Marquette, MI (PRWEB) April 4, 2007
Protecting Michigan's environment in a measurable way is the goal of an annual Earth Day project that this year is targeting pharmaceuticals.
The third annual Earth Keeper Clean Sweep comes after nearly 400 tons of hazardous waste was turned in by over 10,000 residents during the previous two Earth Day collections across northern Michigan.
Prescription medication and over-the-counter medicines will be collected at about two dozen (free) Upper Peninsula drop off sites on Earth Day 2007. There is no charge and the public and small businesses are welcome.
The drop off sites are spread out over more than 400 miles of northern Michigan, believed to be the largest geographic pharmaceutical collection ever held in the United States.
The 2007 Pharmaceutical Clean Sweep is targeting out-of-date and unwanted medications of all kinds, according to Carl Lindquist, executive director of the Superior Watershed Partnership.
"By addressing the issue of pharmaceuticals in our waters the Earth Keepers are once again at the forefront nationally," said Lindquist, co-organizer.
The clean sweep is again sponsored by nine U.P. faith communities with 130,000 members at over 140 churches/temples, the Superior Watershed Partnership, the Cedar Tree Institute, and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC).
The project includes the Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Baha'i, Jewish, and Zen Buddhist faiths.
"As leftover and waste pharmaceuticals get flushed down drains, research is showing that they are increasingly being detected in our lakes and rivers at levels that could be causing harm to the environment and ecosystem," said Elizabeth LaPlante, senior manager for the EPA Great Lakes National Programs Office in Chicago, Ill
Studies show 80 percent of the U.S. rivers sampled "tested positive for a range of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, birth control hormones, antidepressants, veterinary drugs and other medications, Lindquist said.
Rev. Jon Magnuson, clean sweep co-organizer, said that combining religion and environmental protection is, "another step of a deepening connection between the traditions of faith and the critical challenges of the environment."
In 2006, over 320 tons of electronic waste (computers, cell phones etc.) was turned in by 10,000 residents. In 2005, 45 tons of household poisons and vehicle batteries were collected.
"We are all responsible for taking care of the precious environment that has been given to us from our Creator," said KBIC Tribal Council President Susan LaFernier.
Partners include Thrivent Financial, a Wisconsin based "full service financial services company," U.S. Senator Carl Levin's office, and the EPA.
Northern Michigan University EarthKeeper (NMU EK) Student Team project director Jennifer Simula said, "all NMU EarthKeepers are talking to everyone they know about the dangers of improperly-discarded pharmaceuticals and what they're doing to our waterways."
NMU EK Student Team Coordinator Ashley Ormson, 20, said, "we feel the Earth Keeper culture has really spread, not only in our region but internationally as well."
Bishop Alexander K. Sample, Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette, said he is proud that Catholics, "can be part of this continuing effort to care for God's creation, which has been entrusted to our good stewardship."
Lutheran Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes of the Northern Great Lakes Synod said, "medical prescription drugs keep people out of the hospital, help many to heal and are an important part of our health care system."
Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan Bishop James Kelsey said the clean sweep protects the environment while helping to ensure that the U.P. senior population is not consuming ineffective out-of-date medicines.
United Methodist Church Marquette District Superintendent Grant Lobb said the clean sweep is a "great example" of what can happen "when individuals with similar convictions join together" to protect the Earth.
The head priest of the U.P. Zen Buddhist community said "this sort of vigilance and care" is needed to protect the planet adding similar projects should be "vastly expanded" by others.
"The churches and temples are leading the way. Now, if only the politicians can catch up," said Reverend Tesshin Paul Lehmberg, leader of Lake Superior Zendo, a Zen Buddhist temple.
The U.P. Jewish community are turning their commitment to Tikkun Olam and Passover from a traditional observance to social action.
"This year's Clean Sweep of outdated and no longer used medication demonstrates how comprehensive our commitment is to keeping our water pure and our people healthy," said Jewish team member Jacob Silver.
Rev. Dave Van Dam, the Executive Presbyter at the Presbytery of Mackinac, said, "stewardship of the earth is a mandate for all who dwell on the earth - the human family has been called to be instruments of stewardship in behalf of the one to whom it all belongs."
Dr. Rodney Clarken, chair of the Marquette Baha'i spiritual assembly, said the project is, "not only in the obvious benefit to others on our planet who benefit by our taking better care our physical environment, but equally by our social and spiritual working together of different people and faiths."
Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation Earth Keeper team member Gail Griffith said, "the complex mixture of these chemicals, including antidepressants, hormones, blood pressure medications, antibiotics, and the like, can affect the reproductive activity of a number of aquatic species."
The Earth Keeper Initiative received several prestigious honors in 2006 including an international Environmental Stewardship award from the Lake Superior Binational Program and the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) Award.
The Earth Keepers were named one of the 15 hardest working non-profit projects in America in 2006 by World Magazine.
For more information contact the Superior Watershed Partnership at 906-228-6095 or Greg at 906-475-5068.
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