Eliminating single-use plastics

The Story of Plastic

At a recent "house meeting" of the sisters who live at the monastery (about 60 sisters live at the monastery on East Lake Road, the others live in small groups in the city of Erie and one in Oil City), we renewed our commitment to greatly reduce and eventually eliminate some single use plastic and paper products.

Sister Annette Marshall, representing the Care for the Earth Committee, began by showing a short, animated video, "The Story of Plastic," from The Story of Stuff Project. Following the video, the sisters entered into conversation about why and how we can improve how we care for the earth by eliminating single-use plastic and paper. Sister Judith Trambley reminded us that our corporate commitment guides us: "As Benedictine Sisters of Erie we commit ourselves to be a healing presence and prophetic witness for peace and justice by actively addressing the climate crisis and the rights of women and children."

In 2020 we also set, as one of our directions for the next five years, to "engage with renewed urgency to reverse climate change and foster care for the earth and all creatures, through behavior change and through our actions."

You can view the five-minute video here. "We have a problem with Stuff: we have too much of it, too much of it is toxic, and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be," says the About page on The Story of Stuff website. If Benedict were writing his Rule today, he could easily have included that same text. The Rule of Benedict, which monastics around the world have been following for 1,500 years, instructs that the tools and goods of the monastery are to be shared by all, and Benedict strongly discourages private ownership, stressing that distribution is made according to need. "Whoever needs less should thank God and not be distressed, but whoever needs more should feel humble because of their weakness, not self-important because of the kindness shown," Benedict writes.

Benedict also reminds his followers that "our way of acting should be different from the world's way with the love of Christ coming before all else." Even stuff.