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Explore Embrace Embody Update

We have all been aware of media reports in recent weeks about the failure of REDcycle, the company charged with the collection of soft plastic from Coles and Woolworths, to find manufacturers to turn the plastic collected into products like benches and outdoor furniture as was promised.

The failure does not end there as REDcycle has stockpiled tonnes of thousands of the soft plastic in warehouses across three states.

The result is that now government agencies have ordered these mountains of rubbish to go to landfill. In NSW, the amount is 5,200 tonnes of soft plastic waste.

Landfill is the very destination that millions of Australians, by their actions were hoping to avoid. This leaves many people in the community disappointed, angry and deflated about their efforts to be more environmentally conscious.

Where does it leave our Josephite Laudato Si Action Plan?

You may remember that last year on the  anniversary of the death of Fr Julian Tenison Woods, we Sisters of St Joseph, both of the Sacred Heart and Lochinvar launched the document entitled Explore, Embrace, Embody: A Laudato Si’ Action Plan for the Josephite Community.  Its focus for this year is on our use of plastic.

This crisis has highlighted some facts about our national use of soft plastics.  According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

In 2018- 2019, 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste was generated but only 9% was sent for recycling.

Households were the largest contributor, generating 1.2 million tonnes of plastic waste that is 50 kilograms for every Australian.

Although this situation ultimately requires the involvement of governments and manufacturers, there is still much we, as individuals can do to lessen our dependence on plastics.

The editorial of the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 February suggests we complain to supermarkets and manufacturers (about the failure of REDcycle). Reuse where we can.

Avoid products needlessly packaged in plastic in the first place. A loose iceberg lettuce instead of a salad mix, potatoes in a paper bag, BYO sealable containers, cardboard boxes etc.

This statement echoes our Josephite Action Plan that has as one of its goal to live more simply. Under the heading Simplicity, there is this quote: Pope Francis emphasizes the “moral imperative of assessing the impact of our every action and personal decision on the world around us” (Pope Francis 2015, n208).

In the section Everyday Gestures, a recommended action is to affirm and encourage the everyday actions and choices of individuals and groups which promote the thoughtful use of resources and energy, the development of an attitude of “the ethic of enough’, and a ‘culture of care’.   We can extend this to our choices concerning our use of plastics.

Finally, I invite you to visit the website of the Central Josephites at go to the Laudato Si Action Plan and then to Resources.  You will find a great number of presentations relating to the Josephite Action Plan, Explore Embrace Embody that might interest you.

Margaret O’Sullivan appears in one entitled, Who we are: the Josephite Commitment to the Cry of Earth, the Cry of Those Who Are Poor. In another, The Woods Walk, Ellen Royan speaks of her love of trees and Father Woods’ appreciation of the wonders of creation.

Maureen Salmon rsj, Lochinvar representative on the Josephite Laudato Si Action Plan committee