From possession and consuming to temperance and sharing. The Catholic Times brings to the readers' attention the work needed to maintain a healthy environment. The article was triggered by the disturbance in the recycling of trash in Korea.
A few days after the collection of trash stopped society began to look at the containers for the separation of the trash differently. The trash disturbance began on April 1, when recycling collectors in Seoul and the metropolitan area refused to collect recyclable plastic bottles and waste vinyl. The primary cause of the disturbance was China's discontinuance last July of importing over half of the world's trash such as plastic, vinyl, fiber, metal because of their own environmental pollution.
In Korea, too, the export of recyclable trash has been blocked, the profits of collecting companies dropped sharply, and the recycling collection companies refused collection of recyclable trash free of charge. Only a few days after the vendors stopped collecting we had the piling up of trash.
There was always a problem because recycled trash and garbage was not all recycled. Among the recycled trash and garbage in Korea, only 59% was recycled or composted, 16% went to landfills. The firm belief that recycling through proper separation and distribution contributes to a better planet is a 'half-truth'.
Already, environmental groups and civil society have long sought to reduce waste. Examples are the "zero-waste" movement, which minimizes the amount of waste generated in daily life and recycles only what is necessary. In 1988 the Catholic Lay Council recommended that all the parishes become involved in the 'anabada' movement: A (saving), Na (sharing) Ba (exchanging), Da (reusing).
The Ministry of Environment's comprehensive measures is encouraging. The measures include refraining from excessive packaging, use of disposable cups at coffee shops and fast food stores, prohibition of free plastic bags at convenience stores and bakery shops, and use of umbrella plastic covers at public institutions.
The Church has for some years pushed the need to enjoy living uncomfortably.'Enjoying a certain amount of discomfort' movement reflects the appearance of a society of excessive consumption and pursues a simple and frugal life that specifically lives on the words of Jesus that "the poor are happy." The key to 'enjoying discomfort' is seeing the need and the joy that comes with the simple life.
"Christian spirituality purposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption." (Laudation Si #222).
We need to make clear and conscious efforts to reduce waste. "Rather than looking for the next place to dump waste, advanced countries should bear the responsibility of cutting down on waste with sustainable practices." Sustainable living is the practice of reducing demand on natural resources by making sure that we try to replace what is used to the best of our ability. The article ends with a quote from a member of the social pastoral committee of the Seoul Diocese: "It is no longer a choice but a duty to live in a way that imposes a minimum burden on the natural ecosystem of God, the creature of God, and begin to enjoy a simpler life."