Many diocesan parishes and schools undertake daily efforts to be good stewards of the earth’s resources and produced goods. They recycle paper, cardboard, electronics, clothing and more. If you don’t already recycle such items curbside or elsewhere, the churches and schools will gladly accept your items. They will also earn a larger cash bonus as a result.
In honor of Earth Day, take a look at some recent efforts and see if you can get any ideas:
- Electronic Recycling Drive: April 22-29 at Brophy College Preparatory (map). Westtech Recyclers offers this list of what you can recycle.
- Green Team: Seton College Preparatory’s Environmental Club and class was named one of this year’s Green Teams by the Phoenix Suns and APS. Both groups awarded Seton for their campus-wide recycling efforts (25,000 plastic water bottles and 2.5 tons of paper and cardboard this school year alone) and initiatives to raise the environmental conscience of fellow students.
They also offered these tips for creating a sustainable kitchen:
1. Create an organic herb garden on your kitchen windowsill that uses natural fertilizers and pest control, and is convenient for cooking.
2. Compost your waste. This is a practically effortless alternative to throwing food, newspapers and grass clippings in a landfill. There are affordable kitchen composters and tumblers available. Compost makes a great fertilizer!
3. Design with green in mind. When it comes to kitchen remodeling, choose products and paint with few or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for salvaged and refurbished kitchen cabinets; consider countertops that contain post-consumer recycled content and rapidly renewable flooring such as bamboo or cork.
4. Use natural light when possible along with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). And don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave the room.
5. Shop locally-grown products such as fruits and vegetables. You can support local farmers and businesses and reduce your “food miles,” i.e., the distance your food has to travel to get to you and the amount of fuel used to transport it.
6. Reduce “throw away” products. Instead of plastic bags and bottles intended for use once, pack reusable containers in lunch boxes along with PBA-free refillable water bottles. Try reusable cloth shopping bags. Use real dishware instead of “throw away” Styrofoam® or plastic. Take your plastic grocery bags back to your local grocery store—many stores have these programs in place.
7. Buy recycled when you can. Look for paper towels, trash bags and coffee filters. And don’t forget about notebooks and printer paper, too!
8. Equip sinks with faucet aerators to significantly reduce water usage and water bills, too. Consider low-flow shower heads and toilets.
9. Maintain indoor air quality by regularly replacing central air filters, using the stove vent and opening windows. Choose cleaning products without toxic chemicals and pesticides.
10. Purchase ENERGY STAR qualified appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens. They use up to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models. Also, unplug smaller appliances such as blenders and toasters after use.
- Recycle Bowl: Students at two other schools can give tips for raising the eco-conscious of a large group of people. Bourgade Catholic High School in Phoenix placed second in a statewide Recycle Bowl with St. John Bosco students in Ahwatukee placed third.
Bourgade’s Earth Watch Club Earth Watch Club rallied enough students to recycle that they netted 10 pounds of recyclables per student. See related article about St. John Bosco students.
- Recycle Your Bicycle: Stephen Buckel, an eighth-grader at St. John Bosco, earned a Christian Service Award from the Catholic Community Foundation earlier this year, in part because of his charitable work with Recycle Your Bicycle. The group collects used bicycles and then volunteers — individuals and Scout groups — fix and clean them to give to kids in foster care. He noted that as a favorite service project because “just knowing that our work was going to surprise hundreds of kids who otherwise might never own a bike made me happy,” Buckel wrote in a Q-and-A for the school’s website.
- “Bench the Bag” Project: St. Timothy School in Mesa teamed up with East Valley Recycling Alliance in March to encourage students to recycle plastic bags from grocery stores, dry cleaners, bread and more. The winning school earned a bench made from recycled plastic bags.
- Earth Week: Notre Dame Preparatory students in Scottsdale held an Earth Week earlier this month. The Helping Our Tomorrow Today Club organized themed dress days to encourage recycling and awareness of endangered species, the ocean and flowers.
Other resources for Catholics interested in conservation efforts:
- St. Kateri Tekakwith Conservation Center
- Book: “Catholicism, Ecology and the Environment: A Bishop’s Reflection”
- Resources for Earth Day from Catholic Climate Covenant
- What you can do from Catholic Climate Covenant