COLUMBIA—“Going green” is not just some popular phrase for Marie Bloise. Along with other members of the environmental ministry at St. John Neumann Church, she believes it’s a way of life.
For the past three years, Bloise has educated her community about the importance of recycling, anti-pollution efforts, composting and other green topics.
St. John Neumann is one of several parishes and schools around the diocese that have made good environmental stewardship a priority in recent years.
Other faith communities have started recycling and composting programs, and students have become involved in environmental and gardening clubs, earned gardening certificates and started wildlife habitats on school grounds.
Bloise said she grew up with environmentally conscious parents. Her mother was an avid organic gardener. She became more interested in recycling and anti-pollution efforts as she grew up, and recently helped start a wildlife habitat at North Springs Elementary School off Clemson Road in Columbia.
The group at St. John Neumann holds meetings to discuss issues ranging from recycling to the safety of local rivers and streams. Of particular interest is the Gills Creek watershed, which runs through Richland County and is polluted.
Bloise regularly writes blurbs about environmental topics for the church bulletin, and the group organizes events to educate parishioners and students about the proper way to recycle.
“We’re trying to help people understand that the simplest thing you do or don’t do today is going to affect what happens to our kids tomorrow,” she said.
One lesson the ministry has been trying to teach is the importance of reusing items, not just recycling. Bloise compiled a list of Midlands charities that collects old household items and puts them to good use, such as animal shelters that need old towels and blankets, or Harvest Hope Food Bank, which reuses egg cartons and plastic bags.
To promote the concept, the ministry is hosting Recycle for Charity on Oct. 16 at St. John Neumann School. Local aid organizations will offer information and accept donated recyclable items.
“We’ve been taught to be a throwaway society for a long time, where you bought a VCR that only lasted a little while and then threw it away and bought another, ” Bloise said. “We have to learn to go back to values like I had when I grew up, where you use something until you can’t use it any more.”
She said more people are interested in recycling now because the difficult economy has forced them to make items last.
Debbie Hecker said she became involved with the ministry shortly after joining the parish three years ago. She sees the concept of environmental stewardship as an important part of her faith.
“Taking care of our world and being good stewards of the planet is important, and we haven’t been very good at it,” Hecker said. “Our pastor recently spoke about excesses during his homily, and I later thought about that while sitting in church. In our society, we get so involved in getting stuff in excess that we forget to quiet down. We need to quit trying to accumulate so much stuff and think about what’s important,” she said.