Emmaus International

For its 40-year anniversary Emmaus Toulouse organised a day dedicated to the environmental and social transition. Benoit, the group leader at the Labarthe site, spoke to us about the community's commitment to this topic.

What initiatives do you run that help protect the environment?
We lead the traditional activities of an Emmaus community: sorting, repairing, re-using and selling on objects but we are also committed to protecting the environment on a more wide scale and we have even included this goal in our statutes. We monitor our electricity consumption, for example, and try to eat untreated, locally produced fruit and vegetables. We have also been thinking about how to design housing with a low environmental footprint for our companions. Before launching an initiative we always ask ourselves whether it respects people and the environment.

Is Emmaus a stakeholder for the environmental and social transition?
Since its early days Emmaus has fought to protect the environment with its waste collection activities. Every day we are confronted with the environmental and social consequences of programmed obsolescence and excessive consumption, these realities are which provide us with the materials we need to survive but we also fight against this situation. Emmaus' financial independence is clearly based on recycling and re-use but what is unique about Emmaus is how it gives people their dignity back whilst respecting the environment at the same time, within Emmaus these two elements are closely interlinked.

What should be Emmaus' stance?
I think we should take up our role as a stakeholder in the social and environmental transition and strengthen our political voice as we definitely have things to say. Emmaus proves that it is possible to develop models which respect both people and the environment.
The communities should continue to be living spaces as well as hotbeds for projects and innovation. Our communities should be open to people from outside and they should be involved in local networks of associations.


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