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Green Pilgrimage Newsletter Number 8, September 2013

September 23, 2013:

Green Pilgrimage Network Newsletter 8

Dear Friends and Fellow Pilgrims

This newsletter follows on from our second Green Pilgrimage Meeting in Norway July 26-28 2013 in the beautiful, and environmentally friendly pilgrim city of Trondheim .

Ninety religious and secular leaders and representatives joined us, from China, Japan, India, Palestine, Israel, Mexico, Nigeria, Armenia and Europe to share stories of their journey to make their pilgrim places more sustainable. This newsletter is our ‘Trondheim edition’.

What to do with the flip-flops?

Arvind Padhee is Chief Administrator of the Jagannath Temple in the pilgrim city of Puri in India. He came hot foot to Trondheim the day after overseeing the annual Ratha-yatra Chariot Festival. It’s quite an event, bringing in about five million pilgrims over 12 days. About 1.2 million people each day walk behind three Hindu deities carried on enormous, colourful chariots pulled by devotees. We were delighted to learn that our English word juggernaut, for ginormous truck, comes from these chariots

Yes, Arvind had issues of crowd control, toilets (never enough), waste (always too much) and the big question every year of where so many people would stay (tents, usually). But he had one other question for the Green Pilgrimage Network as Puri becomes one of the 16 new members.

What to do with the two truckloads of flip-flops left behind after every festival?

Imagine you’re walking in a huge crowd, and someone treads on the back of your flipflop, pulling it off. You can’t go back to pick it up, in fact it might even be dangerous if you ducked down in such a crowd. So you continue, half-bare-footed, and if you have been to the Ratha-yatra before, you might even have brought a spare pair with you.

And so, each year the flip-flops pile up and each festival Arvind Padhee wonders what to do with them. There are no recycling facilities and he’d like a solution.

I could hear the flip-flop question being discussed at different tables at Trondheim, where delegates were swopping tales from their pilgrim cities - whilst enjoying Norwegian hospitality at a hotel famed for winning awards for serving the best breakfast in the country. (How many types of smoked fish are there? They were all delicious and local)

Wendy Brawer, Founder of Green Maps (which is the organization we commissioned to design the GPN logo for us, and which helped Trondheim make a green map this summer) suggested we hold a competition, or an online debate. She made a video about the flip flop question and sent it to Sustainability Maker- an online market place for sustainable solutions and contacted a group in New Jersey which has made floors from flip-flops for playgrounds and has a worldwide recycling scheme. This is one to watch! Not only because of the flipflops but because it’s an example of the ideas-sharing ethos which is part of the structure of our network

And what to do with the polybags?

Continue reading here

Read previous newsletters here.

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GPN - Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
Useful information about the Green Pilgrimage Network in the form of answers to basic questions.
September 18, 2013:
Religions and environment is "match made in heaven." University of Minnesota site
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Green pilgrimage network members
The vision is of pilgrims on all continents and the pilgrim cities that receive them, leaving a positive footprint on the Earth