This week the annual Brigada Eskwela (the cleanup, repair and renovation activities in schools prior to the resumption of classes) kicks off. Instead of “thank you” tarpaulins, candidates – winners and losers – in the recent elections are urged to support Brigada Eskwela. This is a better way of thanking the public. Donate essentials such as brooms and broomsticks, dust pans, rags, soaps, buckets, non-mercury LED lamps, and lead-safe paints.
Brigada Eskwela is an expression of the bayanihan spirit. But participants must ensure that the school cleanup are done in an eco-friendly manner. Avoid practices that generate more trash and pollution such as mixed waste disposal, open burning and dumping, and the use of leaded paints and hazardous cleaning agents. Under Department of Education Order 05, series of 2014, “every school shall practice waste management principles, such as (waste) minimization, specifically resource conservation and recovery, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, reuse and composting, in order to promote environmental awareness and action.”
Environmental and health watch group Ecowaste Coalition has several suggestions:
* Observe proper segregation of discards at source to facilitate their recycling or composting.
* Do not set trash on fire to prevent the generation of environmental pollutants such as fine particles, heavy metals and dioxins.
* Compost biodegradable discards to produce natural fertilizer or soil enhancer for the school garden.
* Handle busted fluorescent lamps with care to prevent mercury spill; do not mix such lamps with ordinary trash, and properly store and dispose of them as hazardous waste.
* Choose safer cleaning agents and refrain from using hazardous substances that are corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract such as oxalic and muriatic acid.
* Use only certified lead-safe paints.
* Use moist mop or rag to rid floors, windows, window frames and sills, chairs and tables and other surfaces of dust, and wash it thoroughly after use.
Wash hands properly with soap and water before meals and after the work is done.
These eco-tips ensure a waste-free and toxics-free Brigada Eskwela for the benefit of the entire school community and the environment.