Green Junction: Our Physical Surroundings by Julie Peller Ph.D.

Green Junction

The physical surroundings of the celebrated events of Christianity – the birth of Jesus and the death and resurrection of Jesus – are profoundly different today than in that time of human history. Our visions and celebrations of Christmas and Easter in the present day are complicated by secular and material influences. In contrast, the promise of new life through Christ’s birth, death and resurrection is free of earthly possessions. Many suggest that the more we free ourselves from materials and possessions, the closer we can connect with the teachings of Jesus. What better season than Easter into the Summer  to simplify life and honor God’s gifts of His son and Creation.

To simplify in the midst of modern day influences, consider changes that correspond to more harmony with the natural world, God’s Creation:

  • Minimize your use of fertilizers and pesticides.  The addition of weed killer to yards and gardens can harm many other living organisms.  Fertilizer can run off into other areas of the watershed and cause harm. Sprayed fertilizers/pesticides automatically spread beyond designated areas.  
  • Sweep and rake instead of using blowers and other gadgets that require fossil fuels.
  • Grow a wildflower patch or start a garden in your yard. Encourage the growth of pollinating plants.  Find the beauty in all wildflowers, including dandelions.
  • Set out a bird fountain, plant a tree or donate to a foundation working on behalf of the earth.
  • Be mindful of the over-emphasis on green lawns, as they require precious freshwater, chemicals (which consume energy and resources) and more frequent cutting, which likely uses fossil fuels.  These are not sustainable, earth-friendly practices.
  • Compost vegetable and fruit scraps and other yard “waste.” Choose fresh foods with minimal packaging.
  • Minimize purchases/uses of disposable materials, whenever possible.  Too much waste is harming the natural world – the soil, water and air. Seek out ways to reduce garbage.
  • Choose leisure activities that renew your awe and respect of nature.


Julie 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 ~6 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

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