Challenging an interfaith stake in the world’s environmental future: Million pounds e-waste, Million pills goal of EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge
(Chicago, Illinois) – Faith leaders across eight Great Lakes states are urging their members to participate in an Earth Day 2008 challenge to collect one million pounds of electronics and more than one million pills because trust is needed between all people to stop an environmental crisis.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge has moved into high gear more than 100 projects involving hundreds of communities are collecting pharmaceuticals, electronics and household poisons.
An EPA grant to the non-profit interfaith Earth Healing Initiative (EHI) is mobilizing religious communities in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
A Lutheran Bishop who has participated in interfaith Earth Day recycling projects for three years in a row encourages people of all faiths to get involved and help protect the environment.
We are in an environmental crisis in many ways, said Lutheran Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes of the Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The Great Lakes watershed is really kind of a mother to all of us here in the populated areas of the upper Midwest.
Interfaith environment projects like the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge will help ensure a better future for all humans, Skrenes said, adding sometimes its relationships and trusting each other that really count in environmental work.
The culture, the society and the environment are now connecting in some fantastic new ways to build relationships between people, Skrenes said. We are building trust along and across denominational lines, in the Christian communities and into the wider faith communities of the whole country.
The EHI is a coalition and partnership of churches, synagogues and other faith traditions joining together and sharing their projects and resources to heal, protect and defend the environment, said founder Rev. Jon Magnuson of Marquette, Michigan.
Bishop Skrenes hopes everyone across the Great Lakes Basin will participate in their local project.
Saying its not your grandfathers environment movement anymore, Skrenes said that environmental work is now more mainstream and no longer an obscure thing for a certain group of people unlike 40 years ago when he was in high school and I dare say some of my relatives said it was kind of a hippie movement.
The church is called to bring people together to be part of the healing, Skrenes said.
This interfaith earth healing effort is really a great gift that has been given to all of us, Skrenes said. It is our calling and our responsibility to assist in renewal and rebuilding – its Gods work and its the work of Gods people.
Examples of established interfaith organizations that are assisting the EHI include the University of Minnesota Lutheran Campus Ministry, the Arrowhead Interfaith Council in Duluth, the Marquette University Ministry outlets in Milwaukee, several Catholic interfaith groups and the office of Ecumenical Formation and Inter-Religious Relations at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
EPA grants to some of the organizers help fund projects aimed at recycling computers, cell phones and other electronics commonly known as “e-waste plus collecting out-of-date and unwanted pharmaceuticals for proper disposal in high tech incinerators.
To comply with federal drug laws, police officers and pharmacists are accepting the medications. While some of the projects have been running all month or during Earth Week, the bulk of the events will be held either this Saturday, April 19 or next Saturday, April 26. Collections, rules, times and dates vary from city to city.
The interfaith EHI is one of numerous environment and Native American projects founded by the non-profit Cedar Tree Institute in Marquette, Michigan including the Earth Keepers, known for removing more than 370 tons of e-Waste, pharmaceuticals and household hazardous waste (HHW) during three Earth Day clean sweeps across the Upper Peninsula.
The northern Michigan Earth Keepers have alliances with ten faith traditions across the Upper Peninsula, and the EHI is coordinating the same relationships with religious communities across the Great Lakes and beyond.
Bishop Skrenes is among the faith leaders who have signed the northern Michigan Earth Keeper Covenant pledging to actively participate in environment projects, build bridges with others faiths, and reach out to Native American communities.
Bishop Skrenes said the interfaith clean sweep is an example for other communities in the world because it shows like-minded people with good hearts can make a real impact in their communities when tackling environmental problem that seem daunting or too big for the average person to really make a difference.
The ongoing Earth Keeper project involves the congregations of over 150 churches and temples representing ten faith communities: Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Bahá’í, Jewish, Zen Buddhist and the Religious Society of Friends commonly known as the Quakers.
The Upper Peninsula Earth Keepers set up collection sites across a 400-mile area of northern Michigan on Earth Day 2005-2007. About 15,000 residents turned in over 320 tons of e-Waste, 45 tons of HHW including car batteries, oil-based paint, pesticides, liquid mercury, and other common poisons and over one ton of pharmaceuticals including $500,000 in narcotics.
People of many spiritual dimensions resonate to this work, Skrenes said. This is a good effort for all of us to be involved with.
This is about the environment, this is about cleaning up and making things new again and restoring things to the ways they once were and can be, Skrenes said.
People who are spiritual reflect upon and think about creation, Skrenes said. We think about the lakes and the streams and the forest and all of the rest that God has produced.
The 2008 EPA challenge collection sites in large cities and surrounding areas like Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland.
Illinois: Alton, Beecher, Bellwood, Bolingbrook, Carol Stream, Channahon, Chicago, Elk Grove Village, Elmhurst, Glenview, Joliet, Lockport, Lombard, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Romeoville, Shorewood, Villa Park, West Chicago, Wheaton, Woodstock
Indiana: Columbia City, Hammond, Knox, LaPorte, Fort Wayne, Rushville, Valparaiso
Michigan: Bay City (two events), Benton Harbor, Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn Heights, East Lansing, Farmington Hills, Goodells, Grand Rapids (two events) Harbor Springs, Lansing, Midland, Monroe, Royal Oaks, Sault Ste. Marie, Southfield, Traverse City
Minnesota: Blaine, Brooklyn Park, Duluth, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Madison, Maple Grove, New Ulm, Saint Cloud, Shakopee, St. Louis Park, St. Paul
New York: Brockport, Buffalo, Fredonia, Rochester (two events), Syracuse (two events).
Ohio: Cleveland, Grove City, Kent, Perrysburg, Sandusky, Springfield, Toledo, Warren
Pennsylvania: Erie, Lancaster
Wisconsin: Appleton, Brillion, Chilton, Crandon, Green Bay, Keshena (Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and College of Menominee Nation), Manitowoc, Milwaukee (two events), New Holstein, Oshkosh, Plover (two events), Racine, Superior, Waupaca.
The EHI works in collaboration with the EPA and other government and non-government organizations, said Magnuson, executive director of the Cedar Tree Institute
The EHI is organizing faith community volunteers and participants plus providing free media assistance to the Earth Day projects including press releases, press contacts, internet videos, podcasts and postings.
For more information on the EHI project call 906-401-0109.
Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge:
Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge event list:
EPA Press Release on challenge:
Earth Healing Initiative:
University of Minnesota Lutheran Campus Ministry
P.O. Box 3649
UM LCM Website:
Pastor Doug Paulson page: Anchored in Christ’s love, Lutheran Campus Ministry is an open, welcoming and caring Community:
Arrowhead Interfaith Council (AIC)
102 W. 2nd Street
Arrowhead Interfaith Council (AIC) website
AIC members page:
Erik Nordgren, AIC President
AIC Interfaith Committee
“The Interfaith Committee plans events which foster interfaith dialogue and learning”
AIC Interfaith Committee Chair
Rev. Brad Brown
Lutheran Campus Pastor Marquette University
414-288-3691 (Pastor Brown vm)
Pastor Brad Brown’s blog:
Marquette University Lutheran Campus Ministry website:
Marquette University Ministry
1442 W. Wisconsin Ave.
P.O. Box 1881
Campus faith list:
Select challenge cities:
IEPA Spring HHW collections:
Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District:
Milwaukee Journal articles:
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin:
College of Menominee Nation
Greater Cleveland, Ohio area:
Western Lake Superior Sanitary District:
Fort Wayne, Indiana:
Allen County TRIAD:
Volunteer Center @ RSVP: