The war on trash is yet to start ... Philippine 'river warriors' fight tide of trash for cleaner future

Squire

Active member
Coming to a neighborhood near you, trash war.

The ocean will distribute this trash around the world.

The current efforts to clean up rivers are just skirmishes, such as the example in the Philippines cited below, in the coming war on trash.

The trash skirmish in the Philippines is just one of many around the world where trash has overwhelmed the environment.

The UK Thames river was a cesspit of filth up to the 1980s before a major cleanup. It is better now but far from pristine.

Trash is a product of the capitalist search for continuous economic growth which requires the engine of growth to be sustained by the fuel of growing consumer demand.



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Philippine 'river warriors' fight tide of trash for cleaner future
Philippines 'river warriors' fight tide of trash hoping for cleaner future

25 Jun 2021 10:07AM
(Updated: 25 Jun 2021 10:11AM)

MANILA: Each morning, a group of Filipinos rakes up piles of trash on the banks of one of the world's most polluted rivers, filling sacks in an endless pursuit to clean a waterway that is also a major source of ocean plastics.

These "river warriors" are a decade-old group of about 100 people who work to clear the glut of garbage floating or washed up along Manila's notorious Pasig River.

The 27km river cutting through the Philippine capital was once a vital trade route. But urbanisation and poor sewage planning have left the river all but dead.

"There's never a time without garbage here. It's unlimited," said Angelita Imperio, a river warrior for six years.

The warriors wear rubber boots and elbow-length gloves, using rakes and handmade tools to scoop rubbish from stagnant waters in different locations.

The warriors started off as volunteers but now receive a basic income from a local government and operate in small groups at different parts of the river.

Dexter Opiana, another river warrior with six years of service, says she and about 19 others work shifts of about seven hours and collect an average of 80 to 100 sacks a day, more during monsoon season.

Philippines 'river warriors' fight tide of trash hoping for cleaner future
Members of the River Warriors gather trash in Mandaluyong City, Philippines, on Jun 21, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
Most of it is plastic wrappers, single-use sachets, and packaging materials. Since the pandemic began, surgical face masks are sometimes mixed in among the other floating garbage.

Pasig's trash isn't just a Philippine problem.

A 2021 report by Oxford University's Our World in Data estimated 81 per cent of global ocean plastic comes from Asian rivers and the Philippines alone contributes a third of that total.

The Pasig River alone provides up to 6.43 per cent of ocean plastic originating from rivers, the report said.

Despite the warriors' Sisyphean task, they are optimistic of better days ahead.

Philippines 'river warriors' fight tide of trash hoping for cleaner future
Members of the River Warriors gather trash in Mandaluyong City, Philippines, on Jun 21, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
"This has been our advocacy, to have the river cleaned for the sake of our children, our parents, our nation and mother nature," Imperio said.

Joan Lagunda, assistant secretary at the environment department, said authorities were coordinating with local governments to establish proper waste segregation practices and want informal settlers on the riverbanks to be moved.

Tides of trash in Pasig River
Plastic bottles float on the heavily polluted San Juan River, a tributary of Pasig River in Mandaluyong City, Philippines, Jun 21, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)
Marian Ledesma, a campaigner with Greenpeace Philippines, said the government should reduce single-use plastics and strengthen law enforcement on waste disposal and sewage.

"I've seen it done in other cities, in other countries, so I don't think it's impossible to revive and clean up Pasig River," she said.

"It will need a collective action."
 

HBS Guy

Head Honcho
Staff member
The Pacific garbage patch comes to mind.

Yet a lot of this could be recycled, like plastic and paper.
 

Squire

Active member
I lived in London in 1977-79 and the river Thames was a polluted disgrace and still the depository of human bodies and cars from the work of the Kray brothers and their ilk.

On Saturdays in the era 1977-79, after the markets closed, the streets of London suburbs were littered with trash which would be washed by the rains and wind into the river and then the sea.

UK drivers emptied the ashtrays of their cars in the street when stopped at traffic lights. That detritus would eventually be washed into the river.

In 2021 the UK still has dead human bodies regularly being discovered in the Thames.
 

HBS Guy

Head Honcho
Staff member
3-400 years ago nightsoil carts used to be empty their loads into the Fleet Ditch. Imagine the smell!
 

Squire

Active member
I remember nightsoil carts in the Melbourne inner-city suburb of Carlton in the 1950s. I shudder to think where they emptied those.
 

HBS Guy

Head Honcho
Staff member
Fuck you must be older than me! Then again, I didn’t live in Melbourne.

Outcasts of Foolgarrah!
 
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