We are dreaming of a waste-free Christmas!

ISMAPNG Policy Area: Waste

Does the thought of all the waste involved in celebrating Christmas horrify you? As we think about giving Christmas gifts we are often mindful of those less fortunate than we are – but what would it look like to give a Christmas gift to planet Earth? As Pope Francis writes, “The earth itself is “among the most maltreated and abandoned of our poor” (Laudato Si’ 2). 

At a time of giving and feasting in our “throwaway culture”, waste can really diminish the joy of the season, so we’ve put together a few ideas that may help work towards a waste-free, joy-filled Christmas!


Have a go at making a tree from branches or found objects. If you really want a live tree, consider natives such as She Oak or Wollemi Pine, which are great in pots and can be used for years to come. Decorate with homemade trinkets or recycled goods.


Every year we throw away enough wrapping to go around the equator nine times! And most of the wrapping paper available is non-recyclable. This year, try to find recyclable or eco-friendly wrapping paper, use up old newspapers (you could even paint onto them), or consider waste-free wrapping options, such as reusable cloths like old scarves, vintage hankies or retro tea towels and table cloths.


The supermarket aisles at this time of year can be jam-packed with imported and often preservative-laden foods. In the mad rush to set a bountiful table, it can be tempting and convenient to buy whatever looks festive. Just keep in mind that most of us over-cater at Christmas and the food waste can be colossal come Boxing Day. In an effort to significantly reduce our overall food waste, we need to make sure we are extra mindful when planning our menus. Instead of chucking out your left overs freeze for later use or get creative and turn them into something else.

Remember to keep fruit and vegetable choices seasonal and Australian. If you are serving meat and seafood do a little research and choose ethically and sustainably. The Sustainable Seafood Guide is a good place to start for seafood and you can look for local suppliers similar to Feather & Bone. Also try to make, instead of buy - you will never buy a fruit mince pie as delicious as the one you make! And if you start your preserving now, you can have pickled cherries, mustard fruits and relishes ready for the table.

Christmas cards

With domestic mail doubling during the month of December it is safe to assume that Christmas cards make up a very high percent of post. Why not make your own Christmas cards from old ones or send ecards instead.


Food is a great gift; it is always appreciated and never gets dumped at the charity store a few months later. Make a batch of pickles, kimchi, or cordial and give them to your loved ones. They will have a lot more meaning than another scented candle!

Choose pre-loved or vintage gifts from markets, op-shops, www.etsy.com/au/ or garage sales!

If you're out of time for making gifts this year, then don't forget to shop small! Get out of the big department stores and head to your local shops to help the small businesses in your neighbourhood. Buy handmade and local products.  When you buy items made on a small scale, chances are you are supporting fair wages and low-impact production.

Instead of buying material gifts this Christmas, why not give an experience that one of your loved ones will remember such as tickets to a popular show or play, or a short holiday, or even a gift voucher which will ensure that the receiver will buy something they actually need or really want.


Rahamim Ecology Centre will be closed from 23 December 2017 to 2 January 2018, inclusive.

The staff and volunteers would like to take this opportunity to wish you
a peaceful and happy Christmas and New Year.

“Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life”.

(Earth Charter, The Hague (29 June 2000), as quoted in Laudato Si’, #148)

Recycling e-waste

Did you know that you can recycle:

  • Personal and laptop computers and all cables
  • Tablets, notebooks and palmtops
  • Computer monitors and parts (e.g. internal hard drives and CD drives)
  • Computer peripherals and accessories (e.g. mice, keyboards, web cameras, USBs and modems)
  • Printers, faxes, scanners and multi-functional devices
  • All televisions

for free by dropping them off at a TechCollect collection point?

To find your nearest TechCollect collection point, click here.

To learn more about recycling e-waste (including why it's important), click here.


Under the microscope

We've just found a beautiful microscope in our collection, fully equipped with a camera able to produce photos and video - so let us know: what would you like to see under the microscope?

