Michael Klecheski, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy with Liza Silerio, Program Director on Environment & Sustainability

US Embassy underscores the need to address plastic use in Earth Day celebration

The United States Embassy in Manila today highlighted the need to address environmental degradation brought about by the worsening problem of plastic use noting that it is one of the most serious threats to marine life and resources.

Speaking during the Green Film Festival to mark the Earth Day celebration at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, Michael Klecheski, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Manila, said plastic is one of the biggest sources of water and marine life pollution.

“This year’s theme (of Earth Day) is World’s Mismanaged Wastes and Debris and this is something important to the world and fundamentally important to the Philippines and we all experience it. You all know the damage that all that plastic does if we don’t manage it properly as you can see in the Manila Bay,” he said.

“Your DENR is addressing it. Government doing all the stuff is very important but the truth is we need good partners in the civil society, business and people as a whole. Every individual can contribute,” he stated.

Michael Klecheski, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy interacting with the student attendees.

Klecheski said the Earth Day and the GFF are a good way to remind the people on the importance of taking care of the environment and to recommit to protecting nature and world around us.

He said they have decided to partner with SM Supermalls, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education in holding this quarter’s GFF run in various SM malls all over the country because they believe in what SM and GFF strive to do in the project.

“The US has been committed to environmental work for a very long time and it’s important for us to have great partners and SM is a great partner in this because we have been doing this for a long time. The youth is an important group that we have to inculcate the importance of environmental consciousness not just so they know it but they have to do something about it and that’s true for every generation,” he said.

SM has been holding GFF for the past nine years in a bid to raise awareness on the current state of environment to encourage positive action towards preserving the eco-system. Environmental documentaries are shown quarterly in SM Cinemas to high school and college students for free.

Since its start, more than 700,000 students have been able to watch environmentally-themed movies and documentaries.

Liza Silerio, Program Director for SM Cares’ Program on Environment, said the GFF is a continuing commitment of SM to care for the environment as it highlights the importance of bringing the issue of environmental protection closer to young people.

“Our aim is to bring to the young people the beauty of our world – clean air, fresh water and at the same time show the effects of disasters due to climate change and many others caused by people. We want to create a change in the way we think, we feel, and we do. Let’s be mindful of the environment and the planet we all live in,” she said.

She also expressed gratitude for the continuing partnership SM has with the US Embassy starting many years ago on the Trash for Cash project, the Bamboo Planting project in Hinulugang Taktak in Antipolo and the other projects of SM Cares.

High school students from Corazon Aquino School in Tondo, Manila, Taguig National High School and SOS Children’s Village watched “Racing Extinction”, an award-winning documentary by the American Film Showcase, which talks about mass extinction of species due to poaching, global warming and overpopulation.