The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Ohio Province has responded to Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform by creating the Dorothy Stang Initiative for Laudato Si’ Action. While in the process of gathering data from sisters, associates, staff, donors and others in our circle, we were reminded that all steps we take are important - both big and small. We therefore introduce Your Little Bit of Good, a short weekly one-pager that focuses on some aspect of the environment. It is an attempt to bring forward small things we can do.
Director of Justice, Peace and Care for Creation
Prayer of the Woods
I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights,
the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun,
and my fruits are refreshing draughts, quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam that holds your house,
the board of your table,
the bed on which you lie,
and the timber that builds your boat.
I am the handle of your hoe,
the door of your homestead,
the wood of your cradle,
and the shell of your coffin.
I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty.
Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: Harm me not.
(“While its most common title is ‘Prayer of the Woods’ it does not have a religious origin. It is translated from an older work, originally written in Portuguese, and first carved in wood in the gardens surrounding the beautiful Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon.”)
Source: Forestry and Land Scotland
Have you ever been responsible for a weekly publication and wondered, “what I will write about this week?” Then, has something kept presenting itself to you in various ways and through various sources? What if it’s something you don’t want to admit to yourself is a problem, and that you are part if it?
That’s been my week. And I still can’t say I want to cover this topic. It means personal work in my journey to care for the earth. It requires changes and putting my money where my mouth is. It is also a conversation most people avoid.
So, what is the topic? … Toilet paper. Seriously.
I have always let myself believe that paper products are made from trees grown for that sole purpose. It was a lovely and comfortable belief. It was also incorrect. Did you know that most toilet paper used in the United States is cut from old growth, virgin forest?
Some companies plant a tree for every tree cut. However, planting one for one tree isn’t a sustainable answer to the situation. New trees do not capture and sequester carbon at the same rate as the tree that is cut. And it takes years for that tree to reach a point that it will match the amount of carbon the cut tree absorbed.
So, what does this mean? It means we all should look into what alternatives we as individuals can live with. For some, paying more for bamboo toilet paper, may be an option. For others, it is not. To save us all from an uncomfortable end to this article, I encourage you to research sustainable alternatives to toilet paper. But, be aware, many companies attempt to “green wash” their products to look more eco-friendly. And whatever you do, avoid those flushable wipes. They might break down into smaller bits, but they do not biodegrade.
For a short article and some brand names that use virgin forest, click here.
Here are some ecofriendly alternatives to explore.
You could go European and get a bidet.
If you are still with me, you could try one of these portable options.
You can Google “Toilet Unpaper” if you are brave.
Paper towels are not much better for this than toilet paper. There are alternative to these too. I hesitate to plug a product, but Grove Collaborative seems to be a reliably eco-friendly source for products. You can also look into reusable “paper” towels.