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Faith groups collect toxic chemicals for safe disposal

Faith groups collect toxic chemicals for safe disposal

Church volunteers help collect household chemicals in Michigan.
More than 120 congregations representing nine faith communities helped collect 46 tons of hazardous household chemicals in Michigan's Upper Peninsula near Lake Superior in April.

Participants in the "Earth Keeper Clean Sweep" of 50 communities were United Methodist, Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jewish, Bahai, Zen Buddhist and Unitarian Universalist.

They joined with several environmental groups to collect herbicides, pesticides, car batteries, items containing mercury, antifreeze and old lead/oil-based paints and drain cleaners. The toxic items were transported to safe disposal sites.

The Upper Peninsula has only two sites for collecting household hazardous waste. "For some people that would mean driving 200 miles," said the Rev. Charlie West, project co-director and pastor of Marquette (Mich.) Grace United Methodist and Skandia (Mich.) United Methodist churches.

"It's exciting to see so many of the churches and faith communities working together to be good environmental stewards of our Upper Peninsula," West said.

In July 2004 spiritual leaders of the faith communities signed an "Earth Keeper" covenant, pledging to carry out the Clean Sweep and other activities to help the environment. Congregations received bulletin inserts with a scripture, a meditation and a description of the hazardous materials. These inserts can be viewed at (look for Clean Sweep materials).

Faith leaders also agreed to continue environmental education in their congregations.

"Life is a gift and creation is a gift — all gifts from our creator should be received with respect," said the Rev. J. Douglas Paterson, superintendent of the Marquette district in the Detroit Annual Conference.

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