Inspired by Laudato Si
Lynn McWilliams joined Jesuit Missions in July 2018 as our Outreach Coordinator. She is using this Season of Creation to reduce her single use plastic inspired by Pope Francis’ teachings in Laudato Si.
Not long ago my daughter had some friends over for a meal and a couple of the girls helped to prepare it. Or should I say Hannah helped with the preparation. Claire, on the other hand, is not a kitchen person. Her one attempt at making popcorn in a microwave ended in disaster when the microwave exploded. The day of the dinner party Claire was asked to help by covering the cheese board with cling film. Bad idea! A couple of days later when I went to use the cling film it took me at least 15 minutes, some Inspector Clouseau type contortions and a pair of scissors to reclaim the cling film. However, it set me to thinking about all the innovations which are part of household life today, but which weren’t around when I was a child. The list is long. Waxed paper and aluminum were used instead of cling film, or the ever-convenient plate over a bowl. Milk came in glass bottles, as did shampoo, mouthwash and deodorant. Orange juice was either straight from the orange or came frozen in cardboard and aluminum cylinders. Water was from the tap. Brush handles were made of wood and pails from tin. The list goes on. It is remarkable how reliant on plastic the world has become in just a few decades. While much in the news recently, plastic is only one of the changes that has contributed to environmental pollution in those decades. Transportation and industry have also changed and have played their part in creating the climate crisis.
Like many, when it comes to trying to be more environmentally aware, my intentions are good, but I backslide, and new good habits succumb to laziness. I understand that psychologists suggest that it takes six weeks to either break or form a habit. So, during this season of creation I want to revisit some of my family’s previous choices and try to take the next six weeks to get the good habits back on track. In our home we are relatively conscientious about recycling. Now I want to reduce the amount of plastic that needs to go in the recycling bin. So, out with the cling film and bottled water and in with re-usable containers and the old strategy of a plate over the bowl. I am something of a coffee addict so it’s reusable coffee mugs and water bottles. Going for some retro elements to my approach to the household may seem a paltry offering in a much larger sea of troubles. Yet I am convinced that real change begins in the small actions of individuals. It is what makes communities so dynamic.
In his Encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis discusses the urgent need to address the causes of climate change and the current environmental crisis. The actions of one individual family may seem small, but what begins to happen when many families begin to get informed and take action? What happens when we speak to our lawmakers and say that we want change and that we are willing to make sacrifices. The current environmental crisis is impacting on the most vulnerable people on the planet now. The scientific community has established that climate change is real. Changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and deforestation are key issues. We can sometimes forget that what we do makes a difference. What we do has the ability to affect change. After all, think of that small group of Galileans 2000 years ago. Inspired to act by an itinerant preacher they changed the world forever!