We’re all familiar with His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa’s commitment to the environment, and his work to save the Earth from the negative effects of human habitation, industry, and the like. We at KTD are committed to “Greening” our Monastery and Retreat Center to gradually make our temple and residence more energy efficient and sustainable.
This year’s KTD Earth Day Message is written by Robyn Glenney, a Karmapa Corps Volunteer who is in charge of Green Monastery projects at KTD. Read it, be inspired by it, and then resolve to take action on just one thing – even if it’s turning off your computer at night to prevent the draining of “Vampire Energy’ waste – today, tomorrow, and every day. May all beings benefit, and may the Earth and its inhabitants be made safe, whole, and liberated from suffering!
Today is Earth Day, a good day to renew our commitment to being a “Green Monastery”. Like all special days, Earth Day reminds us of something we can think about every day, namely that we are totally interdependent with the rest of the world. As such, each of us has the power to prevent harm to sentient beings, simply by being mindful of our habits and breaking some of ingrained consumption patterns. Changing habits takes time, but it is worth the effort.
The Earth Day Network – which functions all year – promotes individual change with a list of suggested commitments to try this year: Acts of Green. For example, I’d recommend making the “Vampire Energy” pledge; it shows how unintentionally we can waste resources but how easy it is to change that! The idea of “Acts of Green” is the same as taking a vow, but you can also see more than a billion people sharing your intentions.
Because of the importance of small acts, His Holiness had “108 Things You Can Do to Help The Environment” written at his first Conference on Environmental Protection.
The list relates to individuals and monasteries across the world, so I just drew out some examples that are especially relevant to us as Americans. I added a bit in italics for further explanation:
Live simply. Practice the Buddha’s vinaya vows and live as simply as possible, without unnecessary possessions.
Use less paper. A lot of trees are cut down simply to produce paper. Even a small choice such as printing on both sides of the paper makes a big difference.
[Also, papers printed on only one side are perfect for notes or scrap paper. Try reusing before recycling.]
Save energy by using power strips (with several electrical outlets) to turn off multiple power-draining appliances with one convenient, easy-to-use switch. This helps because most appliances and power bricks use power even when not in use!
Shut down your computer at night. It takes a lot more energy to keep your computer running than to turn it on.
[Think: keeping a computer on requires energy that adds to climate change. Turning it on in the morning just requires planning an extra minute, which adds to patience]
Unplug chargers and other electronic devices when not in use. A charger continues to use energy even when it is not connected to an electronic device.
[Vampire energy draining!]
Do not use plastic, paper, or Styrofoam cups or plates. They take hundreds of years to degrade.
[In fact, styrofoam and plastics eventually break down, but they never recirculate into natural systems (aka biodegrade). Organic matter breaks down because it is food for something; this is not the case with plastics. They break down into their components--chemicals and petroleum--but these take up space in our landfills without being useful to any known beings.]
You can view and download the full list here.
Obviously short of living in a cave, we would have trouble completely eliminating plastics or fossil fuel use. That does not make reduced use any less valuable.
If you have read this far, I hope it was useful, and check out those websites any day of the year. Thanks.