Thursday, March 13, 2008

Choose Eco-Palms.

For Christians, this Sunday, March 16, marks the beginning of Holy Week. It will be Palm Sunday, my friend Mawunyo's favorite Sunday. When I was growing up, my church, St. Andrew AME, always had palms for all the parishioners on Palm Sunday (Thanks Rev. Lamb!). I remember those spring days now at Mt. Zion AME where I'll wave my palm high this Sunday (Thanks Pastor Cox!) Unfortunately, those palms were not likely grown or harvested in socially and environmentally sustainable ways. Thankfully, now there are Eco-Palms!

Usually people who cut the palms are paid by volume, so harvesters gather as much at possible without paying much attention to quality. Consequently over 50% of the fronds are discarded, which is bad for the forests and the people and animals that depend on them. Eco-Palms are harvested in a more sustainable way. "Harvesters are paid on the quality of the palms they harvest rather than the quantity, which helps to limit the amount of palms taken from the forest. These communities have taken upon themselves to learn about harvesting practices that minimize impact on the natural forest where the palm grows, and ways to protect this wild species of palm." Using Eco-Palm methods only only 5-7% of the harvested palms have to be discarded. The program also eliminates middlemen for sorting and packing. Instead, community member do the work themselves ensuring a higher wage, and improving their standard of living.

Ready to order? Here's the info you need:

University of MN, Eco-Palms
Attn: RaeLynn Jones Loss
1530 Cleveland Ave N
115 Green Hall
St. Paul, MN 55108
Tel: 612-624-7418
Fax: 612-625-5212

Your church can even order now for Palm Sunday 2009. Just download the 2009 Eco-Palms Order Form and email or fax it in. The 2008 cost is $47.50 for 200 fronds compared to $21 to $23 for common palms.

Each year 300 million palm fronds are harvested each year just for the U.S. consumption, most of them for Palm Sunday. Make sure your congregation chooses palms that reflect your faith. And of course, Eco-Palms are are great for florists too. Check out these articles for more.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, and happy Spring to everyone!

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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