch kits using tupper wares that allow her to take out food from any establishment, waste free. A great adjustment to the fast-paced Manila lifestyle.
4. Filipino D started bringing tote bags and shifted to bamboo tooth brushes for his whole family, so that he can reduce his waste, one piece at a time.
5. Filipina E, a teacher, set up learning projects in school to get kids to think about how they can reduce and recycle.
With Manila producing an estimated 14,000,000 kg of single use plastic waste a day (0.7kg per person per day), we have a long way to go - but if each of the 20M Filipinos can cut their waste by just a plastic bottle or 2 a day (bottle are 0.1kg each) then we could reduce waste by 2,000,000 kg a day.
Manila people taking small steps creates large impact - and this impact begins with understanding what the environment has to offer.
To learn more about this program, or to try it out, email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.