Care for Creation is an important facet of Christian beliefs and a moral obligation for those with a true concern about future generations. An ancient Indian proverb expresses “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Generational justice is the expectation when societies possess compassion. However, the current population of adults is not in a position to pass on a healthy earth to children and future generations. Many of us have witnessed societal changes that have negatively affected nature to an almost inconceivable extent. These range from the over-production of massive amounts of throwaway materials to excessive inputs of greenhouse gases that create and exacerbate climate change to the contamination and misuse of freshwater around the world. The good news is that we understand these problems. The question is will we make the required changes to begin healing the earth.
The current Season of Creation is a great time to choose the path of greater environmental sustainability. There are numerous ways each person can become better stewards of creation. I have been on this journey for a few decades, yet continue working to improve my ecological footprint. One major adjustment I suggest is to evaluate your purchases. Reduce your purchases of materials, especially short-term materials; consider the distance required for the transportation of goods and choose items with environmentally sound packaging. Purchase locally produced products when possible, including food. Farmers markets have become common and a great way to support local businesses. Do not forget to take your reusable bags.
Commit to reducing or eliminating one-use materials, such as plastic utensils, plastic bags, paper napkins, and fast foods/drinks. Invest in reusable containers of all types and avoid purchasing small packaged items, such as juice boxes, cheese sticks, etc. Make an effort to reduce the amount of garbage you create, reuse as much as possible and simply purchase less. Find ways to increase energy efficiency, reduce the use of chemicals and respect freshwater resources. Replace older light bulbs with LED lights, choose non-carbon, renewable energies for your electricity, and assess your home and vehicular energy requirements. Other sustainable choices include using public transportation, car-pooling and electing public officials who will work on solutions to the serious environmental problems we face. Reduce your use of lawn/garden chemicals, cleaning chemicals, and personal care products. Conserve and protect all freshwater resources.
In Pope Francis’ message for Season of Creation, “God’s gaze, at the beginning of the Bible, rests lovingly on his creation. From habitable land to life-giving waters, from fruit-bearing trees to animals that share our common home, everything is dear in the eyes of God, who offers creation to men and women as a precious gift to be preserved.”
ulie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~5 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work.