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3/16/2011 2:07:00 PM
Catholic organizations are top-notch in sustainable operations
Adelante Mujeres photo
Guadalupe Maldonado shows off the durable, washable plates on which  Adelante Mujeres’ farmers’ market vendors now serve food, which has kept  an average of two garbage bags out of the landfill each week.
Adelante Mujeres photo
Guadalupe Maldonado shows off the durable, washable plates on which Adelante Mujeres’ farmers’ market vendors now serve food, which has kept an average of two garbage bags out of the landfill each week.
The pope speaks on the environment
• "The denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet it also devastates creation. It follows that the protection of creation is not principally a response to an aesthetic need, but much more to a moral need, in as much as nature expresses a plan of love and truth which is prior to us and which comes from God.

• "It is proper, however, that this concern and commitment for the environment should be situated within the larger framework of the great challenges now facing mankind. If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn?"

• "I would like to stress again that the protection of creation calls for an appropriate management of the natural resources of different countries and, in the first place, of those which are economically disadvantaged."
— address to Vatican diplomats, Jan. 11, 2010   

• "Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen 'that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.'"

• "A greater sense of intergenerational solidarity is urgently needed. Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources."

• "It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view."
— World Day of Peace message, Jan. 1, 2010

• “At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope. Let no one draw back from this peaceful battle that has been launched by Christ’s Resurrection."
 — Urbi et Orbi address, Easter 2009

• “The brutal consumption of Creation begins where God is not, where matter is henceforth only material for us, where we ourselves are the ultimate demand, where the whole is merely our property and we consume it for ourselves alone…I think, therefore, that true and effective initiatives to prevent the waste and destruction of Creation can be implemented and developed, understood and lived, only where Creation is considered as beginning with God.”
— response to question from professor at Bressanone, Italy, August 2008

• “Make the responsibilities visible so that we may respond to this great challenge: to rediscover the Face of the Creator in Creation, to rediscover in the Creator’s presence our responsibilities for his Creation, which he has entrusted to us, to form the ethical capacity for a lifestyle that we must adopt if we wish to tackle the problems of this situation [of climate change] and if we really want to reach positive solutions.

• “My dear friends, God’s creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity.”
— message at World Youth Day, June 2008

Clarice Keating
Of the Catholic Sentinel

Sometimes, it’s not easy being green. But more often, local Catholic-affiliated organizations say, it’s pretty simple to incorporate small changes into the workday that make a big difference in saving the planet.

For their efforts, two organizations and one school in the state were recognized last year in a list of Oregon’s Top 100 Best Green Companies, published by Oregon Business magazine.

Adelante Mujeres in Forest Grove, ranking No. 7 on the list, has among its core values to love and respect the earth.

“From the get go, we made a commitment that we wanted to, throughout the organization and with all of our programs, keep this beautiful Earth at the forefront of our thinking when we’re designing a program or discussing ways to enhance programs,” said Bridget Cooke, executive director.

Cooke founded the organization with Holy Names Sister Barbara Raymond in 2002. That commitment is reflected in the organization’s programming in education, empowerment and enterprise for immigrant families, but also in its everyday operations.

Employees don’t use disposable dishes or silverware during meetings at the office, and the organization has also introduced a program where all its farmers’ market vendors use reusable plates, which are gathered and washed. This summer they will introduce a non-disposable cup.

Back in the office in Forest Grove, employees recycle and compost food waste. They use natural cleaning supplies, a simple recipe of Castile soap, borax and vinegar. They use cloth hand towels in the bathrooms, which employees take turns carrying home on weekends to wash. Computer monitors are shut down every night, and all lights have compact florescent bulbs.

The organization operates with three bottom lines, Cooke said – people, planet and profit.

Last year’s 100 Best Green Companies were picked based on a sustainable practices section in a survey of more than 26,000 employees and 505 for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations.  

Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest earned the 33rd ranking on the list.

“Jesuit Volunteers live in communities that commit to simple living embodying a healing and sustainable presence on the Earth,” said Jeanne Haster, executive director.

Energy efficient furnaces were installed at the office, and staff built a community garden, which they share with low-income residents in North Portland.

Program staffers usually travel to work by bike or public transportation, and they traded paper documentation for electronic as much as possible. Furniture in the office was used when it was acquired, and when it breaks, it is repaired instead of replaced. A Portland Development Commission grant allowed the organization to install screen doors and awnings for temperature control during the summer months.

Holy Redeemer School in North Portland was 56th on the list.

The school and its parish are governed in part by an environmental stewardship committee, formed in 2008 to help the community become more environmentally conscious.  

Even before the committee was created, the parish had long nurtured a sense of stewardship by using efficient light fixtures, recycling, installing double-paned windows and donating leftovers from the cafeteria to local hungry.

Since 2008, larger projects have been carried out. A bioswale was installed to absorb runoff. Storm water cisterns collect rainwater for the 7,500-square-foot pastoral vegetable and fruit garden, built on the site of an unused play area. Children experience hands-on lessons about growing food and extra produce is donated to St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Food waste and leaves from the many trees on the campus are composted, and cafeteria trash has been reduced from several full bags of garbage daily to just one.

Maria Elmore, the school's development director, said Holy Redeemer's earth-friendly way of conducting business is a big selling point for new families who decide to enroll their children.

"The message the school hopes students will take away is to be conscious of the footprints we leave on Earth and how we can minimize those," Elmore said.

The students get it, she said. Many of the "green" projects at the school are now student-driven.

Other Catholic organizations appeared on another one of the magazine’s “Top 100” lists. Among the best non-profits to work for were: Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst, DePaul Industries, La Salle Catholic College Preparatory, Blanchet Catholic School, The Macdonald Center and the Northwest Catholic Counseling Center.

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