Archives

EIGHT REASONS … PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES

EIGHT REASONS TO RETHINK USING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES: 

June 21st marks Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The other half of our planet will move into winter then, but for those who share my half, we’ve already had proof that we’re headed to heat. (E.g., In mid-June Oman’s highest temperature for the day touched 49 ˚C —120 ˚F — in the capital.)

However, this blog is not about heat, nor about climate change, nor about the refugees it causes due to droughts and floods — though please note that June 20th is World Refugee Day. This blog is about bottled water. (Statistics vary; I did my best to use generally accepted numbers.)

About Water

First let’s rethink the value of water — the gift that dates to the stars and required billions of years to accumulate on our planet. All life (that we know about) started and survived because of it. Presumably, all future humans and species will depend on it. Water plays a key role in religious rituals such as baptisms. Water is essential for growing crops, providing beauty and renewal; it cools us …. Sister Water merits our respect and care!

About Plastic Water Bottles

In 1973,  a DuPont engineer patented polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, the first to be used for bottling water. Its light weight and resistance to breaking seemed advantageous. But would people buy a free product?  Indeed they have, and while it’s sometimes necessary, the rest seems to be nothing but clever advertising and dependence on convenience. What follows applies to all plastic bottles, but focuses on water because there are easy alternatives.

Even Pope Francis has asked us to reduce use of both plastic and water. From Laudato Si’:

There is a nobility to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption  ….. (par. 211)

Here are eight reasons to rethink the use of plastic water bottles:

1. You testify that drinking water is a human right, not a for-profit commodity —

Water is absolutely essential in maintaining human life, and nothing can substitute for it. On 28 July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights. ( Resolution 64/292)

2. You save the water used to make plastic bottles — 

For a true water footprint, consider all freshwater used in production: water used for drilling the petroleum for the plastic, water used in production, water used making packaging. It takes a minimum of 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water, but amounts could be up to six or seven times greater when everything is considered.

3. You save the water put into the bottles — 

Activists throughout the world strongly object to having their water bottled and sold back to them. The damage to their loved locales cannot be repaired. Companies take scarce water and sacred water. It’s a matter of justice! There are 50 billion water bottles consumed every year, about 30 billion of them in the U.S. Do the math.

4. You save the energy used to make and transport plastic bottles — 

Producing, packaging and transporting a liter of bottled water requires between 1,100 and 2,000 times more energy on average than treating and delivering the same amount of tap water, according to the Pacific Institute. Scientists of the Pacific Institute estimate that just producing the plastic bottles for bottled-water consumption worldwide uses 50 million barrels of oil annually—enough to supply total U.S. oil demand for 2.5 days. We all know how fossil fuels damage our climate.

If you imagine that every bottle of water you drink is about three-quarters water and one-quarter oil, you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of how much energy it takes to put that bottle of water in your hand.

5. You prevent pollution from bottles which, even if recycled, take years to disintegrate — 

There is no “away” to throw things to. About 13 percent of empty bottles are recycled, where they are turned into products like fleece clothing, carpeting, decking, playground equipment and new containers and bottles. (Three cheers for the companies that do this!)

The bottles not properly recycled end in landfills or in the ocean. Those fragments absorb toxins that pollute our waterways, contaminate our soil, and sicken animals. Plastic trash also absorbs organic pollutants like BPA and PCBs. They may take centuries to decompose while sitting in landfills, amounting to endless billions of little environmentally poisonous time bombs.

Plastic bottles and plastic bags that break down into smaller fragments over time are the most prevalent form of pollution found on our beaches and in our oceans. Every square mile of the ocean has over 46,000 pieces of floating plastic in it! Millions of pieces of plastic debris float in five large subtropical gyres in the world’s oceans. But even more plastic might be on the oceans’ floor, doing damage we can’t yet study.

“Besides providing food and raw materials, the oceans provide various essential environmental benefits such as air purification, a significant role in the global carbon cycle, climate regulation, waste management, the maintenance of food chains and habitats that are critical to life on earth.” (from Cardinal Turkson’s recent statement to the United Nations)

6. You protect fish, birds, and humans from effects of plastic pollution —

Birds and their young die from eating and being strangled by plastic debris in oceans and on land strewn with plastic pollution. These ingested chemicals can then affect humans when we eat contaminated fish. Not only are we severely harming the land, air and water around us, but the rest of the world has to pay the price for our thoughtless over-consumption. Our children and generations to come will be dealing with the problems we caused.

7. You avoid the toxins that can leach from plastic bottles — 

A thorough study by CertiChem found that more than 95 percent of the 450 plastic items tested proved positive for estrogen after undergoing sunlight, dishwashing, and microwaving. Even BPA-free products tested positive for released chemicals having estrogenic activity.

8. You save lots of money!

And so

Where safe drinking water is not available due to scarcity or pollution, plastic water bottles are needed. Otherwise, to protect the future of our beloved (and only) planet, our water and food supply, our climate, our oceans — use a thermos with tap water. Many varieties of faucet filters and pitcher filters exist. Group events can supply pitchers of water and glasses — or drinking stations with compostable cups. Some cities, universities, stores (e.g., Selfridges) and tourist areas (e.g., the Grand Canyon) have banned the sale of bottled water; some supplied drinking stations. Alert those who are unaware. To quote Pope Francis again: There is a nobility to care for creation through little daily actions.

Ash Wednesday 2017 Stardust Ritual

If ever we needed reminders of the fact of the interconnection among all existence, as affirmed by cosmology, quantum physics, and other sciences — as well as mystics and saints — it is now, when dualistic thinking is causing havoc. Whole groups are being vilified and artificially separated from the rest: “winners” from “losers”; “good guys” from whoever the judging group happens to be; humans from Earth, our common home with which we share existence. Lent offers a good opportunity to “re-pent” — re-think — these rifts.

image_540_1Everything has come from elements resulting from generations of exploding stars. Our Solar System and everything in it developed from a shimmering cloud of stardust elements like calcium, carbon, and hydrogen resulting from a supernova explosion. Thus we, too, are made of stardust elements. On Ash Wednesday, Christians traditionally receive a cross of ashes on their foreheads to remind them that they are dust. The following ritual is meant to enrich this realization by reminding us that, even before we are dust, we are stardust!  (For a two-sided pdf copy, please contact terrishcj@aol.com.)

Needed: one candle and a dish of dirt (or glitter, representing stardust). Decide who will read.

Leader: To begin, let us pause to recall past times whenashes_6329cp we have received ashes on our foreheads and heard words like these: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  Remember how that influenced your practices during Lent.  

Pause to Reflect.  
Carry those thoughts and graces with you now, but place them in a larger context: the context of the entire universe and its amazing 13.8 billion-year history. After billions of years, thanks to the divine Mystery living and acting in our world and in us, stars formed and died in the process of bringing Earth to existence. We became part of this blessed creation. We are connected to all life; we have a role in this sacred story!

Light candle. 

blastReader One: The massive star that was mother to our Sun met with fiery death, her form completely annihilated by the explosive force of the blast. And yet she exists in each of us, in the cells of our bodies that are composed of her dust. Consciously or not, we carry her within us as surely as we carry the DNA of our biological parents. (Radical Amazement, Judy Cannato)

Reader Two: Our planet Earth was once a dancing star, evolving over four and a half billion years ago from the many elements of [an exploding] supernova. I have loved knowing that we are “made of stardust” . . .  I like knowing that the composition of my body has the elements of a star that was once brilliantly aglow in the universe and is now dancing in me. There’s a magical sense of connection that comes from this knowledge . . . . (The Cosmic Dance, Joyce Rupp)

Reader Three: Dust particles are suspendedimages in the air at all times, unnoticed until sunlight bathes them in radiant streaming light. In this warmth, the specs sparkle. No one who cares about shiny furniture is unaware of what dust can accomplish, just by being. Nothing is insignificant in our universe!

Litany of gratitude:
•  for the Spirit present within the creative process of creation and within each of us, We are grateful.
•  for the generations of supernovas that exploded, resulting in stars with increasingly more of the heavy elements, eventually leading to the supernova that resulted in our solar system and galaxy, We are grateful.
images-5•  for Sister Dirt, because of whom we can enjoy food, flowers, plants, clean air, shade, and revelations of the divine, We are grateful.
•  for farmers who till the soil, especially our local farmers who do it organically using fair trade practices, We are grateful.
•  for those who lobby to prevent mono-cropping, toxic fertilizers, and the use of GMO’s that endanger the earth, We are grateful.
•  for the scientists, theologians, thinkers, writers, speakers and artists who have helped us realize our place in creation — [Pause to quietly remember one or two who have helped you. Name them if you wish], We are grateful.
•  for those present and throughout the world committed to creating a flourishing Earth, including Pope Francis, and for his encyclical Laudato Si’We are grateful.

Sharing:
Jesus, too, was stardust! Jesus, too, died to give new life, as each seed must do. How might we connect the creation  story with our Lent experiences this year? How might our Lent resolutions reflect our call to care for E/earth?

Blessing of soil (or glitter):
May this soil (or glitter), which dates back billions of years images-2and which took over 4 billion years to form on Earth, keep us humble — humus is the Latin for soil. May it remind us of who we are and how vitally we interconnect with the rest of creation. May we trust in divine power working in us for the good of all creation.  Amen.

Individual blessings, using soil (or glitter):
Depending on the number of participants, either divide into pairs, each member blessing the other with soil from the center bowl, or form a circle and pass the bowl of soil, each blessing the person on his or her right.

100_1230Thank you, (name), for bringing your starlight into my life. I bless you and the star-stuff you invest in caring for all of creation. (Add anything you may wish to say at the beginning of our Lenten Journey.)

Extinguish candle. 

Socialize.

Trafficking Ritual 2017

1715228621_95dffe8330Christmas and its rich mythology call us to look past the serene pictures on cards and enter a story of homelessness, poverty, political repression and slaughter, refugees, and being strangers in a land where ancestors were enslaved for being “different.”

It is fitting that the week after Christmas begins National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, followed by days calling our attention to this blight: January 11, National Human Trafficking Awareness Day; January 17th (sometimes listed as the 15th or 19th), World Day of Migrants and Refugees (so easily prey to traffickers); February 8, International Trafficking Day and feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita (patron saint of victims of trafficking); even February 5, Super Bowl Sunday, when sex trafficking has been known to increase.

Those aware of the intrinsic bonds and interconnections among all life feel the pain of the children, men and women forced into bondage with no hope of rescue. I am grateful to Rose Mary Meyer, BVM, for providing the following Trafficking Ritual that can be used at any time. Human trafficking, Rose Mary reminds us, is happening every day, all year long, locally and globally.

Trafficking Ritual 2017

Instrumental Music

iraqi-refugees-mosul-offensiveOpening Prayer

Merciful and loving Creator, we have gathered together to hold in prayer those whom you cherish but who are bound by the trauma of labor and/or sex trafficking.  These children, women and men are hidden in plain sight among us, are clothed in fear-filled silence, are victims of trauma unable to break free.  May we open our eyes and our hearts to these persons who are trafficked in our midst.

Reading

Those caught in the horror of trafficking are missing persons.  Some have been missing for years.  Some have been discovered in graves.  Some have bodies that are diseased, mutilated, tortured.  Some have spirits that are damaged psychologically.  Many of these women and men are missing in multiple ways but are in our midst.

Source: Not a Choice, Not a Job, Janice G. Raymond.  Adapted

Shared Silence

Reading

Nikola, a young woman who is trafficked, feels she is of no value.  She feels she is in exile, away from all she knew growing up — family, home, friends, school, music, country of origin.

Shared Silence

Reading
child-trafficking
Samantha, a person who is trafficked, feels like a caged bird, caged in a room where she feels she is imprisoned by mistake, with no understanding of why this happened to her or how she is going to escape.  She is desperate.

Shared Silence

Reading

Othello feels trapped in the horror of labor trafficking.  He has no idea where he is or how to find his way back home in London.  He is brought to the restaurant everyday around five in the morning where he washes dishes, stacks and unstacks chairs, scrubs floors, peels vegetables and cuts fruit.  He eats what’s left on the plates of those who come to the restaurant to sit down and enjoy one another and the food.  When the work is finished after the last customers leave around 10 or 11 PM, he is taken to a house where other men who are trafficked live.  Each is locked from the outside in a small room with a mattress.  In a few hours all are awakened and driven back to the restaurant.

Shared Silence

Reader

Karena met Dusty at a club.  He bought her drinks and offered to take her home.  She was naïve in believing that he was concerned about her.  Home that night became a house where three other trafficked women already lived.  Dusty raped her the first night she was there.  She’s still recovering from all the unspeakable violence that she experienced from being trafficked, but she is deeply grateful for whoever reported what that person believed was happening in this house owned by the trafficker.  The house was raided by law enforcement.  She is now stitching her life together, slowly healing her physical and psychological wounds that will take a long time and many caring, loving, compassionate, understanding support people.  She knows she will be supported by these people on her life journey.

Shared Silence

Reading

We realize that children and adults are forced or deceived and moved to unfamiliar places for forced labor, for sexual exploitation.  Their humanness is degraded.  We feel sad.  We feel angry.  We feel fear at times.  We feel helpless at times.  We don’t always contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline — 2015-03-26-1427373681-8625596-polarisbillboard_lv_sextrafficking_phone 1 888 373-7888 — when we might have witnessed a trafficking situation.  May we strengthen each other in our commitment to open our eyes to the reality of trafficking and make calls, give only Fair Trade items as gifts, drink only Fair Trade coffee, tea, cocoa; feed our chocolate cravings with only Fair Trade chocolate, and help end this global and local slave trade in any way we can.  May we mirror in our actions the mercy and love of our Creator of all beings.

Concluding Prayer

Response

Creator of all beings, may we model your mercy, love, and compassion for our sisters and brothers who are trafficked.

We remember those caught in the web of local and global trafficking who are being moved from one unknown place to another.

Response

We remember those who are forced to live unspeakably horrible lives as humans who are labor and/or sex trafficked.

Response

We remember those who suffer unimaginable loneliness, nostalgia, physical and psychological pain.

Response

We remember our sisters and brothers who are trapped in the horrors of trafficking and still hold on to hope for freedom.

Response

All

p17fstq1utfvjid9g561f6ocdr0_61214May we all act with blessing rather than condemnation
toward our sisters and brothers
who are trafficked
and help to create
a tomorrow of freedom and justice.

May these persons who are trafficked
feel included rather than excluded
in societies worldwide.

May they experience renewing opportunities,
hear a strong voice for justice
and witness courageous actions against trafficking.

May they be abundantly blessed
with mercy and love from all of us,
inspired by our Creator of mercy and love.
Amen.  Amen.  Amen.

Text created by Rose Mary Meyer, BVM
Project IRENE