It is always a good time to engage in acts of kindness. While we typically view these in the context of one another, acts of kindness can extend to earthly care. Pope Francis describes Mother Earth as the poorest of the poor, due to the harm humans have inflicted upon her. Given his warnings and those of scientists and so many others, learning about and paying attention to the damage done to nature are means to engage in acts of kindness for creation.
Reducing purchases of fast food or selecting food vendors that minimize throwaway packaging may be considered an act of kindness to mother earth. Most take-out foods generate waste. In the purchase of one hamburger at a fast food restaurant, the throwaway portion is the wrapper, bag and napkin. Wrappers are one of the top five types of waste found in the world’s oceans. Fast food packaging makes up a significant amount of pollution on land.
One poll this year indicated that 81% of customers are concerned about the pollution from quick service restaurants. In response, Burger King, Starbuck, Tim Hortons and McDonalds launched reusable packaging pilot programs in 2021, where customers use and return sandwich containers and cups. A company called Loop is working with a number of businesses to institute reusable containers.
Taking part in responsible recycling is another act of kindness to the natural world. The United States has the lowest recycling rate of advanced nations. Less than 10% of recyclable materials are sent through the recycling stream. Many types of paper, plastic, glass and metal materials are recyclable.
In the bigger picture, acts of kindness to the world we share (Our Common Home) become acts of kindness to one another.
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.