Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is appealing to Filipinos to be mindful of their responsibility to the environment as millions prepare to visit the graves of their departed loved ones for the traditional observance of All Souls' Day.

Lopez issued the appeal in anticipation of the recurring garbage problem during "Undas," a situation many regard as a gross disrespect for the dead and Mother Earth.

"The huge volume of garbage collected during cleanup activities in cemeteries year in, year out is a sad footnote to an otherwise beautiful Filipino tradition," Lopez said.

"It exacts a major toll on the environment and public health," she said.

The environment chief said the public should take the occasion as an opportunity to show environmental responsibility and refrain from activities that would degrade the proper way to remember the dead.

"Beyond flowers and candles that punctuate our beautiful tradition of Undas, this occasion demands that we also practice environmental responsibility in honoring the memory of our dearly departed," Lopez pointed out.

Lopez also reiterated the call of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for everyone to practice CLAYGO, which stands for Clean As You Go, and use reusable or recyclable food containers.

"Please make an effort to throw trash in bins coded to segregate them accordingly," Lopez said, urging cemetery visitors to as much as possible bring their own garbage bags and take their own trash home.

She added: "Our dearly departed deserve our prayers and respect, not trash. Let us honor them by keeping their resting place garbage-free."

An estimated 30,000 tons of garbage is collected everyday nationwide, with 8,000 tons collected in Metro Manila alone. The volume shoots up during public holidays.

According to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, some 140 truckloads of garbage are usually collected from various cemeteries in the metropolis on November 1 and 2.

At the same time, Lopez called on the public to be mindful of their civic duty to follow the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

"The law must be followed more out of good environmental citizenship, rather than out of fear of its punitive provisions," Lopez stressed.

Under the law, a person caught littering shall be fined between P300 and P1,000, or made to render community service.

Lopez also advised the public to take public transportation or share a ride to the cemetery during Undas.

"Carpooling or taking public transportation can create carbon savings. Whenever applicable, use bicycle or walk to your destination," she added. ###