Friday, July 29, 2016

Philippines - Small steps result in big impact

When it comes to making eco-friendly changes there are little things that really add up to make a difference. Since most of these changes could be done at home as well as school, environmental solutions provider World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines and Filipino pharmaceutical company Pascual Laboratories Inc. (PascualLab), through its Sowing to Empower, Educate and Develop (Seed) CSR initiative, have been visiting select public schools to establish the link between climate change and wellness, highlighting simple ways that their audience could apply to protect their health while minimizing their ecological impacts.

Since 2012, the multiyear Environmental Education (EE) program called “Kalakasan, Kalikasan” has been implemented in 10 schools, involving over 6,400 students and 1,405 parents while training 32 teachers.

A typical session involves teaching students about the importance of washing their hands to prevent the transfer of diseases; getting more physically active like playing outdoors; eating nutritious food and supplementing these with vitamins; and drinking eight glasses of water daily.

The sessions also discuss how to rid houses of possible pests and disease-carrying insects; the impacts of climate change on the environment and on human health; and utilizing organic, herbal medicine as a solution to illnesses such as cough.


Both the WWF-Philippines and PascualLab recognize what many scientists have been expecting: A warmer world brings changes in the mechanisms that spread some diseases (disease vectors). Insects previously stopped by cold climates are already moving to new locations. Heavy rain and heat create conditions that are more favorable to the mosquitoes that transmit potentially deadly diseases.

“Many diseases stem from changing weather patterns,” explains WWF EE unit head Ruel Bate. “Strong rains can turn ditches into stagnant pools, which can be prime breeding spots for mosquitoes that carry viruses like dengue. Identifying practical solutions to these problems—like clearing areas in our homes which can become breeding grounds for insects or ridding our homes of anything which can gather standing water—are effective climate adaptation measures. Our aim is simple—to promote better health through a healthy environment.”

The program started as a means of educating students and quickly expanded to teaching other members of the households. From 2015 to 2016, the program was further enhanced by replacing old multimedia materials with new visual aids.

Sessions are now conducted in classrooms where PascualLab employee-volunteers take on a bigger role in helping teach the kids. “PascualLab’s mission is to provide the most family-friendly health and wellness products in every community where we are present. As we aim to build strong, healthy families, we think that one of the ways we can achieve this is by caring for our environment. We share WWF’s belief that there is a direct relation to the state of every Filipino’s health and the way we treat our Earth. Not only do we want to be part of the solution through our products, but we also want to take our work a step further and take an active part in educating others about climate change and its effects on health,” said PascualLab corporate communications director Mia Pascual Cenzon.

“Kalakasan, Kalikasan” began in 2012 at the Krus na Ligas and Esteban Abada elementary schools in Quezon City and involved 955 elementary students and parents plus a dozen teachers.

In 2013, the program’s second phase reached four public elementary schools in Quezon City: Esteban Abada, Batasan Hills, Old Balara and Kamuning, teaching 1,805 students and training 20 teachers.

The third phase, which happened in 2014, covered 1,285 students and three elementary schools: Esteban Abada, Sto. Cristo and Old Balara.

The recently concluded fourth phase retained Sto. Cristo and Kamuning elementary schools and added two more, Tomas Morato and General Roxas. This latest phase covered over 2,000 students and facilitated by employee-volunteers of PascualLab.

Said Rea Calingasan, one of the volunteers: “I want to believe that our efforts in Kalakasan, Kalikasan helped children understand how our small actions greatly affect nature. I hope that one day, the example of at least one of our students will also be mirrored by his or her family, creating new stewards of nature.”

Small steps

While members of the household don’t have to share bath water to make a difference, there are other more meaningful ways that could create significant impacts to the environment:
  • Going meatless on Mondays. Opting for a vegetarian diet for just one day might not seem like a big deal, but adding one meat-free meal per week produces a significant impact considering a large amount of greenhouse gases—mainly methane—is released when raising livestock (methane is produced as part of the animal’s digestive processes as well as from their manure).
  • Slowing down. Driving at 80 kilometers per hour uses 25 percent less fuel than 112 kph.
  • Choosing energy-efficient appliances. When replacing old ones, choose from items bearing tags that they have been tested for the amount of electricity they could consume (like Meralco’s orange tag). Also, buy compact fluorescent light bulbs or if budget allows, LED lamps since they last several times as long and use a fraction of the electricity.
  • Using your bike instead of driving all the time. Other than walking, bicycles are the most cost-effective transportation on the planet.
  • Buying local products. So that energy is not wasted on transportation, make an effort to grow your own food or at least buy locally produced products.
  • •Reusing everything. Change your mindset and think twice before throwing anything out. Bring a mug or reusable plastic containers to school or office. This act saves us from the accumulation of disposable plastic bottles as well as polystyrene cups.

You can find older posts regarding ASEAN politics and economics news at SBC blog, and older posts regarding health and healthcare at IIMS blog. I thank you.

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