Recycling ‘the norm’ for Sisters of Providence
In 1991, the Sisters of Providence teamed up with several other organizations, starting a coalition that was ahead of the curve at the time.
Nearly 25 years later, the recycling efforts of the Sisters of Providence remain a top priority of fulfilling their commitment of sustainable living at their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind.
Twenty-three years ago, the sisters joined forces with Indiana State University (ISU), Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Ivy Tech Community College to form the Coalition for Institutional Recycling.
A total of 15 organizations joined the coalition throughout the years, and the sisters have remained.
ISU is the hub of the organization. Its recycling facility is located at 447 N. 9th St., Terre Haute.
“It is a drive-through facility,” Manager Paul Reed said. “It is open to anyone who wants to bring stuff to us.”
The sisters recycle anything they can, from plastic to aluminum cans, glass and paper.
The materials are picked up by facilities management close to 10 times per day, during the morning hours. Locations include Providence Hall and the dock at Owens Hall. Facilities also pick up recycling from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
From there, they are taken to a recycle barn, packaged, and taken to other locations, including the recycle center at ISU. Machines press the recyclables together for packaging purposes.
The sisters also take recyclable materials to Midwest Fiber, Goodwill and Sugar Creek Scrap.
“It was all about getting in the right mind frame,” Sister Rose Ann Eaton, administrative assistant said.
Sister Rose Ann has served in facilities management since 2002. She said the sisters encourage all their staff members to recycle at all collection points on the grounds.
“We want it to be more than just the sisters,” she said. “I would say that is gradually happening.”
In 2013, the sisters collected the following recyclables (measured in pounds):
• Cardboard, 43,960 pounds,
• Mixed paper, 32,258 pounds,
• Loose news, 21,515 pounds,
• Plastic, 6,128 pounds,
• Plastic bags, 1,676 pounds, and
• Glass, 4,558 pounds.
In addition, the sisters also collected used motor oil, fluorescent bulbs and batteries.
In 2011, the sisters established their Land Ethic, making a stronger commitment to conserving natural resources. The
Land Ethic was revised twice in 2012 by a committee.
“The Land Ethic has been a work in progress for a very long time,” Sister Rose Ann said.
Through the Land Ethic, the sisters strive to:
• Conserve natural resources and preserve species unique to an area,
• Make every effort to use non-toxic materials that will not harm the community in the present or future,
• Promote conservation and reduction of consumption by recycling and purchasing recycled materials,
• Practice conservation and restoration of land through food production, management of forests and wild spaces, and healing and re-habitation of diminished areas,
• Be advocates for ethical principles in resource use at local, state, national and global levels,
• Explore options and possibilities while seeking both environmental and financial sustainability,
• Research options such as land trusts, easements, deed restrictions and the transfer or selling of development rights, for the protection of resources while investigating the ramifications, and
• Provide educational opportunities and share lived experiences, both individually and communally.
About the Sisters of Providence
The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.