Monday, July 20, 2015

Living Green in the Southwest: The Columban Fathers Teach Us a Thing or Two about Conserving Water

Father Bob Mosher empties dish water into a bucket stored under the sink.
Want to learn about conserving water? Listen to the Columban Fathers. 

The Missionary Society of St. Columban operates in countries around the world. They have done outreach along the U.S.-Mexico border since 1996. At that time, Father Bill Morton became interested in border issues during a visit to Brownsville and opened the new center on Magoffin in 2011 with the blessing of Bishop Ochoa. The Center is under the direction of Fr. Bob Mosher and does work in El Paso and Juarez.

The Society focuses on cross cultural issues, ecology, social justice, the dignity of women, immigration and "radical" options for the poor. The El Paso center hosts events and meetings with these concerns in mind. They conduct the Border Awareness Experience which reveals to student and parish groups of 24 or less what life along the border is all about especially regarding migrants and refugees. 

It is their work in ecology that drew my attention to how they walk their talk especially regarding water. The Missionary Society has a policy statement about water at their web site and it is worth reading. 

So here are some tips for living greener in the Southwest:

Father Mosher empties sink water onto some thirsty plants.
Father Mosher demonstrated for me what they do with their dish and rinse water. It goes in a bucket and the water is then used to water shrubs and trees. (I hear that Father Morton uses the old dish water to flush toilets as well.)

But it doesn't just stop there. There are signs posted in the kitchen and bathroom that teach water conservation to guests:

Kitchen sign. Click on image to enlarge.
Toothbrushing sign. Click on image to enlarge.

Shower sign. Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.
We all know that too much water goes down the drain as we await for the shower water to get warm. At the Columban Center, three gallon milk jugs with their tops cut off are used to collect water as it warms up. (You can also put a bucket under the diverter spigot if you have a combo bath tub and shower.)

So, want to conserve water? The Columban Fathers can tell you how to do it.

Oh - one last thing - want to learn about heating and cooling without heating and cooling? That's our next lesson from the Columban Fathers. Stay tuned.

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