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The True Cost of the Paper We Use

Posted on June 21, 2023, by Loretto Community

The Loretto Community has taken up Pope Francis’s call. In 2018 he said, “Get rid of useless baggage,” referring to empty chatter and harmful consumerism. Laudato Si’ calls on us to use less energy and fewer raw materials. In response, the Loretto Community Forum has asked that we align with Laudato Si’ values. Loretto Communications stopped printing our internal monthly mailing and Interchange publication — they are now available online. We can print them on our own computers if we wish and the Loretto Motherhouse prints some copies for people without computers. But, essentially, the Community has taken a step.

Yes, we miss printed copies. It’s sometimes a chore to find all the documents we might need online. But, each of us can take steps toward eco-salvation. Some small steps include:

  • Don’t ask for a shopping receipt.
  • Carry your own shopping bags.
  • Request paperless billing online and print only when necessary.

Paper production uses and produces harmful chemicals, wastes a lot of water and causes deforestation and pollution. No matter how committed we are to recycling, chemicals from paper contaminate the ground and air, and paper can generally be recycled no more than five times. And of course, paper uses trees. Some paper companies plant fields of trees, acre upon acre, for paper manufacture, but it’s more sustainable to plant trees that will stand for seven generations.

Want to take a bigger step? 

We can plant trees ourselves and give to trusted tree-planting organizations. Try getting ideas for conservation from the Loretto Carbon Reduction FundLoretto Earth Network or the Loretto Motherhouse Farm. Wangari Maathai, African environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, says, “When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope. We also secure the future for our children.”

The Loretto Motherhouse is planting new trees and managing the woods we have so that trees will thrive beyond the time we can imagine, with the help of our recent conservation easement and a Native Tree and Plant Fund. Our communications team has been able to cut paper use. What are ways you are contributing to a more sustainable future? Is there a bigger next step you’d like to take?

Photo credit: Trees on the Loretto Motherhouse grounds. Photos by Susan Classen CoL and Christina Manweller. 


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