Zamboanguita Composting Project

This is a project I did for my Ecology Adaptation and Sustainable Development course in 2012

Negros Oriental, Philippines

Composting is an easy way to start being sustainable. Around the country and around the world many people compost, unfortunately there are still millions who do not. I was living in Vermont for a few months in 2009. I was very pleased to see that everyone had a compost pile and separated their trash for recycling. It was sacrilegious in Vermont not to have a compost pile in your yard. The benefits of composting are obvious to some people and its importance is spreading, as more people educate themselves. This composting project will help us shift into a greener way of living. It will encourage others to be more conscious of their environment and brings communities together with sense of pride in caring for our planet.

I have been in the Philippines for 7 months now. I have seen some very resourceful practices. The people here have found multiple uses for many different things. The coconut tree is used for hundreds of purposes. Bamboo is another resource that is utilized everywhere in some way or another. This is common in developing countries more so than in developed. This ingenuity, albeit provoked due to financial constraints, is luckily working to create a sustainable society. Unfortunately, like everywhere in the world, there are many unsustainable practices here. I have chosen to tackle an issue that has multiple detrimental effects on the people and the environment.

The normal way to rid yard debris here in the Philippines is to burn it, along with other garbage, which may and usually does include some type of plastic. The two negative effects of this practice are, toxic smoke, and destroying a renewable resource. The yard debris such as leave, branches, grass cutting etc. are all compostable materials. Other household items are also compostable. Paper items and food items for instance a perfect materials

and can be composted instead of being brought to a landfill. (EPA, 2012) These material are a renewable source and when the process of composting is finished it can be put back into the earth which brings life back into the soil. By burning them you are destroying that resource and creating a public health hazard also. (EPA, 2011)

I intend to implement a free composting lesson to anyone who is interested. I have already spoken to Primitivo Caingcoy, the Environmental Director in Zamboanguita and he agrees with me that something needs to done. I have had two meetings with him thus far. My first meeting was a preliminary meeting to introduce myself and get a contact name. After that I emailed Mr. Caingcoy but hadn’t heard back from him so I decided to go to the office and see if he received my email. When I arrived he told me he got it but I guess he got busy and forgot. We went into his office and started disusing the project. He mentioned to me that the Peace Corp was going to be coming in July to work with the community and educate them on different topics. He agreed that my project was definitely needed and asked me what about the burning of sugar cane fields and vendors who BBQ on the street. I told him agriculturally that’s how they do the sugar cane. It’s done that way in Florida also. The BBQ is the least of the problem. I told him I think the people burning debris and plastics is the biggest problem and I know they have become accustomed to burning and have formed an emotional attachment towards burning, it will be more difficult to change their bad habits. I suggested that we use the health issues related to burning plastics and debris as a way to change the bad habit.

They recently passed laws in the main city Dumaguete and in Zamboanguita banning outdoor smoking. I told him we should be able to get laws passed on burning considering it is much worse than outdoor cigarette smoke. Another issue I brought up was regarding the plastics that they burn. If we start the composting there will be excess bags and plastics around. The town needs to set up a recycling pickup for this although I was told that there is actually a ban on plastic bags in Dumaguete and are recently having trouble with people complying, mostly the big stores started using them again saying that they were biodegradable when in fact after testing of the bags it turns out that they are not ecologically friendly. The bags degrade but only into smaller particles of the same material, so in truth they are even worse than regular plastic bags because they break down into small pieces which makes

cleanup even more difficult. I did some research on plastic bags a found out there not as big of a problem as people think as far as landfills are concerned. (Bell, 2011) Unfortunately burning plastic bags is a different story. I thought maybe in an instance such as this the best thing to do would be to put a temporary ban on them until they can find a better way to recycle them.

As I was leaving he recommended I speak to Rey Banua the radio station manager for the town and see if he can run an ad for me to promote the composting project. After my visit with Primitivo I went over to the station to see if I could find Rey. He was not there although I spoke to the DJ that was there and I got Rey cell number. I called him today and set up an appointment for tomorrow to meet with him I gave him some of the details and he thought it was a good idea and it seems he will be willing to help me.

I have made the flyer and had it translated into Visayan. I am going to make a double sided copy with both English and Visayan and distribute it to people in town. I was also thinking of making a canvas sign with important information on composting and putting it in town so everyone can see it. I made a power point presentation that I was thinking on using it as an information source that I can email to people. It has a video included in it demonstrating how to make the compost bins.

Here is an organization that has already implemented the same type of project to other cities in the Philippines. I have emailed them but so far I have not gotten a response back. I will be following that up this week. Here is the link to the pdf file with all the information about the project.

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

2108-11 Kamiyamaguchi, Hayama, Kanagawa, 240-0115 Japan TEL: +81-46-855-3700




EPA (2012, November 16). Environmental Benefits | Composting | US EPA. US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved March 23, 2013, from

EPA (2011, August 19). Backyard Trash Burning - Additional Information | Improving Air Quality in Your Community | US EPA. US Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from

Bell, K., & Cave, S. (2011, February 23). Comparison of Environmental Impact of Plastic, Paper and Cloth Bags. Home - Northern Ireland Assembly. Retrieved March 23, 2013, from