Caring for the earth is never done: How to take action in 2021

February 11, 2021 Beth Schenk

Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution with the best of intentions, but abandoned it by March? Well, that’s the fate of about 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions. This year, we’re asking you to join us in our organization’s New Year’s resolution — to make Providence carbon negative by 2030.

Our call to care for the earth, our common home, is woven deep within the Providence values. Here are three ways you can join us this year as we work to make environmental stewardship a priority.

Commit to one new action from our WE ACT framework

Our WE ACT framework describes actions we can take to address five sources of pollution: waste, energy and water efficiency, agriculture, chemicals, and transportation. By choosing to take a new action from one of the WE ACT categories, you can help Providence achieve the most significant environmental stewardship goal in our history. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Find news ways to recycle, compost or reprocess products safely
  • Install a faucet aerator on your sinks to reduce water consumption without losing water pressure
  • Donate unused food to local shelters or purchase food locally
  • Use green cleaning products that are safe for the environment
  • Try biking, walking or ridesharing for your daily commute or telecommute if you are able

Go on a paper diet  

The average American uses about seven trees or an average of 700 pounds of paper, wood and other products made from trees every year. But that’s not the worst part. Paper production, distribution, use and disposal require a large amount of energy and raw materials — especially water. So, an easy way to make a big impact is to reduce paper use. Here are a few simple ways to get started:

  • Use collaboration platforms to collaborate and share documents, instead of printing.
  • Decrease printing. If you must print something, print double-sided or in gray scale.
  • Send out electronic meeting information in advance. Not only does this save paper, but it also helps everyone prepare for the meeting.

Join or start a local green team

A green team is a group people who are committed to helping their organization improve its environmental footprint and operate in a more environmentally sustainable way. Across Providence, caregivers have formed green teams to help advance environmental stewardship efforts at the local level. Whether you're interested in starting a green team of your own or enhancing your current green team, this step-by-step guide has helpful information and tips.

Here are some simple steps you and your team can take to reduce waste and become good stewards of your resources:

  • Bring reusable dishes, silverware and water bottles to use at work.
  • Bike, walk or ride share to work when possible.
  • Volunteer with an environmental group as a team.


Related resources

  • Practice Greenhealth: A national nonprofit that engages the healthcare sector in environmental stewardship.
  • ENERGY STAR: A national program by the U.S. EPA that provides tools and resources to sup port organizations to become more energy efficient.
  • U.S. Green Building Council: A nonprofit that certifies buildings and portfolios with a “green” building designation.
  • Earth Day Network: A nonprofit with a mission to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.

About the Author

Beth Schenk is the executive director of environmental stewardship for Providence, leading a cross-functional commitment to reduce operational pollution while addressing environmental justice and climate resilience in the communities we serve. Beth has been a Providence caregiver for over 30 years. From serving as an ICU nurse at St. Patrick in Missoula to leading nursing research across the Providence organization, Beth has nurtured her passion for environmental care. Her first successful recycling project was over 25 years ago. Since then she has led Montana’s award-winning Green 4 Good program. She co-founded Providence’s first regional environmental stewardship council. She has co-led a system-wide monthly meeting on environmental stewardship since 2008.

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