- News / Media
- Mandala Magazine
- FPMT News
- Important Announcements
- Lama Zopa Rinpoche News
- RSS Feeds
- Social Media
- Videos, Photos, & Publications
- Education News
- Prayers & Practice Materials
- Mantras and Sutras
- Death and Dying
- Teachings and Advice
- Holy Objects
- FPMT Service Seminars
- Offer Your Support
- Buddhism FAQ
- Spiritual Guides
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
- Lama Thubten Yeshe
- Lama Zopa Rinpoche
- Rinpoche’s Teachers
- Resident Teachers
- Touring Lamas
- Shugden/Dolgyal Information
- Make a Donation
- Charitable Projects
- News about Projects
- Other Projects within FPMT
- International Office Activities
- Give Where Most Needed
- About FPMT
- Join Friends of FPMT
- Osel Hita
- International Office
- Regional & National Offices
- Statements of Appreciation
- Volunteer & Jobs
- Annual Review
Behaving in a Greener Way: Panchen Losang Chogyen Gelugzentrum Acts Ecologically
DHARMA AND THE MODERN WORLD
By Andrea Husnik
Panchen Losang Chogyen Gelugzentrum in Vienna, Austria, developed environmental guidelines after moving into our own center space. The guidelines cover all aspects of center administration over which the center is able to make a decision.
First, we started by finding a center space very easy to reach by public transportation. Also, the center tried to use as much as possible ecological materials for various elements of interior design (varnishes, paints, etc.). In Europe, there are many reliable eco-seals (like the EU Ecolabel, EU Energy Star, Fair Flowers Fair Plants, and Fairtrade) for all types of things.
Although the insulation, heating system and windows are the responsibility of the building owner and cannot be changed by us, we tackled the things we could change, such as buying the most energy-saving light fittings. The center board also decided to avoid using a lot of energy, so we have only a refrigerator and do without a freezer. We bought energy-saving household appliances as much as possible and to conserve water, we installed special toilet flushing features while renovating our restrooms.
Not every member who engaged in the renovation of the center agreed completely with these eco-conscious decisions and some accepted ideas only when we could prove that our decision was not particularly more expensive then the conventional, non-ecological alternative. For example, to save membership fees and resources, we made use of second-hand furniture and dishes for the office and the kitchen.
The center also uses marked bins to separate waste. We canceled advertising materials and try to use recycled paper (both sides!). When possible, envelopes are reused. Although we have no garden, we use indoor plants for health, cleaner air and wellness. Pesticides are forbidden.
Our guidelines also address issues like food and drink. We buy only fair-trade and organic tea, coffee and fruit juices, and we check for reliable food and eco-labeling on products. Having mountain water in Vienna means we don’t need drinking water in bottles at all. Aluminium cans are banned because of their energy consumption during the production and its effect on the environment.
Cleaning is done with labeled ecological detergents and cleaning agents. Systems at our entryway reduce the dirt carried into the building. Disinfectants are not used because centers are not hospitals and are not needed (although they are hospitals for the mind!). We talk about getting rid of scents used in the toilets, but it is very difficult because some members love it so much and don´t understand that others might be sensitive to them.
Mindfulness in connection with environmentally correct behavior is not always easy. One has to work against ingrained consumer habits. Being a member, or even being a board member, of an FPMT center does not mean automatically that one is more free of old patterns and aware of sustainability. Often ecologically oriented advice is not well received and even if it is, it is not always valued enough. I’m unsure why this is so. Perhaps its because practitioners are already trying hard to be compassionate in daily life, forgetting the little beings who get killed or will be by the consequences of consumption. Perhaps some practitioners believe that their behavior has nothing to do with environmental protection because they are each only one person. Perhaps it is just laziness and unawareness in daily life.
Although a good start, having environmental policy guidelines is not enough. To live in an ecologically friendly way requires more than just someone knowing what to do. It requires that we think of the environment holistically – remembering all its different parts – and consider all the resources going into the products we consume. We need to ask: Do we really need to buy this? Is this food locally, seasonally and organically produced? We want to get the most beautiful looking fruit for the altar, for example, but we don’t reflect on the impact of it coming from an other continent or being produced by child labor.
So far, Panchen Losang Chogyen Gelugzentrum has not found time to create a system for measuring and evaluating our decisions. But will do so in the near future.
It will take time to raise awareness on environmental issues. In response, as an eco-counselor by profession in the biggest independent educational and counseling NGO organization in Austria (“die umweltberatung”), I started to offer lectures on Buddhism and ecology to the Buddhist Union of Austria and other interested groups. Donations from these events go towards the center.
Soon we hope to post the main points of these lectures on our homepage. And eventually, the center will offer printed materials to students to provide tips for an ecological lifestyle and ways to implement them as consumers in their everyday lives.
Andrea Husnik is spritual program coordinator (SPC) of Panchen Losang Chogyen Gelugzentrum.
- Online Features
- Mandala eZine FAQ
- Mandala for 2015
- Mandala for 2014
- Mandala for 2013
- The Purpose of Study (continued): Ven. George Churinoff Finishes His Story with Lama Yeshe and Tenzin Ösel Hita
- We Cannot Live without Harming Others
- On Becoming a Vegan: When Vegetarian is Not Enough
- Four Countries, Countless Benefits: Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s East Asia Tour Photo Gallery
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Nature of Mind
- Our Fundamental Needs: An Interview with David Suzuki
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama Speaks on Aging and Death in Switzerland
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama at FPMT Center Events March-May 2013 Photo Gallery
- Behaving in a Greener Way: Panchen Losang Chogyen Gelugzentrum Acts Ecologically
- Buddhist Business Lessons to Share: Creating Right Livelihood
- Shopping Buddha
- Planting Seeds of Peace in Mexico City: Universal Education for Compassion and Wisdom in Action
- In Praise of the Universal Mother
- Overcoming Alcoholism and Introducing a Healthy Lifestyle in Mongolia
- Cherishing Life and a Recipe for Mushroom and Kale Pâté
- Understanding Lam-rim: An Interview with Ven. Sangye Khadro on the Masters Program
- ‘I Will Be Paralyzed and Happy’ and Other Writings by Bob Brintz
- Blessing the Waters of New Zealand’s North Island
- Meet Geshe Deyang
- I Will Be Paralyzed and Happy
- Mandala for 2012
- Mandala for 2011
- Mandala for 2010
- Mandala for 2009
- Mandala for 2008
- Mandala for 2007
- Mandala for 2006
- Mandala for 2005
- Mandala for 2004
- Mandala for 2003
- Mandala for 2002
- Mandala for 2001
- Mandala for 2000
- Older Archives
- Spirituality and Materialism
- Mandala Magazine for Prisoners Fund
- Mandala Advertising and Bulk Sales Payments
- Preliminary Practices by the Zillion
- Thank You!
- ‘Subduing the Mind, Actualizing the Path’ Resource Area
- Maitreya Buddha Statues Photo Gallery
- Khensur Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup Rigsel
Subscribe to FPMT News
Buddhism is not at all a tactful religion, always trying to avoid giving offense. Buddhism addresses precisely what you are and what your mind is doing in the here and now. That’s what makes it so interesting.
Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA
Tel (503) 808-1588 | Fax (503) 232-0557