Pope Francis in LS202 states that many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. Since the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. The Pope continues that a change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products. They prove successful in changing the way businesses operate forcing them to consider their environmental footprint and their patterns of production. When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently. Education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed,showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices.
We all are very familiar with the list:
Avoid Waste, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Use recycled and recyclable materials whenever possible. Refuse single use plastics such as cling film, straws, plastic cups, plates or cutlery. Switch to a reusable water bottle/ travel cup. Use recycled paper. Use more of your page when typing letters or other documents. Review the default margin settings on your computer to use more of the page. Compost your garden and food waste. Do an energy audit of your home and then monitor and improve efficiency of your energy use. Explore how more use could be made of renewable energy sources. These are only some of the practical actions we might consider taking. Every action taken in favour of a just and more sustainable environment, no matter how small has an intrinsic value.