World Environment Day: Beat Plastic Pollution
June 1, 2023
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Ecological Conversion

Edited version of an article by Sr Gail Jagroop OP from her blog, Isidore y Maria Eco-Garden

Pope Francis has this uncanny way of putting words together that the average person would not ordinarily do. Two such words are Ecology and Conversion.

I have been contemplating ecological conversion for a while and here are some thoughts gleaned from efforts to think more ecologically and develop habits and attitudes that reflect care of the earth and the environment.

I used to think that things ‘foreign’ were better than things local…clothes, food, devices, etc. Now I realise that buying local doesn’t have to compromise quality. In fact, some things manufactured locally are of a far superior quality.

Buying local helps the earth because it reduces the energy ordinarily required to transport the goods from the manufacturer to me, the consumer. Buying local also benefits the local manufacturer.

I used to think that supermarket shopping was a timesaver. One stop shopping! I get everything I need in one place. Saves time and energy – my own.

Now I am more conscious that where I shop has consequences for the earth. It’s not just about me. I may still need to shop at a supermarket, but buying my vegetables direct from the farmer in the farmers market helps the farmer too. He gets the full amount for his produce without going through a middle person and I get a fresher product.

In addition, it eliminates the need for packaging and saves the earth from having to contend with that much more waste. It’s a win-win all round!

I used to just buy food because I needed to eat. No matter the cost, I bought it. Now I am more conscious of so many other considerations about the food I eat.

Where did it come from? How was it grown? Were fertilisers used? Pesticides? Is it fresh or processed? If processed, what went into the processing? How has the quality of the food been impacted by the processing?

What about the packaging? How was it transported? Under what conditions were the animals reared? What do they feed on? Are they treated with hormones or not? What about the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere from the production of meat? I learnt of the huge carbon footprint generated in producing meat. I am trying to eat less.

I used to pride myself about recycling. Yep, it cut down by more than half, the amount of garbage I threw out. I recycled plastics, bottles, paper products…hurrah for me!

But according to UN.Org., 13 million tonnes of plastic leak into the oceans every year.

Ten per cent of all human generated waste is plastic.

Fifty per cent of consumer plastics are single use.

I am learning that recycling is not good enough. If possible, I have to eliminate single use plastics from my life – straws, bottled water, individual packages of juices, yogurt, fruit cocktail.

The pandemic made me so much more aware of the huge amount of waste generated from single use plastics. It seemed like a necessity during the pandemic, but the cost to the environment was huge.

I plan to invest in bulk buying of items as far as I can, to reduce my consumption of single use plastics and I try to remember to take along my cloth shopping bags to the market.

Here in the Moruga parish, I discourage the use of drinks in plastic containers recommending cans or bottles instead. I also discourage the use of plastic bags, suggesting brown paper bags as an alternative. As far as possible we use biodegradable food containers instead of those made of Styrofoam.

Conversion is a work in process!