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Monday, September 7, 2009

A Greener (but not Grassy) Knoll

CARE FOR THE EARTH has long been a Maryknoll concern, even before it became fashionable to recycle. Fully 30 years ago, Father John Barth (then still a sem?) actively advocated setting up bins to collect our old newspapers and cans. We planted trees. We installed water-efficient turbo flushers in our toilets. We began using energy-saving light bulbs.

Such is the nature of Maryknoll that many of these were individual initiatives which faded once the missioner returned overseas. What remains lacking is a coordinated, organizational awareness and push to go greener at the Knoll.

More ecologically minded visitors look aghast at our less than eco-friendly use of "disposable" plastic cups, utensils and dishes. We still provide "disposable" plastic bottled water rather than refill water bottles from a cooler or even the tap.

To be sure, some changes have been made "permanently," such as our dining room providing brown paper napkins made without toxic bleaching agents, and recycled/recyclable paper cups replacing styrofoam ones. But other ideas, alas, fell victim to the economy. House residents overwhelming supported a suggestion by Father John Ruessman to use only "Fair Trade" coffee. It was more expensive but deemed worth it. This started in 2008 about a month before the economy tanked. With a stroke of the pen and a dip in the Dow, Fair Trade went out the door.

Do you have any more suggestions how we can reduce Maryknoll's carbon footprint? (I've been told we can radically reduce Maryknoll's carbon buttprint by getting up off our asses and doing something about the environment.)

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