MANILA, Philippines – Since the beginning of 2015, campaign manager Dann Diez has been hard at work in ensuring the success of the massive cleanup day slated for September 20, 2015.
The nationwide campaign is headed by Sustainable Energy and Enterprise Development for Communities (SEED4COM), a non-governmental organization that aims to bring together numerous volunteers, organizations, and local government units.
"The campaign entails togetherness by putting our hands together, getting dirty, to make the country clean," Dann told Rappler.
With the target of bringing together 5 million Filipinos – or 5% of the country's total population – for the cause, the campaign aims to both educate citizens on proper waste disposal.
Diez has been travelling all over the country, spearheading regional boot-camps, with the hopes of finding volunteers to lead the campaign across different regions.
Their network of volunteers has been growing, said Diez, through social media and their "Eco-Leaders" or those who have voluntarily taken part in their 3-day boot-camp.
By September, "Eco-Leaders", together with their respective teams, would prepare programs adressing their region's specific problems.
But how did this initiative start?
After roaming the world volunteering for the same campaign in countries like America and El Salvador, Diez was given the chance to attend the Clean World Conference of Let's Do It! World in Kosovo, Prishtina. There, he met like-minded cleanup leaders who inspired him to bring the campaign to the Philippines.
With newfound inspiration – especially after learning of the devastation brought about by Super Typhoon Yolanda – Diez made the trip back to the Philippines. He aims to achieve the same success he witnessed in other countries.
He also hopes the Philippines will be able to follow in the footsteps of Estonia, which in 2008, cleaned a total of 10,000 tons of garbage in 5 hours. This was achieved through the efforts of 50,000 volunteers. That's around 4% of the Estonian population.
Five years later, the idea of coming together for a day to dispose trash has spread in different countries around the world like the United States, El Salvador, India, and many others.
To this day, the number of countries participating continues to grow.
Despite not receiving financial backing from the government, Diez points out that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been supporting proper waste management since 2001 through Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
The law was meant to address problems concerning the management of solid waste.
"I also hope that the cleanup day will remind everyone how important this act is, and a stricter implantation of it hopefully soon follows," said Diez.
In June, the DENR – alongside the Environmental Management Bureau and SEED4COM – signed a memorandum of agreement for Basura Patrol to report illegally dumped waste.
The agreement also set September 20, 2015 as National Cleanup Day, as supported by the League of Cities of the Philippines.
According to Diez, it was important that it be held on a Sunday because he wanted families to come together and get involved.
The Let's Do It! campaign team continues to recruit volunteers and develop partnerships with different institutions nationwide. Their next Eco-Leaders camp will be held in Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Mindanao from July to August.
The campaign looks forward to partnering with other government agencies like the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Commission on Higher Education.
With the current typhoon and flood season on full throttle, Diez reminds Filipinos that improper trash disposal could haunt them one way or another. He expects everyone to be alert and to bring a solution to these problems.
"Any small action can help our country because when put together it makes a big difference," he stressed.
The campaign is also in need of donations, be it cash or kind. They are specifically looking for sponsors to provide sacks, trash bags, gloves, and other items needed for the cleanup day. – Rappler.com
Kyle Chua is a Rappler intern.