God calls us to respectfully care for our planet, and these tips will help you live that!
It’s a part of Catholic teaching that may be easy to forget, but our faith teaches that we have a moral responsibility to take care of the Earth. From the beginning of time, Scripture tells us, God gave human beings the task “to cultivate and care for” our world (Gen 2:15). We are called to be “stewards of creation”—gratefully making use of the abundant natural resources God has created, but treating God’s creation with respectful care.
The Catechism echoes and expands on this Scriptural command:
“The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation … Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.” (CCC 2415)
The start of a new year is an ideal time to adopt some new habits of care and concern for our planet, or expand on what you’re already doing. And to sweeten the deal, most of these habits will save you money, too!
1Bring back the tradition of meatless Fridays
Maybe you’ve heard of “meatless Mondays,” an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. But if you stop to think about it, Catholics were giving up meat one day a week before it was cool! Traditionally, Catholics abstained from eating meat on Fridays all year round, and not just during Lent.
The rules were changed in the 1980s, allowing Catholics to choose a different form of penance on Fridays instead. This year, you might try going “old school” and giving up meat on Fridays. Not only is this a profound way to honor and remember the day of Christ’s death, but it’s good for the planet, good for your body, and cuts down on your grocery budget too!
2Grow a plant (or even a garden!)
Growing your own produce is a great way to literally care for God’s creation as you nurture young plants. Whether it’s a small pot of chives on the kitchen windowsill, a tomato plant growing on the patio, an apple tree in the yard, or a whole garden of raised beds, finding a way to grow plants to eat is a good way to steward the earth.
3Switch to doing all your laundry in cold water
This might sound like madness to those of us who are used to sorting our laundry and doing loads by color at different water temperatures, but did you know it’s perfectly fine to wash everything on cold? Not only is it perfectly fine, but it actually makes your clothes last longer and cuts down your energy bill. And just think of all the time you’ll save when you don’t sort laundry by color anymore!
4Use reusable bags for groceries, and always keep one handy
You probably know it saves money and is better for the planet to use reusable grocery bags, but it’s so easy to forget to bring them along on a shopping run! Solve this problem by storing reusable bags wherever it’s most convenient for errands—in the trunk of your car, or in your briefcase, backpack, purse or even diaper bag (these bags that fold up tiny are perfect!). That way you can access a reusable bag whenever you need it.
5Switch off lights when you leave the room
It turns out that what’s good for your energy bill is also good for the earth. Something as simple as always turning off the lights when you leave a room will really add up. You can even make a game of it, sending your kids on a “light hunt” to check that all your lights are off before you leave the house for the day.
6Drive less, and use a bike or public transportation more
Wanting to live a little healthier in 2020? Biking and walking are great for your body and the planet. Try to bike or walk anytime you need to travel somewhere that’s only a mile or two from home. You might also consider switching your commute from driving a car to riding a bus or train.
7Green your beauty routine with reusable products
Instead of buying cotton balls and makeup remover wipes every few weeks, switch to reusable, washable “cotton balls” like these super-soft bamboo rounds and this “make-up eraser” that cleanses your face with just water.
8Reduce waste at lunch with reusable sandwich bags and snack bags
Whether you bring a sack lunch to work or pack one for your kids at school, invest in some great reusable products instead of plastic sandwich and snack bags. Popular and highly rated brands include Stasher, Bumkins, and Lunchskins.
9“Go green” and a little extra classy at dinner with cloth napkins
Cloth napkins might seem fancy, but don’t just save them for special occasions! Using cloth napkins every day is great for the planet and will make dinnertime feel a little more special, too. You might check out some of the great options on Amazon (we recommend 100% cotton napkins to get the best bang for your buck!).
10Replace your bottled water with a reusable one
Plastic bottled water can be a tough habit to break. But the truth is that bottled water companies aren’t selling water; they’re selling disposable plastic bottles, which are doing no favors for the planet or your wallet. Cushion the blow of kicking the plastic water bottle habit with a vacuum insulated, stainless steel bottle, like the highly rated S’well or Hydroflask.
2020 is the perfect time to embrace our Catholic mission of caring for our planet. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong by reducing waste and replacing single-use items with reusable ones. Hopefully these tips will inspire and assist you in being a great steward of the earth in this new year!