Thanks to Henry Flores and Naresli Calito, CFCA communication center staffers in El Salvador, for this engaging report!
Think. Eat. Save. That’s the theme for World Environment Day 2013!
The food choices we make can sometimes negatively affect the environment in which we live.
Think. Eat. Save. encourages us to be more aware of the impact our food choices can make in our environment.
Global food production occupies 25 percent of all habitable land and is responsible for 70 percent of fresh water consumption, 80 percent of deforestation and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Environment Day website.
To help fight these problems, CFCA-El Salvador came up with five creative and inspirational ways to improve their environment!
1. Salvadoran families receive an eco-stove through CFCA
The cost to fuel a 35-pound gas cooking stove averages $12.50 each month for a family of five.
Because many of the families we work with have an extremely low income, a gas stove is a luxury they cannot afford.
Instead, many families use firewood, which can be purchased or cut down from trees.
Besides the impact on the environment caused by the use of firewood for cooking, respiratory problems, eye infections and lung cancer are some of the health problems families face when cooking with firewood.
To tackle this problem, CFCA-El Salvador purchased 37 eco-stoves for sponsored friends and their families through a donation from McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School in New York.
Students and faculty at the High School have been supporters of CFCA for some time and raised funds to help CFCA in El Salvador.
Students, teachers and others in their community donated more than $3,400 for the eco-stove initiative!
Eco-stoves reduce the amount of firewood used, which lessens smoke and pollution as well as the number of trees being cut down.
CFCA staffers chose these 37 families to receive the eco-stoves because they witnessed their dedication and positive attitude toward creating a healthier environment for themselves and their families.
Many live in very poor housing conditions: huts made out of rusted sheet metal, some wood and some adobe. They had no gas stove and were using firewood for cooking.
3 cheers for eco-stoves
- Eco-friendly stoves reduce the amount of firewood regularly used by 60 percent! That’s a lot of trees!
- The stoves are equipped with a metal chimney that funnels the smoke and fumes outside the house, which reduces respiratory problems and eye infections.
- The cost of an eco-stove is $100 and lasts an average of 10 years.
2. An eco-friendly CFCA center in El Salvador
When it came time to build the new CFCA center in El Salvador, staffers made sure to consider the environmental impact of their work.
“We searched for materials that were environmentally friendly,” said Tulio Ramos, CFCA center administrator in El Salvador. “For example, regular bricks have to be fired/baked in a handmade kiln, which uses large amounts of firewood for firing.”
The CFCA center was built using eco-friendly cinderblocks, instead.
“If we had used regular bricks, which are smaller, we would have had to use more bricks than cinderblock,” Tulio said.
“This would have resulted in cutting down more trees for firewood to fire/bake the bricks, and it would also produce large amounts of smoke and toxic gases in the communities where these bricks are baked. It would also release harmful emissions into the ozone layer.”
- For every 7,000 bricks, an average of three adult trees are needed for firing/baking them.
- Brick firing is done in handmade kilns made of adobe, mud and molasses.
- The firing period, with constant fuel burning, can last between 18 and 30 hours.
- The kiln emits carbon dioxide, suffocating smoke, ash and other contaminants into the environment.
3. H20 go!
The location of the CFCA center has very little connectivity to running water.
A water well was built in order to obtain and purify drinking water on the premises.
When the stones for the parking lot were placed, staffers made sure to allow for 1/4 inch separation between stones.
The separation helps rainwater enter the sand layer, enabling the water to go back into the land.
CFCA staffers in El Salvador have calculated that an average of 70 percent of the rainwater received at the CFCA center is going back into the land and refilling the water sources for the entire community to use.
4. Reusable bag initiative for benefit distribution
In 2008, CFCA-El Salvador spent an average of $7,000 in plastic bags when distributing benefits such as food staples.
To ban the bag, they decided to give each family in the program reusable bags, which they use to pick up their items.
Since that time, CFCA-El Salvador has reduced usage each year by an average of 120,000 plastic bags that are no longer being purchased or thrown out.
This decision has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2008, as well as almost 1 million fewer plastic bags in the environment!
5. Recycling initiatives
El Salvador does not have an official public recycling system.
Therefore, CFCA has reduced the number of plastic bottles used during awareness trips by encouraging sponsors to bring their own bottles and refill them with purified water available at the center.
Non-disposable plates and cups are used at meals, and go through a strict process of sanitation afterward.
Congratulations to CFCA-El Salvador for making our Earth a little greener!
What are your plans to improve the community where you live? Leave us a comment below!