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After 2019 polls, people urged to clean up ‘election trash’

LEFT BEHIND. Election paraphernalia are scattered across various polling precincts during the elections on Monday, May 13. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

LEFT BEHIND. Election paraphernalia are scattered across various polling precincts during the elections on Monday, May 13.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Days after the 2019 polls, environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition called on candidates, as well as the public, to help clean up by removing of campaign paraphernalia and upcycling them.

"Regardless of the outcome of your election bid, we appeal to all candidates and parties to take down your campaign materials without delay. Kabit, sabit o dikit mo, tanggal mo (If you posted it, you should remove it),” said Aileen Lucero, the national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition. 

Department of the Interior Local and Government Secretary Eduardo Año echoed the call, encouraging local government units and candidates to start with their own circles and conduct cleanup drives across the country.

Tapos na po ang halalan at nakapili na ang mga mamamayan kung sino sa palagay nila ang karapat-dapat na magsagwan sa kanila tungo sa tunay na pagbabago (Elections are over and the people have chosen who they think should lead them toward change).... Win or lose, show that you are a good sport and that you have the best intentions for your communities by being part of the clean-up drive in your areas,” Año said.

Año emphasized that candidates, elected or not, should help clean after the waste produced during the elections to show their commitment to conserve and improve their communities.

Ipakita natin na masinop at may disiplina tayong mga Pilipino. Alisin na natin ang anumang bahid ng katatapos na eleksiyon at magsimula tayo nang malinis ang ating kapaligiran at malinis ang ating hangarin sa paglilingkod,” Año added.

(Let's show that we Filipinos are neat and disciplined. Let's remove all traces of the recently concluded elections and start with a clean desire and environment to serve.)

Aside from conducting cleanup drives, Ecowaste Coalition also suggested that upcycling of elections campaign materials should be exercised.

Some of the benefits of upcycling election waste materials include decreased garbage volume, lowered disposal cost, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, conservation of resources, cleaner surroundings, and an enhanced environmental awareness.

“Upcycling, or the creative reuse of discards, is a practical way of saving resources from being burned or sent to the dumps and landfills for disposal,” Lucero said.

Año pointed out that post-election trash should immediately be cleaned as it might clog canals and waterways and may later cause flooding.

Mas magiging malala ang sitwasyon kapag umulan dahil siguradong magdudulot ng baha ang basurang ikinalat natin kaya kumilos na agad tayo,” he said. (The situation might become worse during rainy seasons, as scattered waste will definitely cause floods. Immediate action should be done.)

How to upcycle campaign materials

EcoWaste Coalition listed possible ways to upcycle campaign materials.

Paper-based campaign materials can be repurposed as bookmarks, envelopes, folders, mirror or photo frames, drawing pads, memo pads, name plates, scrap books and teaching aids. Tarpaulins can be converted into bags or cases for pencils and mobile phones.

The group said tarpaulins can also be reused as upholstery material, protection against rain or sunlight for vehicles, and awnings for homes and stores. However, they stressed that plastic PVC tarpaulins may contain toxic additives and therefore should only be reused in ways that won't contaminate food or expose children to chemical hazards.

Considering the volume of trash produced during the elections, EcoWaste Coalition also called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for long-term solutions, such as upgrading existing rules to lessen the use of materials that are toxic and are difficult to reuse or recycle. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Trash pile up on election day, May 13)

The group also suggested that the Comelec requires candidates and parties to remove and manage campaign paraphernalia through environmentally sound means immediately after the elections. 

"Like the reported incidents of vote buying, littering has again tainted the democratic exercise of choosing our political leaders. Next time, our citizens should come prepared with their own voting kodigo to render sample ballots irrelevant and avoid turning polling places into dumpsites," Lucero said. – Rappler.com

Josiah Antonio is a Rappler intern. He is a 4th year student at the University of the Philippines Diliman taking up BA Philippine Studies major in Journalism and Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino.