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Posts Tagged ‘Conservation’

This post is part of our Lenten Reflection Series: Be A Fountain of Mercy
Authored by Sister Mary Antonine Manning, SND

The burning bush that was not consumed and the barren fig tree that was spared destruction can lead us to a consideration of the duty of care for our common home—the Earth.

In his encyclical On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si’) Pope Francis proposes certain practices that may seem trivial but as he says, “directly and significantly affect the world around us.” Among these are choosing to use less heating and wearing warmer clothes instead, avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating trash and recyclables, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living things, using public transport or carpooling, planting trees, and turning off unnecessary lights (L.S. 211).

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“Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity,” (L.S. 211). The Pope decries what he terms a throwaway culture. “[W]e know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded and ‘whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor,’” (L.S. 50).

Lent provides us with the impetus to examine our lifestyle and to evaluate our stewardship of the Earth.

Questions for reflection:

Am I striving to be aware of how my actions affect others—my brothers and sisters throughout the world?

What type of ecological situations are we forcing future generations to face by ignoring ecological problems now?

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Notre Dame Center sits on about 4.5 acres of land on Hendrix Avenue in Thousand Oaks and houses 32 Sisters of Notre Dame. In light of the worsening drought, several sisters were concerned that their 1.5 acres of landscaped space might be using too much water. So, with the help of California American Water and Blue Watchdog Conservation firm, they conducted a water survey on their property.

The survey revealed that there were, in fact, several simple fixes that could save the sisters water and money. First, the surveyors recommended installing two new Weather Based Irrigation Controllers (WBICs).  According to the survey, the WBICs “work by using specific information about the site, including weather patterns, plant types, soil type, slope, and irrigation system application rates to automatically adjust irrigation schedules.”

A Weather Based Irrigation Controller that can suspend irrigation in the event of rain.

A Weather Based Irrigation Controller that can suspend irrigation in the event of rain.

The surveyors also recommended that 84 sprinklers be replaced with more efficient ones that will save about 149,600 gallons of water per year. The sisters will also need to repair 12 leaky sprinkler heads and adjust 39 nozzles contributing to overspray.

Ripping out the existing lawn on the sisters’ property would be too costly, according to Sister Mary Karlynn Werth, house administrator at Notre Dame Center. However, she does plan to use drought-tolerant plants on all new landscaping projects including the area behind the convent, adjacent to La Reina High School.

Overspray on the sisters' property in Thousand Oaks.

Overspray on the sisters’ property in Thousand Oaks.

“Now’s the time,” Sister Mary Karlynn said of the changes, “Saving water is a personal responsibility and we have to keep encouraging each other to do better.”

Inside Notre Dame Center, saving water has always been important to the sisters, who make sure that loads of laundry and dishes are full before they start.

“We have cut our water usage by nearly half since June of last year,” said Sister Mary Anncarla Costello, provincial superior for the Sisters of Notre Dame in California, “This represents our very conscientious awareness of the seriousness of the situation and our responsibility to contribute to a solution. Each of the sisters is doing her part and those who oversee the daily operations of our property are also working toward conservation.”

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If you sign up for the Nun Run 5K, you will be the proud recipient of a Nun Run t-shirt, a savory pancake breakfast, great company and a goodie bag with impressive coupons; but did you know you’ll also be doing something good for the planet?

Since the sisters are very concerned with caring for the earth, all participants will get a Virtual Event Bag instead of a regular goodie bag. Instead of filling a goodie bag with paper coupons and booklets-  which costs a few trees – everything can be retrieved on your preferred electronic device. Isn’t that so cool? If you use your iPhone or iPad to retrieve your coupons, just take your device to the store to get your items. No printing of the coupons – it’s all paperless! This is awesome!!!

Many sisters are making gigantic steps in reducing their carbon footprints on this wondrous earth of ours. They do this by using fewer plastic water bottles, bringing reusable shopping bags to the store, taking shorter showers, washing full loads, recycling and reusing as much as possible.  What are you doing to make a small difference?  Do you have a household plan and appropriate containers for sorting your trash?  Do you know where to take old batteries, electronics, medicine, light bulbs and other hazardous waste?

As committed folks who want the best future for our children and grandchildren, we need to continually educate ourselves about better ways to use the resources and energies of the earth.  Go to your city’s website to be informed about their environmental programs and events.  You will learn much to share with your family, friends and neighbors. And don’t forget to sign up for the Nun Run!

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Gratefully,

Sister Betty Mae Bienlein
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Coordinator for the California Province

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