Earth Day: We're taking action!
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day--and its 2010 theme, "Take action!"--Church World Service continues its long tradition of taking action in partnership around the world, assisting communities in managing their environmental resources to better provide for their families now and into the future.
A man tends seedlings as part of a massive CWS-supported reforestation project in post-war Algeria in 1965. Photo: CWS
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day—and its 2010 theme, “Take action!”—Church World Service continues its long tradition of taking action in partnership around the world, assisting communities in managing their environmental resources to better provide for their families now and into the future.
Looking back to the mid-1960s, before the first Earth Day, in the aftermath of the Algerian War of Independence several thousand local workers terraced hillsides and planted upwards of 27,000,000 olive, fruit and other trees--with support from Church World Service. Their efforts yielded not only food, but also curbed erosion and helped to manage surface water. And, many of those who were trained in the program became key personnel in the national forestry.
Two women work together to tend a field of chilis, tomatoes, okra, cotton and more. They are participants in the CWS-supported Mirpurkhas Food Security project in southeast Pakistan. The project includes community gardens, irrigation ponds, seed banks and training in resources management.
Photo: Matt Hackworth/CWS
Shift forward--today in Honduras, some 1,410 families in the Rio Chiquila micro-basin are participating in a CWS-supported project to grow a variety of vegetables in their gardens, while protecting water, soil and forest resources. With training and technical assistance, the farm families are growing food sustainably and promoting forest regeneration. They are also learning to work with local municipalities to establish a culture of valuing and protecting the environment and to monitor and respond to the effects of climate change.
With CWS support in southeast Pakistan, 4,500 families are growing more food by using water conserved in irrigation ponds. They are also cutting down on chemical fertilizers by learning how to use compost.
In the Kitui diocese, Mwingi district, Kenya, some 12,500 people are benefitting from the construction of six sand dams and six shallow wells that are providing water for both families and livestock. Communities have established vegetable gardens and fruit tree nurseries near each sand dam. Through the CWS-supported program, they are also learning about health, hygiene and environmental conservation issues.
Church World Service puts environmental concern into action around the globe every day of the year. And your support—whether through individual or congregational giving, CROP Hunger Walks, the Blankets+ Program, or alternative giving—makes that work possible.
A challenge to each of us
By taking a closer look at our own lives and actions, we may find ways to live more responsibly for the sake of ourselves, our local and global neighbors, and our planet. Recognizing that each of us has different circumstances and needs, here is a starter list of things to consider. Many of them you may already be doing—bravo! Otherways we can make a difference may be easy and fun--simple, but not simplistic. Use your imagination.
Have you installed energy-efficient light bulbs—and do you make it a habit to turn off lights when not in use? (Save your receipt and return any that burn out prematurely.) Can you walk, bike, carpool or use mass transit for more of your trips? If you need to have a car, consider a more fuel efficient model next time around. And, when you need to replace an appliance, consider the energy efficiency of your purchase.
Do you wear low maintenance and versatile clothing and shoes? Can you add more layers in cooler weather and wear less in warmer weather to save on heating and cooling?
Can you take shorter showers? Use less water by turning the water pressure down or installing a low-flow shower head? Bathe or wash your hair less frequently? Consider a low-flow toilet and/or flushing less frequently at home? If you have a yard, can you transition to drought resistant plants?
Food, soil, air
Can you avoid using chemicals that will run off into gutters, rivers or streams? Can you use non-toxic household cleaning supplies and paint that is non-toxic or low in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs? Do you carry reusable bags for shopping? Can you eat more locally-grown food—perhaps by growing more food yourself or in a community garden, or from in-season farmers markets, roadside stands or a community supported agriculture (CSA) group? This can save the fuel of transportation and helps support your local economy--and fresher food is often tastier and healthier. Might you eat lower on the food chain—more fruits, vegetables, grains, peas and beans?
These are just some the possibilities. Try brainstorming with your family, friends, congregation, group or co-workers about ways you can make a difference.
Another key way to make a difference is by learning more and becoming an advocate. Check out our worship resource and other resources related to the environment and climate change. Be sure to also check your denomination’s website and your public library for resources on aspects that interest you. To get connected and raise your voice with others, sign up for our Speak Out alerts.
If each of us takes action--if we recognize that we are in this together and if each of us makes even a few changes--the benefit of our actions begins to multiply, changing how we and those around us think about and treat our precious planet.