In the encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis says: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. (21) These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. (22)”

Ascension school and parish cares for Creation by being more mindful of reducing waste substantially. We want to use less (reduce our consumption), recycle cleanly and mindfully, compost all food scraps, and reuse materials.

On April 6, Ascension School successfully launched a Zero Waste program in the lunchroom. 

We helped our students and teachers to substantially reduce waste by initiating the program, aiming for zero. We want major improvement to help the planet (https://sevengenerationsahead.org/zero-waste/zero-waste-overview). We received support from Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) through some grant money, and we are most grateful. Many people helped initiate this effective program — SGA, our HOME (Honoring Our Mother Earth) team, and school staff — to significantly reduce waste. We are one of many schools using the 4-bin sorting process: pour out liquids, recycle only the recyclables, compost all food and food-soiled paper (no plastic), and put the rest in the landfill bin (“When in doubt, throw it out”). 

At the recent Jan. 12, Ascension school waste audit, by weight, 83% was landfill (garbage/trash). At the end of our April 6 Zero Waste kickoff day, we reduced landfill waste substantially to only 15%! Our composting comprised 51%! 

An amazing reduction! The kids are so proud. We have so much to be proud of at Ascension. Let environmental learning be a vehicle subject for math, science, religion, and social justice issues. We can also brainstorm ways to substantially reduce waste in your home and at parish events, e.g. making sure the products at your parish event are recyclable and compostable or bring re-usables from home. We can use enhanced recycling, adding in compost and being extra mindful to reduce waste and packaging. 

To sign up for Oak Park’s commercial composting for $14 a month, visit http://www.oak-park.us/village-services/refuse-recycling/compostable-program. 

Ascension’s Zero Waste program is part of the OP-RF PlantItGreen waste reduction effort, geared by Seven Generations Ahead. Our wonderful SGA coordinator is Susan Casey, who is wonderful, wise, professional, efficient and a delight to work with. susan@sevengenerationsahead.org. 

Gina Orlando is coordinator of Ascension’s HOME (Honoring Our Mother Earth) green team.

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