This photo shows a few leaves of grass at 10x magnification ...

This photo shows a few leaves of grass at 10x magnification ...

... while this shows the same grass, this time at 60x magnification

... while this shows the same grass, this time at 60x magnification

Living in an Earth Community: ISMAPNG Action on Sustainable Buildings

How can we live more justly in the Earth community? As our Mercy values and constitutions affirm, “we are integrally connected with each other and with the whole of creation” – is this reflected in our homes and other buildings? If not, what changes are demanded of us in our adaptation, design and construction of the buildings in which we live and work in order to ‘break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness’ (Pope Francis: 8th Work of Mercy) in our use of land, materials and Earth’s life-support systems, especially water?

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Celebrating National Science Week

Scientific discoveries over many generations have given rise to new awakenings, new ways of ‘seeing’ for the human, not only through microscopes and telescopes but also within our inner life of spiritual meaning. This is particularly so as we begin to comprehend the meaning of the 13.8 billion year unfolding story of the universe.

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War on Waste: Plastics

The recent ABC TV series, War on Waste, alerted Australians to the extraordinary amount of plastic we use and send to land fill each day. Our Institute’s ‘War on Waste’ moved to a new level in 2016 with the launch of the Sustainable Living Policy, ‘An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Living’.

Read More

World Environment Day Celebrations: Kangaroo Tea Party at Rahamim a big success!

Have you noticed, when driving on country roads, there seems to be fewer kangaroos in your headlights these days?

This is one of the reasons why World Environment Day celebrations at Rahamim were in the form of a Sunday afternoon children’s Kangaroo Tea Party this year. 

Kangaroos were the guests of honour with fun games (like the bone identification game and joey mortality rate activity), kangaroo craft, dancing, trivia, face painting and a community colouring-in competition about Kangaroos on Mt Panorama (Wahluu).

Everyone at the Kangaroo Tea Party had fun and learned some interesting (and very concerning) facts. 

Firstly, did you know that kangaroos are a slow-growing species, so the idea of a ‘population explosion’ is actually impossible? A kangaroo doe will likely raise a joey to independence at four years of age, if she lives on she will remain fertile until age 12, with one joey possible per year. But the mortality rate of the joeys is at 73% because of threats like dogs, foxes cars, fences, and disease. During drought this rate rises to 100%!

Secondly, of the eight joey survivors possible, statistically only one of those will be female, so the doe will only replace herself once during her lifetime. So even when left undisturbed in optimal natural conditions, kangaroo populations will not keep increasing, but will become equally balanced or stable.  Among other risks to populations, we can add the 85% reduction in woodland habitat Kangaroos need, as well as shooting quotas of 15-20% per year for industrial-scale slaughter. This culling remains largely unscrutinised - the largest commercial hunting of land-based wildlife on the planet!  

Rahamim’s Kangaroo Tea Party Event was jointly hosted by Charles Sturt University’s CSU Green and the Bathurst Kangaroo Project, an internationally-supported effort communicating science to raise awareness of the facts about the threats to kangaroos.

To learn more facts about kangaroos visit www.kangaroosatrisk.net.

Spirit of the River Pilgrimage by Tracy Sorensen

Last weekend a group of us piled into a couple of mini buses and a small fleet of cars to visit points of interest along the Macquarie River (in Bathurst, NSW), known for thousands of years as the Wambool. The tour was organised by the Rahamim Ecology Centre, a ministry of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea, and led by environmentalist John Fry and Aboriginal elder Dinawan.

In her introductory remarks, Sr Patricia Powell rsm said there was a difference between "knowing" the river and "knowing about" the river. To "know" something or someone comes through repeated contact over time. I know my sister; I know how to drive a car. You can know "about" something by reading about it in a book or having someone mention it in conversation. The first kind of knowing is a soaked-in knowing; the other kind can evaporate without practice or contact.

Our tour of the river was to get to know it better by spending a little time with it, listening to the wind through the casuarinas, the sounds of crickets and frogs, noticing its different colours and flows. At each point of interest, we all fell silent for a moment just to listen. Just doing this, with others, was a very moving experience.

