This year’s Fiesta Verde wellness and vegetarian food fair focuses on sending impoverished children to school. But the environmental aspect of the event remains a strong point for visitors and exhibitors alike to ponder.
As environmental protection forms the fivefold core of Tzu Chi’s advocacies, Fiesta Verde hosts a plethora of ways on how to preserve this blue and pure world. At the tip of the spear are Tzu Chi volunteers on cleaning and recycling duty, roaming the event venue to collect used cutlery and recyclable materials and clean them. The never-ending stream of visitors push volunteers like Marlyn Delos Santos to the limits of their endurance, but not a soul complained.
“We do this to help keep our surroundings clean, as well as to help people and teach the youth not to throw trash aimlessly,” says Delos Santos, a volunteer from Barangay Pasong Tamo, Quezon City.
To minimize waste generated by the activity, some food exhibitors use reusable bowls and utensils. Tzu Chi volunteers collect them after the visitors have finished eating and bring them at the back where fellow volunteers wash them. They’re required to keep up with the demand of an attendance of thousands.
“We have to be focused on our work. We monitor customers who are about to leave [so that we can collect the utensils and recyclables]. We have to do it with a smile so that they feel at ease,” Delos Santos adds.
Proof of concept
Fiesta Verde has become a platform for small exhibitors to present their methods for protecting the environment. However small-scale their operations may be, their presence garners a couple of eyes from the vast crowd, perhaps the kind of exposure they need.
SGD Coffee, a café business that uses coffee from the Cordillera Mountains, prides in its way of protecting the environment by treating local farmers as partners. Buying coffee beans from them at a high price and providing them technical advice on sustainable farming benefit the farmers in the long run. For instance, planting coffee trees under larger trees not only provide the former with shade but also protects the mountainsides from erosion.
“We let [the farmers] know that we want to work with them, not just working to take advantage of them,” says Arius Mamanteo, representative for SGD Coffee.
The result of such best practices is a brew not too bitter compared to conventional black coffee, as well as lower caffeine content.
Meanwhile, recycling is the highlight of Siklo Pilipinas, a producer of bags and belts made with the air tubes of worn-out tires. By buying said tires from junkshops and the like, the company keeps the tires—whose degradation rate is longer than plastic, if not forever—away from the landfills.
“We are a very small company, but we are creating this awareness for the public,” says Clarice Ecuacion, representative for Siklo Pilipinas.
After the customers leave, Tzu Chi volunteer Marlyn Delos Santos collects the used utensils to be cleaned at the back of the venue. With a steady stream of visitors, Tzu Chi volunteers on cleaning duty have to work fast to make sure there are enough bowls and chopsticks to go around. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】
Another Tzu Chi volunteer cleans the makeshift tables for the next group of patrons. The tables are wooden cable reels standing on their flat sides, with topside covered in plastic film. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】
In keeping with the foundation’s advocacy of recycling, Tzu Chi volunteers get to work processing the plastic bottles. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】
Another group of Tzu Chi volunteers wash the utensils to be reused. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】
Siklo Pilipinas is a small company that makes bags and belts out of the air tubes of worn-out tires. Their advocacy involves keeping such materials out of landfills, as tires don’t have a definite rate of degradation. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】
SGD Coffee takes pride in treating its farmers as partners in progress, teaching them sustainable coffee farming in the mountains of Sagada, Mountain Province and buying coffee beans at a high price to support the farmers’ families. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】