Going Green – with The Salvation Army 20/08/2012
Green may be the new color of The Salvation Army – and no, not because of Christmas or because of financial donations – but because The Salvation Army all across the world is firmly committed to caring for our environment.
The Martin County Corps of The Salvation Army recently hosted a day of discussion about “Cultivating Justice Through Environmental Care,” at its new facility located at 821 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in East Stuart. “We feel it was appropriate to host this discussion at our new building,” commented Lt. Andrea Hoover. “We worked very hard to be as green as possible while planning,” she said. “We planned in advance to recycle everything possible in our office, church and transitional housing. Our playground at Compassion House is made of 100% recycled materials. Our outdoor benches are made of 100% recycled materials as well and we are working on a plan to develop a community garden,” she explained.
During the Environmental Care program, which was presented by two managers from The Salvation Army’s Florida Division Mission Department in Tampa, local Salvation Army staff and church members learned more about the National Initiative. The department’s position statement on the environmental initiative states that “The Salvation Army is an organization founded on the power of the Holy Spirit, Faith in God and using that faith to establish creative ways to meet social need in the evolving world. Brittany Lotito, Divisional Liaison for Emerging Missions, added “As the Salvation Army believes that God created the Earth, all living things, we also believe that it is our duty to take care of his creation (Earth)”.
Ms. Lotito and co-presenter Jillian Penhale, shared that The Salvation Army is striving to help the victims of today’s devastating environmental issues, such as air and water pollution, land and habitat destruction, increased global temperatures and unnatural changes in biodiversity. “Many times, it is the poorest of the poor who are left to deal with these nearly-insurmountable problems,” Ms. Lotito explained. “Salvationists, both young and old, are truly concerned about the devastating effect the change in the earth’s climate is having on the poorest of the poor.”
One specific example she sited is in rural China, where for years the population relied on wood for its energy – and when the trees were gone, then came the mudslides and the pollution of their water, filled with human and animal waste.“When people get sick (from this element), they cannot work. And when they cannot work, they become impoverished, and poverty leaves them more vulnerable to other social issues.” She explained that The Salvation Army has stepped in to help these residents restore their environment, one tree at a time – and is helping them build and convert to methane.
Another issue that The Salvation Army is focused on is mountain-top removal in the Appalachian Mountains. “The process for this is to clear forests, then clear the mountain, while extracting coal and as many resources as possible. This causes many problems for those who live in the area, including major toxic pollution, which in turn has caused a disproportionate amount of cancer for the residents. The process also pollutes the water with mercury, which in turn cases problems for those who drink the mountain water and is seriously depleting the fish supply,” explained Ms. Lotito.
After discussion about how serious these types of problems are world-wide, focus shifted to what each person can do in their own community. Ms. Lotito urges everyone to calculate their eco-footprint. “You need learn how what you use affects the environment,” she said. The website that assists in this calculation is www.myfootprint.org.
In everyday lives, good stewards of the environment can:
Lt. Hoover of the Martin County Corps explained that another part of the National Initiative is to promote fair trade and the fair trade market. “We believe that we must understand how our consumerism affects the very poor and marginalized all over the world,” she said. For example, "our Division promotes and utilizes Fair Trade Coffee as much as possible, which is made at a small rural family farm that uses organic methods and pays a fair wage,” she explained.
“This message of saving and taking care of our Earth and its poorest are vital components to The Salvation Army’s mission world-wide,” Lt. Hoover stated. “Together, we can make a difference one person, or one tree, at a time. Go green!”
For more information on The Salvation Army of Martin County, please call 772-288-1471 or visit our website at www.salvationarmystyart.org. For more information on The Mission and Environmental Initiative, please call Brittany Lotito in the Florida Division Mission Department at 813-383-5625.
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