This article originally appeared on VICE Asia
Across Asia, various efforts to improve the dire global issue of pollution have been making headlines. Take when Thai and Vietnamese supermarkets started using banana leaves instead of plastic as an example, or when the Philippines did the same. Seeing these changes restores our faith in humanity, and only more are happening throughout the region.
On top of throwing hats in the air and going out for post-celebration food, planting trees is officially becoming a part of the Filipino graduation tradition.
This has happened since a bill was passed by the House of Representatives requiring elementary, high school and college students to plant 10 trees before being able to graduate, the CNN reports.
The “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act,” was passed on May 15th by Gay Alejano, MADGALO representative, and Strike Revilla, Cavite 2nd District representative. On top of having an immediate positive impact on the environment, the bill will also instil a new set of environmentally friendly values in young kids. Over generations, it is hoped that kids with this mindset will go on to take more far-reaching environmental actions for long-lasting change.
Explaining the motive behind the bill, Alejano said: "With over 12 million students graduating from elementary and nearly five million students graduating from high school and almost 500,000 graduating from college each year, this initiative, if properly implemented, will ensure that at least 175 million new trees would be planted each year. In the course of one generation, no less than 525 billion can be planted under this initiative.” He added that “even with a survival rate of only 10 per cent, this would mean an additional 525 million trees would be available for the youth to enjoy."
But who would check that students actually do this? The Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education are among the governing bodies that will work to implement the bill in schools. They are encouraging students to plant trees that are indigenous species which are appropriate to their location and climate. The trees are allowed to be planted in forests, mangroves, specific urban areas and abandoned mine sites amongst others.
So potentially, this bill could add billions of trees to the Philippines. Imagine if more countries worldwide were to follow suit with such forward-thinking policies. Despite all the damage and deforestation that has already been done, our dreams of a better world might become a slightly closer reality.