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Passion for Our Common Home: Meet Sister Soil

“Here’s the thing: if food waste goes to a landfill, it releases methane as it breaks down, which is a greenhouse gas,” explains Sister Sara Tarango. Sister Sara serves as an environmental stewardship liaison for the Southern California region of Providence St. Joseph Health.  


“We’re trying to keep food, as much food as possible, out of the landfill. Instead of it going into the garbage, food goes into a green bin, and it is composted off site and made into luscious soil.”


Sister Sara is passionate about soil health.  It earned her the nickname “Sister Soil,” given by another sister who was listening to her enthusiasm for caring for the earth.  The name stuck.  


A Northern California native from Santa Rosa, Sister Sara grew up in an agricultural area. Prior to joining the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange as a candidate in 2019, some of her previous experience was in the wine and hospitality industries where she worked in human resources. She’s bilingual, having majored in Spanish and Latin American Studies, with a minor in international relations and additional business education.


Today, Sister Sara helps advocate for Providence’s WE ACT initiative (Waste, Energy and Water, Agriculture and Food, Chemicals, and Transportation). “Healthcare in the United States constitutes 8.5% of carbon emissions,” shares Sister Sara.  


“They say that the amount of waste in a hospital is 29 pounds per bed, per day.” Providence aspires to be carbon negative by 2030 using WE ACT to focus their efforts. Naturally, Sister Sara is drawn to the Agriculture and Food topic.


“We know there’s opportunity and there have been a lot of really great ideas that bubble up from those who are on the front lines.”  As part of her ministry, she works with a company called Practice Greenhealth. Together they are striving towards the goal of decarbonizing health care.


Sister Sara’s interest in environmental stewardship comes from a few places.  Watching the film Kiss the Ground awakened her passion.  A class with Sister Nadine McGuinness on Pope Francis’ encyclical letter “Laudato Si’” was an influencer for her too.


“It was the initial spark into rediscovering my passion for caring for our common home, caring for creation.” Since then, she has served as an advocate of taking better care of the world.


When Sister Sara is not giving presentations on environmental facts, or visiting different sites to actively work towards change, she loves to bake – especially muffins since that was a family tradition. She also likes to hike, dance, read mystery books, and to catch up with friends.


On her journey as a Sister of St. Joseph, Sister Sara is excited for what God has in store for her.  “I look forward to what God has in mind for the next couple of years and following God’s lead. We do this together. We are co-authors of writing the story, God and I.”


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