Tuesday, March 18, 2008

IREJN (Connecticut IPL) in the news

The Eco-Justice blogger herself is quoted in this article that appeared in the Sunday Republican-American. Read the story below:
Palm Sunday goes green
Today innumerable churchgoers will attend Mass and tenderly clasp a green, symbolic palm leaf. Priests will bless them. Parishioners will fold or cut them into crucifixes, pin them to their lapels or display them at home to remind them of Jesus' humble entry into Jerusalem.Each year, about 300 million palm fronds are harvested and sold to U.S. churches for Palm Sunday, according to Lutheran World Relief. For decades, indigenous farmers in northern Guatemala and southern Mexico gathered as many of the palms as they could — the rotting ones, the torn ones, the baby ones — the ones that can't be used and had to be thrown out.This type of harvest produces a waste ratio as high as 50 percent, according to the Presbyterian Church U.S.A."They would just cut everything down and bring them in, then the people who buy them look through them and throw them (the bad ones) away," said the Rev. Denise Clapsaddle of Riverton Congregational Church. "Now the people harvesting do the quality control and that's how they've cut out the middle man."With this new harvesting method, discarded palms account for 5 to 7 percent and allow more money to go to the harvesters and their community, she explained."It's both a justice issue for the people who harvest palm and an environmental issue for more sustainable agriculture so the land isn't destroyed. It's more efficient to do it this way," she said.Clapsaddle, who also serves as an administrator for the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network (an interfaith environmental group) and blogs about religious environmentalism, said the use of eco-palms is becoming a more prevalent custom.In 2007, 1,436 churches in America used 364,000 eco-palm stems. According to the New York Times, Lutheran churches are the biggest buyers of eco-palms, followed by the Presbyterian Church.The eco-palms, Clapsaddle noted, do cost more than regular palms."That's the only disadvantage for a church that's really tight on funds," she said. "It's a long-term verses short-term argument ... but if we destroy the habitat, the price of palms go up for everybody."Lutheran World Relief has partnered with the University of Minnesota to sell eco-palms and is taking orders for 2009. A small case, 200 stems, can be purchased for $47.40 plus shipping. According to Biblical Reporter News, eco-palms cost more than double regular palms.Many churches recycle the palms by burning them for the following year's Ash Wednesday service. Riverton Congregational uses the palms as decoration after the Palm Sunday service. They also rent potted palms as decoration during Holy Week, a practice that Clapsaddle said is not uncommon.The Congregational churches, Clapsaddle said, have not jumped on the eco-palm board as quickly as other denominations, but she said she hopes to have eco-palms in her church by next year."It's not just one thing that's going to help us preserve the environment for the next generations; it's lots of little steps, so any steps people are willing to take that gets people in the congregation to care, is a good thing," she said.She said churches seem to be excited knowing that purchasing eco-palms helps not only the environment, but people as well."They're helping people right now by doing this," she said.
Eco-palms can be purchased through Lutheran World Relief
(phone) 612-624-7418
(fax) 612-625-5212
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 26 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at http://www.theregenerationproject.org/State.
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