Sustainable Living for the Common Good

All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.     ~ Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ #14

Among the 7 Laudato Si’ goals (see the 31 July ’22 parish bulletin) is “The Adoption of Simple Lifestyles,” a principle grounded in the idea of sufficiency (living with enough and not with excess) to ensure a just, dignified, and sustainable existence for all. Today “the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle” (LS #206).   Actions for living sustainably include:

  • Outdoor Initiatives
    • vegetable gardening; planting trees and shrubs;
    • restricting pesticide use entirely;
    • composting, including the composting of fall leaves for gardens or lawns;
    • using solar-powered clothes dryers (outdoor clotheslines) instead of electric or gas dryers;
    • collecting rainwater in barrels (see photo); the City of Kitchener will even reward
      you with a credit on your monthly stormwater bill;
    • curbing salt use in winter; it ends up in Shoemaker Pond along with the pesticides!
    • using more environmentally friendly transportation options like bicycles, walking,
      electric vehicles, or public transportation;
    • optimizing car travel by combining trips or carpooling;
    • maintaining a fuel-efficient vehicle and reserving driving for essential trips;
    • driving in a less aggressive manner for better environmental and fuel efficiency;
    • celebrating the 5th anniversary of Kitchener’s bylaw permitting backyard chickens
      (see bonus photo of Oreo-Cookie)
  • Indoor Initiatives
    • reducing meat consumption;
    • using a programmable thermostat for your furnace or A/C;
    • decreasing hot water heater temperatures for better heating efficiency and preventing scalding;
    • restricting the air flow of A/C and heating ducts in rooms that are not being utilized;
    • using ceiling fans as an alternative to A/C;
    • using air vent deflectors and curtains to direct heat or cold air; 
    • upgrading to higher efficiency windows and heating units; adding more insulation in homes;
    • having any faucet or toilet leaks repaired;
    • installing LED lights;
    • avoiding single use items (esp. plastics). Only 9% of all plastic waste actually gets recycled because of the high cost of recycling, coupled with the types of plastics being produced. Note that purchasing bottled water has devastating consequences for the environment and human health. 93% of purchased water bottles show signs of microplastic contamination
    • buying only essential food and curbing food waste. Second Harvest – a Canadian food rescue organization – reported in 2019 that the annual cost of avoidable food waste is about $1,766 per household.
  • Community Initiatives
    • participating enthusiastically in St. Francis’s Sept. 10th Garden Placemaking Event, featuring tours of REEP rain gardens and the Indigenous garden, created in consultation with Anishnagbeg Outreach.

~ written by Albert Sauer