Lent is a funny time of year. We turn one eye inward, to the spiritual desert, while with the other we watch the physical desert of winter explode into the resurrection that is spring. Of course we celebrate Easter in the spring. At what other time does the physical world so perfectly parallel the spiritual journey we are undertaking?
At this time of year, environmental stewardship is always foremost in my mind, too–as a civic duty, yes, but more importantly, as a Godly one. As the catechism reminds us in #2415, our authority over creation doesn’t give us the right to run roughshod over it. We have a responsibility to honor the integrity of God’s creation and think about the needs of future generations.
With that in mind, I’d like to share a list of everyday ways we, as Catholic Christians, can be more intentional about how we interact with creation. To be more intentional about our consumption and purchasing habits, rather than adopting, without even recognizing it, a culture of “convenience” that almost always involves tremendous waste.
25 ways to be a better steward of creation
In the Kitchen
- Take your own bags to the grocery store. Cloth is even better than paper or plastic.
2. Buy fresh, not prepackaged.
3. Buy local–less transport = less environmental impact.
4. Grow your own vegetables.
6. Recycle.Yes, even so far as bringing home the plastic ware from the fast food restaurants which don’t offer recycling. This is a biggie! Wash them.
7. Wash and reuse Ziploc bags.
8. Wait to run the dishwasher till it’s full.
9. Look for ways to use less plastic overall. Stop buying water bottles–pack your own!
Vehicles and driving
10. Turn off the car. (Another biggie.) Do you get in the car, turn it on, and then check your phone? Why run your vehicle while you check your phone, wait for kids at their lessons/practices, or for your spouse at the grocery store? Every bit of that is unnecessary pollution. Turn it off.
11. Slow down! The faster you drive, the more gas you burn, and it really doesn’t make a significant difference in time, anyway.
12. Combine trips & walk from errand to errand when possible. Not when convenient–when possible.
Around the house
14. Buy bulk refills on cleaners instead of a new squeeze bottle every time.
15. Buy used, and don’t buy things you don’t need. (Another big one!)
16. Turn the lights off.
17. Turn the computer off, or at least put it to sleep. Why have it running while you’re sleeping? And in the summer it’s adding to the heat that the air conditioner has to fight.
18. Use Recycled Paper.
19. Print on the back sides of used paper for rough drafts.
20. Turn the thermostat up a degree in the summer and down a degree in the winter.
21. Plant a tree.
22. Replace parts of your lawn with native plants–wildflowers, low-maintenance ground cover, and so on–so the mowing takes less time and gasoline.
For the Family
23. Use cloth diapers. There are diaper services that can do the cleaning for you.
24. Toilet train early. In my experience, the success or failure toilet training has much more to do with parental commitment than a child’s “readiness.” (Since I’ve toilet trained four kids, and the only one who was over 2 was the one with a disability, I stand by that statement.)
25. Practice Natural Family Planning. No plastic, no chemicals going into the water supply, no waste. And despite what you may have heard…it works.
(This list is adapted from one originally published on my personal blog.)