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As affected families and communities joined hands to clear the large amount of trash and debris left behind by typhoon Ulysses, an advocacy group for a zero waste and toxics-free society offered some useful tips on how to clean up safely after the catastrophe.

As it empathized with the disaster survivors, the EcoWaste Coalition today released a 15-point cleanup eco-tips, which if properly observed, can help in lowering the volume of trash requiring disposal, conserve resources, reduce expenses and protect human health from hazardous chemicals and wastes.

“We invite affected families and communities to clean up the mess caused by typhoon Ulysses in a manner that will prevent the creation of piles of stinking garbage in the neighborhood, which may take a few days before being collected,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The post-disaster cleanup should not lead to the all-out disposal of flood-soaked materials as some of them can still be washed, dried, repaired, reused, recycled or composted,” he said.

To assist the public in safely conducting post-disaster cleanup, the EcoWaste Coalition issued the following 15 eco-tips, while stressing that flood-stricken households and those helping them should be extra mindful of health and safety measures set by the authorities to control the spread of COVID-19:

  1. Put on protective gloves and boots or safety shoes as a protection against animal bites, bruises, cuts, chemical burns, leptospirosis and other flood-borne diseases.
  2. Segregate as much as possible post-disaster discards to set apart those that can be repaired, refurbished, reused, recycled, composted or disposed of.
  3. Separate ordinary trash from special waste like busted fluorescent lamps, flood-soaked TVs and other e-wastes laden with hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, and toxic flame retardant chemicals.
  4. Do not dump garbage in streets, storm drains, rivers and vacant lots, nor engage in open burning to prevent further environmental degradation and pollution.
  5. Remove discards that can collect and hold water, which can serve as a breeding site for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes whose bites can cause dengue fever. 
  6. Make use of rainwater and grey water from the washing of clothes and dishes and from bathing to remove silt from flooding, scrub with soap and water, and then rinse thoroughly.
  7. As much as possible, use non-toxic cleaning products such as vinegar, baking soda and soap.
  8. Wipe glass windows clean using a moist newspaper that can be shredded after use for composting. 
  9. Clean furniture and other stuff submerged in floodwater with hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly and dry under the sun.
  10. Salvage, clean, fix and reuse mud-soaked furnishings.
  11. Mix equal amounts of vinegar and water to disinfect things contaminated by flood water.
  12. If using commercially sold disinfectant, carefully read the product label and follow the usage instructions.
  13. Do not mix chlorine-based products such as bleach with acids, ammonia and other compounds, and always use alcohol and bleach in a well-ventilated area.
  14. Wash flood-drenched clothes and linens separately from uncontaminated ones.
  15. If needed, give damaged walls, appliances, furniture and fixtures a fresh coat of duly certified lead-safe paint.

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