Our duty to the environment as
by Reuben Albert G. Mistas III
Reuben Albert G. Mistas III was awarded the 2019 ANAK Liwayway Scholarship for Leadership Excellence last June based on his high school GPA, a group interview, and an essay in response to the questions, “How can you minimize Canada’s environmental impact on the Philippines?” and “How are people of the Philippines taking control of climate change?” The following essay was his submission.
Ensuring the health of the environment is a task that cannot be done alone. It is a collective duty that all humans must partake in through living sustainably. As a Filipino-Canadian, there are certain responsibilities that I have, especially due to recent issues between the Philippine and Canadian Governments, wherein “from 2013 [-] 2014 [...] 103 shipping containers from Canada labelled as plastics arrived in the Philippines for recycling, but [were] determined [to be] filled with debris from Canadian trash bins.” As Filipino-Canadians, we must hold ourselves accountable for this problem, as this waste ultimately came from us. It is important that we educate ourselves in order to effectively prevent issues like this from happening again, and in the process, save the environment.
In order to tackle this issue, we must first start with the root of the problem: What did these shipments specifically contain? According to the Ottawa Citizen: these shipments “[included] plastic bottles, bags, [and] newspapers.” These are all materials that we use that can inadvertently contribute to our problem with waste. So, how can we minimize our environmental impact on the Philippines? Generally, avoiding one-time use items such as plastics is a good rule of thumb in minimizing waste; using reusable bags, straws, utensils, and bottles are all effective yet simple means of doing so. Moreover, our choices in our purchases can also lessen our negative impact on the environment. Avoiding products from large companies that produce vast amounts of waste and buying local, responsibly sourced items also aid in reducing waste. By educating ourselves on how our life choices can affect the environment, and implementing this knowledge in our daily lives, we can minimize Canada’s environmental impact on the Philippines.
Certainly, saving the environment is not a one-sided affair. It can only be achieved through the collective efforts of people all around the globe. With that being said, our fellow Filipinos are also doing their part in moving towards a sustainable way of life. Based on the information I’ve gathered from the articles given, it seems that Filipinos are taking initiative by creating sustainable businesses that provide for the demands of our kababayans. For example, the programs created by local companies such as Siklo Pilipinas and Lumago Designs not only provide people with jobs, items that would otherwise remain as waste are upcycled and turned into wonderful creations instead. It also helps when the government takes action on reinvigorating the environment, as seen in the recently passed HB 8728, which requires graduates to plant ten trees. When people work together to educate themselves, they can innovate and act upon environmental issues effectively and creatively.
What we can take from these instances is that educating ourselves in terms of what we can do for the environment is essential in our aim to minimize our negative impact on it. As Filipino-Canadians, we must take pride in gaining knowledge about the environment and taking collective action towards a more sustainable future.
Reuben Albert G. Mistas III is a recent graduate from Miles Macdonell Collegiate and is entering his first year of studies at the University of British Columbia this fall. Visit www.anak.ca to learn more about ANAK programs, opportunities, and ways you can get involved or support our youth.