Sister Rebecca
Sister Rebecca
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Sister Roberta
Sister Roberta

 

Most religious congregations today have in some shape or form ‘Care for the Earth’  as part of their charism.  This year, 2009, being the Year of the Environment in Pakistan we, Columban Sisters, took up the challenge to do something concrete to care for Mother Earth.  According to our local newspaper DAWN, January was designated the month to ‘Say NO to plastic bags’ so this was an opportunity to stretch our imagination to make a difference.  
Active listening
Active listening
 
Mr. Plastic Bag brags about being 500-1000 years old.
Mr. Plastic Bag brags about being 500-1000 years old.
Research showed us:

“The average plastic carrier bag is used for five minutes, but takes 500 years to decompose.”

Each year across the world some 500 billion plastic bags are used and only a tiny fraction of them are recycled. Most of them will have a short lifetime with a consumer – they will be used for the few minutes it takes to get from the store to home and then they will be thrown away.

For every bag, there’s a cost.   Plastic shopping bags can last up to a thousand years in a landfill. In the environment, they break down into tiny, toxic particles that become part of the soil and water. 
Do not use plastic bags!
Do not use plastic bags!
 
'No' to plastic bags!
‘No’ to plastic bags!
Also plastic and other plastic refuse that end up in the ocean, kill up to one million sea creatures every year, such as birds, whales, seals, sea turtles, and others. And the number of marine mammals that die each year because of eating or being entanglement in plastic is estimated at 100,000 in the North Pacific Ocean alone.
Which brings us to the “paper or plastic” question. The best answer is really neither. Paper bags have their own environmental cost. According to research, 14 million trees were cut down in 1999 to produce 10 billion grocery bags in America. The production and shipping of the bags also contributes to global warming and air pollution.

It turns out ‘paper or plastic’ is a life or death issue for our environment.

 
Death of a tree.
Death of a tree.
 
Get yourself a cloth bag.
Get yourself a cloth bag.
The best alternative is: reusable bags and education, lots of it. By purchasing a reusable cloth bag, consumers can save hundreds and perhaps thousands of plastic or paper bags being needed or used.

Columban Sisters’ Response:
By saying ‘NO’ to plastic bags we saw that we needed to offer an alternative.  Through our Prison Ministry the women in the jail have begun making attractive, reusable bags in a variety of materials and colours that actually folds up into a zipped pocket for easy carrying.  This project is sponsored by the Greystones Justice Parish Two Coats programme.

In 2004, in response to the need for effective grassroots Awareness programs   among local communities, the Columban Sisters initiated the training of a group of young people in street theatre techniques through drama workshops.  Over time, they have developed dramas on topics such as HIV/AIDS, T.B., Gender Issues and Disability Awareness through funds contributed by The Apostolic Workers, Ferns; Trocaire, Ireland and Columban Sisters, Ireland.

In collaboration with them, a new drama was developed on Environmental issues especially the hazards associated with plastic bags as they affect our environment at the local level.

This Street Theatre team has fully taken-up this challenge, and these young people have become ‘ambassadors’ of this environmental message.

The bottom line is that we are the only ones that can change this reality.  It is up to us to Refuse (avoid); Reduce; Recycle; Reuse plastic bags wherever we live and whatever our circumstances.

This is about more than just the environment; it is about health, caring for Mother Earth and focusing on what kind of world we want to hand on to future generations.

 
Caring for the earth.
Caring for the earth.
 
Celebrating Creation: trees, wind....
Celebrating Creation: trees, wind….
 
Committed to a cause.
Committed to a cause.
 
Sisters Roberta and Rebecca among friends.
Sisters Roberta and Rebecca among friends.
Categories 2009