3. Practice gratitude and selflessness in the family.
According to Pope Francis, the seeds of abuse of God’s creation and the environment are man’s own selfishness and greed. The best place to correct these sinful desires and to learn virtue is in the family, which he explains in para. 213:
“…I would stress the great importance of the family, which is ‘the place in which life – the gift of God – can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life.’**
In the family we first learn how to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures. In the family we receive an integral education, which enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity. In the family we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressivity and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm. These simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surrounding
4. Change the way you consume products.
We as consumers have power. If we change the way we consume things, businesses will be forced to pay attention. If we as a Church, for example, stop shopping on Sundays, or stop buying unethically produced clothing, businesses will have to respond to those changes.
Pope Francis explains in para. 206:
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. This shows us the great need for a sense of social responsibility on the part of consumers. “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act”. Today, in a word, “the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life
5. Simplify your life – use only what you need.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Pope Francis asks that even those who can afford more to be prudent with their lifestyle choices and to learn to find joy in the simple life.
In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have… Even living on little, they can live a lot, above all when they cultivate other pleasures and find satisfaction in fraternal encounters, in service, in developing their gifts, in music and art, in contact with nature, in prayer. Happiness means knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us, and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer. (para. 223)
Some practical tips Pope Francis gives for simplifying your life with the environment in mind: using less heat and wearing warmer clothes, 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. (para. 211)
“There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions,” Pope Francis wrote. “…All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings.” (para.211)
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