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Earth Day run photo goes viral, creates online uproar over strewn paper cups
The online news portal of TV5

(Update 6:45 pm) MANILA, Philippines -- A photo of an Earth Day run organized by National Geographic Channel (NatGeo) in Taguig City has been making the rounds of Facebook after it showed runners littering the street with paper cups.

The photo was posted Francis Xavier Pasion, a director at ABS-CBN, via his Facebook account on Sunday and has been shared more than 3,500 times as of 1 pm. 

In the picture, participants are seen running on one of the streets in Bonifacio Global City, indifferent to the litter strewn all over the gutter. At least one runner can be seen throwing her paper cup, adding to the litter. 

"I was so amused to see most runners scatter their used paper cups and bottled waters on the street. Oh, Mother Earth would be very proud of them...and the organizers," Pasion said in his Facebook account.

Most Facebook users who shared the photo were similarly incensed by the image, emphasizing the irony since the event intended to save the environment. 

"It failed the purpose. People in the Philippines run nowadays in order to brag about it and to give themselves a status or something like credit. It's just sad," said Paraknowyah Musiq.

Others criticized organizers for being unable to control the litter resulting from the event.

"What a waste of purpose, a waste of event and yes a big waste for NatGeo and whatever it is they promote. This doesn't seem to fit the brand's high standard," said Babyruth Villarama-Gutierrez.

Meanwhile, Eco-Waste Coalition, a pro-sustainable development and environmental group, also condemned the littering of the street on Earth Day.

Manny Calonzo of the Eco-Waste Coalition told InterAksyon that the organizers should be more keen on "reducing and managing garbage in all public events" that push for environmental preservation.

"There is no excuse for littering: an irresponsible act that is against the law (i.e., R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) and against the very purpose why we observe Earth Day," he said. "Next time, please don't litter."

Greenpeace Southeast Asia, which participated in a similar fun run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Sunday also advised race organizers to be more conscious about their pro-Earth events.

"While we understand that runners prefer to throw down their drinking cups so as not to break their pace during races that have staff to take care of their discards, we would still like to encourage runners to make that bit of sacrifice by bringing (or having a support team hand them) their own, reusable bottles instead, especially since not doing so runs contrary to causes that they are running for, like the environment," JP Agcaoili of Greenpeace told InterAksyon.

The World Wildlife Fund-Philippines encouraged runners to bring handy water bottles and flasks to quench their thirst. This will not only eliminate the use of disposable cups but also make the organizers mount their events with less resources.

"This will be less costly for everyone - the runners, organizers and associated local government units since minimal waste collection minimizes personnel overheads," the WWF-Philippines told InterAksyon.

InterAksyon has sought comments from the NatGeo's secretariat office but has yet to get a reply as of posting time.