The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have long understood the importance of caring for Earth through ongoing environmental and ecological sustainability initiatives and education. While a year-round endeavor, this mission is especially highlighted in April and upon the celebration of Earth Day. During this year’s celebration, being thoughtful in our actions and investing in our planet were encouraged.

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have made numerous efforts to be more environmentally conscious in recent years, such as transitioning to electric vehicles, encouraging recycling around campus, and finding ways to reduce the use of plastics. During a special Earth Day prayer service at St. Vincent Church, the Congregation and guests shared ideas on what other choices can be made to protect the environment. 

Ways to shop sustainably:

  • Buy locally grown food, choose unprocessed foods and buy in bulk. Research storage techniques to eliminate food waste and learn how to compost. Consuming less meat will also help!
  • Consider the packaging of the items you intend to buy. Choose cardboard packaging over plastic or Styrofoam, forgo the plastic produce bags, and use shampoo bars instead of bottled. Research what types of plastics can be recycled in your area. 
  • Instead of bottled water, try tap water. Tests show no significant difference between bottled water and most tap water. Also, carry a refillable water bottle with you. 
  • Purchase clothing made from natural or recycled plastic-based fibers such as nylon and polyester. Look for certification seals on apparel, products and services that indicate they are sustainably produced. Examples include Forest Stewardship Council, Non-GMO Project, Green Seal, Energy Star, Green America and SCS Certified. 

While discussion and education are essential, action around Earth Day is also necessary. Some of the Sisters, Nazareth employees and community volunteers spent the morning of April 22 cleaning up litter from the campus grounds. 

“To disregard our fellow neighbors and our plants and animals is not the right thing to do, and we know that in our bodies and our minds and our hearts,” said Sister Kelly O’Mahony as she led a prayer before the cleanup. “We thank God that we have come here to this sacred land of Nazareth to do our part, to clean up our little part of Earth, and to encourage other people to do that too.”

Community and student involvement were also important this year. Ahead of Earth Day, schoolchildren visited the Nazareth campus for hands-on learning about biodiversity and water quality and helped rid the grounds of invasive plant species. Sisters at Caritas Apartments in Pittsburgh enjoyed a day of planting to support pollinators. In India, students with Nazareth Academy Mokama held their own special Earth Day celebrations with a procession and presentations about ways to protect the planet. 

These activities are just a few ways the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth demonstrate their ongoing commitment to care for Earth. You, too, can invest in our planet by keeping your communities clean and adopting environmentally-friendly practices.