A global problem
While creation care is one of the core tenets of Christian witness, there is mounting evidence that we, as humans, are failing badly in the responsibility of stewarding our global home. Climates are changing, storms are happening more frequently with more intensity, systems that were once reliable for livelihoods are now becoming unpredictable, and the amount of accumulated waste continues to increase:
- Every year, an estimated 11.2 billion tons of solid waste is collected worldwide, and the decay of the organic proportion of solid waste is contributing about 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% — has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment.
- Around the world, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year and generally thrown away after only one use.
Though these statistics are staggering, there is so much we can do individually and collectively to prevent a wasting of the environment. World Relief is committed to working toward environmental stewardship and climate-sensitive policies both internally and throughout our programs around the world.
A Collective Commitment
In October 2020, we began a partnership project called Environment Plus (EN+) with Tearfund UK and Arris Desrosiers, a Haitian waste management company, to provide sustainable solid waste management services in Carrefour, a metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince.
“When we were traveling out to our programs, we would see densely populated areas right outside the city that had become like dumpsites,” recalled Athanase Ndayisaba, World Relief Haiti’s Country Director. “All kinds of domestic waste from homes in the city was just being dumped outside in these communities. It was filthy and it creates huge issues for the general health of the population.
“Children in this area were playing in trash, and waste creates disease — this concerned us.”
Something needed to be done, so World Relief engaged with partners like Arris Desrosiers, who not only seeks to manage waste but uses recyclable waste to make school backpacks and fertilizer that can be sold to farmers in the area, to design the project.”
Together, we are raising awareness about the importance of reducing waste dumped into oceans, improving environmental conditions for those living in poverty and creating income-generating activities for local Haitians.
A key component of this initiative is the community mobilization of local churches and pastors. We are developing a biblically-based training and curriculum that we will use to train church leaders and volunteers of the value and importance of creation care. These leaders are essential in spreading the word about best waste management practices and the importance of creation care in their communities while supporting the waste collection process.
Currently, we have 30 local churches involved, and they are excited to help. “Church leaders recently spent a whole day collecting trash,” Athanase said. While church and community leaders are essential to mobilize their communities, youth are also integral in continuing this project into the future.
A Future for our Youth
By training young people in Carrefour about waste management and how to collect and separate trash, we can ensure these practices will be carried on long after the project ends. This project also brings income earning potential for young people by employing them in the recycling process.
“We want to see the waste in this area cleaned up,” Athanase says. “We want to teach the general population how to handle and separate domestic waste for recycling, creating a network of clean-up and conservation in the area.”
As a result of EN+, we anticipate that 15,000 individuals in Carrefour will have access to solid waste management services and an additional 5,000 individuals will be connected to interventions to help limit waste. Ultimately, the project will reduce waste dumped in oceans by 182.7 tons per month, 148.3 tons of which will be recycled.
While immediate and specific actions are necessary, we recognize that understanding the greater purpose behind waste management and our call to care for creation leads to meaningful solutions and lasting change.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1
Dana North serves as the Marketing Director at World Relief. With a background in graphic design and advertising and experiences in community development and transformation, Dana seeks to use the power of words and action to help create a better world. Dana is especially passionate about seeking justice for women and girls around the world.