IEN @ Ban The Bag Press Conference

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Rabbi Steve Folberg speaking on behalf of IEN 

I was delighted to represent IEN at the Ban The Bag Alliance press conference on January 30th down at City Hall. The event marked the 30-day countdown to the effective date of the ordinance, which bans both paper and plastic single-use bags. No more "paper or plastic?" at the cash register. From now on, it's B.Y.O.B. - bring your own bag. 

Folks from the Clean Water Alliance, Texas Campaign for the Environment and other groups attended. IEN stalwart Sarah Wells Macias provided moral support (as well as the photo, above). Local activist/musician Bill Oliver played his "Bring Your Own Bag" anthem and the Bag Monsters put in a farewell appearance. (Watching these two guys, covered in plastic bags, pass through City Hall security was, apparently, pretty hilarious. God bless both of them, whoever they are in real life.) Local news media were there, too, and apparently we got some nice TV news coverage.

Here's the text of my remarks:

Ban The Bag Alliance Press Conference Remarks 
Rabbi Steven Folberg
January 30, 2013

In the five years since its founding, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin has grown in individual and congregational memberships. We now hold monthly symposia on topics related to faith and environmental stewardship, maintain a resource-filled web site and are home to an Energy Action Team that is helping member congregations to constructively tackle climate change by becoming more energy efficient. 

But IEN is more than a local organization. As an affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light, we represent a growing, national movement: adherents of diverse religious traditions, passionate in our belief that actively caring for the planet is an essential expression of our spiritual lives.

At their core, our faith traditions teach us that all reality is connected, related and interdependent. What affects one of us affects all of us. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the struggle to preserve Creation. We are connected to each other, to all life and to the generations to come. There is truly no such place as “away,” as in, “I threw it away.” Our waste goes somewhere, and even if we cannot see the havoc it wreaks, someone else does. Our actions, choices and lifestyles have very real consequences for our neighbors, our grandchildren and the earth. 

It was therefore obvious to the IEN Steering Committee that our group should ally itself with the Ban The Bag Alliance. As a result, two of our clergy members were lobbying City Council representatives on behalf of the initiative during the summer of 2011, pressing not only the case for the bag ban, but also for minimizing its economic impacts on our poorest citizens.

Our diverse faith traditions lead us to our environmental stewardship commitments in different ways. For a Roman Catholic Christian, preserving Creation might grow out of recognition that the earth that Jesus walked is henceforth forever sanctified. For a Buddhist, the chaos of wanton, careless consumption and wastefulness might be the reflection of a chaotic and restless mind. For a Protestant Christian, conservation of natural resources might be a way of living out the call to love one’s neighbor as oneself. For a Muslim, one might be called by Allah to be a Khalif, a guardian of the planet. For a Jew, the imperative to partner with God in preserving and perfecting the work of Creation leads to bal tash-chit, the prohibition against wastefulness and destructiveness. 

All our spiritual paths lead us to responsibility for the wellbeing of the earth and the lives of those who will follow us. And that is why the members and leadership of the Interfaith Environmental Network have been proud to be a part of the Ban The Bag Initiative.

May our work today and in the future bear fruits of justice and life for ourselves and the generations to come. Amen.

Poste by Steve Folberg

© 2017 Interfaith Environmental Network