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We will soon be celebrating Christmas. Many people will be getting together with their families to celebrate this festival in an atmosphere of harmony, each attentive to the others’ needs. We often demonstrate this by exchanging gifts with one another – gifts which we have chosen and made or bought to give others pleasure and to show them how much they mean to us. More often than not, this giving of presents results in a mountain of waste – of torn wrapping paper, of so much lavish and now useless packaging, of so many objects, now obsolete as they have been replaced by something new. All these things must be collected and recycled. For me, Christmas – this Christian festival when we remember the birth of Jesus Christ when God became man – is the time that shows most clearly the two sides to our prosperous Western culture.
Alongside this time of goodwill, pleasure and anticipation – especially among children – Christmas is also a perfect example of our consumer culture, of the narrow line between pleasure and tedium, of our consumption of goods and energy, of our desire to have something new and of our rejection of old familiar things. If we didn’t have the systems in place, if we didn’t have separate waste collection services and the recycling sector, we would be suffocating under a mountain of waste. Every year, I travel to Latin America in my role as the bishop responsible for the Adveniat charity. There are people there living on and earning their living from such mountains of waste and these are images that are often in my thoughts. The everyday reality of these people and their outlook on life are so very different to that of others. I find it so hard to live with the knowledge that such poverty still exists and am ashamed at the same time.
Germany’s wealth, the good lives we lead in such a clean and tidy environment – in such contrast to so many other regions around the world – can also be put down to the sophisticated interaction between supply and waste management, something that REMONDIS also represents. We are using our planet’s natural resources more and more efficiently, an ever growing number of products are able to be recycled. Protecting our environment, which we as Christians see as being God’s creation and gift to mankind, has taken on an important role both in the world of politics and society as a whole – Thanks be to God! Sustainability, however, will simply remain a buzz word if serious efforts are not made to achieve it.
The waste management company REMONDIS is a family-run business. Family-run companies have the reputation of caring for things differently, more intensively.
The waste management company REMONDIS is a family-run business. Family-run companies have the reputation of caring for things differently, more intensively. This can be put down to the longer time horizon that perhaps allows the family owners to act in a way towards their stakeholders, employees, customers and neighbours that large enterprises with their high levels of staff turnover are unable to do. These large and small family-run businesses are the backbone of Germany’s economy. This, too, is something precious and something we must be grateful for.
The promise of Christmas – that God is so close to us, that he sent his son Jesus to become one of us, like us in all things except sin – is an answer to the conditions that are needed for our life on Earth. Our responsibilities include us caring for others as well as ourselves and taking care of all aspects of our lives. This also encompasses waste management which allows us to create new life cycles. For us Christians, Christmas, this family festival, is not the pinnacle of consumerism. Advent, the period preceding this festival, is a time of waiting for the arrival of Christmas. In the past, Advent was a time for fasting, a conscious decision to abstain from consumption in the run up to Christmas. In this sense, Advent means “anticipation”. We alone cannot provide everything we need for a good future. On the contrary, most things are provided for us. Experiencing this feeling of well-being, comfort and security, all of which make Christmas so important to us, is a gift from God, from him being so close to us, from him giving us his son. This knowledge can help take the pressure off us and give us great comfort as we go about our everyday lives.
Essen Minster, built in 1275 with roots going back to 845, is in the heart of the German city of Essen and is the seat of the “Diocese of the Ruhr”
With much appreciation for your hard work, I would like to wish everyone working at REMONDIS and their families a “pressure-free” time as they look forward to the blessedness of Christmas.
Bishop of Essen