We began our tour at White Rock, near the confluence of the Fish and Campbell Rivers. The meeting of the rivers was also a meeting place for Aboriginal people in times gone by, a place for marriages and to work out disputes. We continued through cabbage-growing country, stopping on the opposite side of the river off Montavella Road, a place I know well because it's where I take my dog for swim.

We looked at steep, eroded gullies that once held water more gently; we heard about the stumps of the giant casuarinas that used to follow not just the main river course but the smaller tributaries; we heard about hunting parties in the 1920s that would come back with hundreds of platypus that were there for the taking. We heard about the giant cod that used to be here; an abundant supermarket that supported life for aeons.

We made out way through town and out to Raglan Creek and the old brick pit favoured by migratory birds. We looked at the reeds that filter water naturally. Instead of diverting 10 megalitres a day of treated water to a gold mine, as has been proposed, John Fry suggested the water be brought to a carefully constructed wetland here, where it could soak into the ground and restore a little of the river to something like its former glory.

Tracy Sorensen is Secretary of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network. Visit www.bccan.org.au.


Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/squawkingala...

Our Common Home – Collaborating to Meet the Ecological Crisis

Friday 29 April 2016

“Our Common Home”, the inaugural Calare Eco-Summit (in Central-West NSW), designed to connect all organisations concerned about ecological issues in our electoral region, was recently held in Bathurst, hosted by Rahamim in conjunction with a number of other ecological organisations. This is the first in a series of summits of its kind.

Inspired by the 2015 encyclical letter on ecology and climate by Pope Francis “On care for our Common Home”, the summit sought to demonstrate how diverse organisations (such as community groups, ecologists, local government and faith/spiritual organisations) could better take up our shared responsibilities for the Earth community. 

Rather than create another ‘umbrella’ organisation, the aim was to find synergy, responding to the question “What can we do together that we cannot do alone?”

The program, facilitated by Roz Townsend and Neil Davidson, enabled 18 organisations to get to know each other, to create confluence, coherence and smarter collaboration to better face our region’s climate, energy, biodiversity, water, waste and land management challenges. 

World Café discussions generated deeper resonance, enabling conversations between diverse individuals and organisations, especially around the question “What conversation, if begun today, could ripple out in a way that creates new possibilities for the future of our region?” Some examples of topics that arose include:

  • The power of conversations to shift awareness
  • Creating a framework to create conversations of the future, spreading ideas and networks for a better outcome
  • Changing approach to issues from “Challenges” to “Opportunities”
  • Experiential education: the impact of hearing from practitioners on site in the field that can be applied in ‘real’ life
  • Galvanising individual voices, who experienced disruption, into united groups
  • Developing a regional vision for adaptation and building resilience for climate change, in spite of our political environment
  • Controlling our destiny: getting Bathurst self-sufficient for food and off the national energy grid.

The group explored issues, exemplars, barriers and possible ways of advancing these topics. Some diagrams helped explore the dynamics of coming together across difference and getting past the often incomplete and sometimes stereotypical assumptions about where an individual or organisation might be ‘coming from’.

Through introductions to Neil Davidson’s systems thinking, participants recognised the need for a greater collective ‘systems understanding’ if we are to come together around common purpose/s – at any of many scales: project, city, bioregion – to regenerate environments and codesign viable futures.

 There was a collective realisation that we each need to permit ourselves and others to ‘be complex’ – in order to bring our whole selves to be present in systems context – this needs safe spaces, trust-building toward trust-worthy relationships, and a bit of assistance to allow coherence to build in systems context.


The Eco-Summit was planned by a steering committee comprising members of Bathurst Climate Change Action Network, CENREC, Skillset, Bathurst Regional Council, Greening Bathurst, Bathurst Wholefood Co-operative, Bathurst Goldfields, Charles Sturt University and Rahamim Ecology Centre.