Over the last year we have been looking for ways to minimise our environmental footprint. These days the reasons for doing this are so obvious it barely warrants an explanation. But we might wonder what Buddhism has to say about such an endeavour.
Global pollution epidemics, deforestation and climate change were not issues in the ancient times of the Buddha and are never mentioned explicitly in the texts. Yet there is plenty there to indicate that thrift and recycling, both crucial to the preservation of our planet, were indeed virtues back in the day. For example, Ananda gives a detailed explanation of how monastics’ robes are to be recycled when new ones are received. A wasteful person is referred to as a “wood-apple eater” describing a person who shakes an apple tree and walks off with only a small amount of the fruit that fell, leaving the rest to rot on the ground. And with just a little reflection we can appreciate the basic defilements greed, hatred and delusion, which are so central to Buddhist teachings, are ultimately what is behind the environmental destruction we see.
So, determined not to be derided as “wood-apple eaters”, our management team have worked over the past year to make a number of environmentally conscious improvements, such as:
- sourcing our food and grocery supplies from bulk providers wherever possible
- buying from social enterprises where possible
- significantly reducing plastic packaging waste
- streamlining the composting system
- installing roof insulation in Sasana House
- improving rainwater harvesting from our buildings’ extensive roof area
- maintaining a kitchen garden for leafy greens and herbs
Meanwhile we have been looking into renewal energy options and are planning to install a solar power system next month. Bugs, our resident caretaker has done considerable research to identify an optimal system with a price tag of $14,900 for materials and installation.
We expect the system will reduce our current energy bill by $5000 per year, and on sunny days when retreats aren’t running the unused power will feed back into the grid entitling us to a credit from our electricity provider.
We received $4,589 in Building Fund donations last year which we can contribute to this project so we require another $10,000 to see the costs completely covered.
A total of 51 panels will be installed on the roof of Sasana house which works out at $292 a panel. Can you contribute $100 towards a panel, or even cover the cost of a whole panel for $292?
Any contribution you make will help us cut our carbon emissions and lower our power costs over the future years.
The more you can put in, the greater the benefit not just to the BMIMC community but to our planet and to all living beings.*
Donations are tax deductible
*Wood-apple eaters included