WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Caring for Nature – Reduce Plastic Use

Catherine Gibbs, TCI

“Our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not yet developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximising their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of conteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet.” Laudato Si’ #22

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Rot.

Do we apply the same rules about reduced packaging and plastic waste to areas of our lives beyond our own household setting? Has your parish seriously considered reducing energy bills, tackling climate change and building a more ecologically sustainable future? How well do our parish communities apply the four Rs?

Recycling plastic saves on energy, natural resources and landfill space.

Plastic bags are not biodegradable

Plastic bags are an unsustainable product that we continue to use freely. They fly off trash piles, garbage trucks, and landfills; they clog storm-water infrastructure, float down waterways, and mar the landscape, or break down into ever smaller particles, which pollute soil and water.

Plastic bags are dangerous to birds and marine mammals that mistake them for food, eg sea turtles eat them as jellyfish. Thousands of animals die after swallowing or choking on plastic bags.

Unlike biodegradable and organic matter, plastic remains plastic – clogging up landfills and rivers, oceans, forests and deserts, and releasing chemicals into the environment.

Plastics can become micro-plastics, entering our food chain and contributing to the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ and other oceanic trash deposits. Ongoing research from Auckland University’s Institute of Marine Science has shown 8 of 9 common New Zealand fish species eat plastic regularly, possibly putting New Zealander’s health at risk.

Eleven times in his encyclical Pope Francis insists ‘everything is connected’. ‘The earth our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth’. LS #21.

Plastic audit

Within your parish consider reusable and biodegrable alternatives to plastic for your parish functions, liturgies, administration, presbytery, grounds and meditation spaces.

  • Recycle rubbish and waste.
  • Use non-plastic containers for foodbank donations.
  • Use more sustainable goods and packaging at charitable recycle shops.
  • Have reusable containers, dishes and cutlery in parish kitchens for hospitality.
  • For detergents, handsoaps, cleaning and disinfecting, use refills or glass containers; mix organic ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar for cleaning.
  • Use glass or natural wood for sacred vessels containing holy oils at and after Chrism Masses.

Laudato Si’ is about caring for the planet and future generations. Everywhere we need to embrace its messages wholeheartedly and walk the talk.

As Jeanette Fitzsimons states in a recent Tui Motu InterIslands article, ‘The biggest disrespect we could offer Francis now would be to remain silent’.

WelCom August 2017