Thursday, March 30, 2006

Churches Choose 'Eco-Palms' for Palm Sunday Services

Combining ecology and theology, a growing number of churches are choosing “eco-palms” for their Palm Sunday services. It's an idea that's resonating with congregations who previously had not given much thought to where palms come from and who often have interests in other justice causes, such as “fair trade coffee” supporting Third World coffee growers. “To have in our hand on Palm Sunday a palm that we know has been harvested in an ecologically friendly way, in a way that's going to benefit the communities and the people who harvested them, adds that much more depth to our celebration of Palm Sunday,” says Brenda Meier, parish projects coordinator for Baltimore-based Lutheran World Relief, which has taken the lead in promoting palm fronds that preserve the environment and livelihood of Mexican and Guatemalan harvesters.
(From a story on Religion News Service for March 30, 2006.)

Is there actually that big an international palm industry? I always figured we just got them from Texas, Florida, and California. And what do you have to do to harvest palm fronds in an “ecologically unfriendly” manner? It doesn’t hurt the tree to just go out and pull a bunch of fronds off. Do they chop down the palm trees just to harvest the greenery?

I'm sorry to be the skeptic, but if this is indeed a problem, can someone explain it to me? It sounds more like somebody came up with a really good marketing scheme than that we’re saving the world one palm tree at a time. I don’t know beans about the situation, and I could be wrong. But the whole idea reminds me of some companies I’m familiar with that do eco-friendly packaging – the product goes through the assembly line and gets packed in the normal manner, then gets shipped to a repackaging center where they pull it out of the original cardboard box and put it in the “eco-friendly” package. The cardboard can’t be reused, so it goes to the recycler. The customer pays extra, and uses two boxes instead of one.

Maybe we should go to reusable plastic fronds. No, that would be a mess when you try to burn them for Ash Wednesday ashes. The toxic fumes would take out the Altar Guild, and the ashes would probably give us all forehead cancer.

Next thing, they'll be telling us we all have to have vegan liturgies. "This is my broccoli, which is given for you..." Clearly, the end times are upon us.