There are several levels to reflect upon. Pope Francis consistently urges his flock to tend to the issues of climate change and its impacts on all of creation. In his message to Mrs. Carolina Schmidt, Minister of Environment of Chile, President of the COP25, Twenty-Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, Pope Francis noted the lack of action. He noted “how far words are from concrete action!” [emphasis in the original]
While praising the spirit and activism of youth in addressing climate change, he issued a challenge to the present adult generation to become actively involved. We should not, he affirmed “place the burden on the next generations to take on the problems caused by the previous ones.” The top level, then, of reflection is global in nature.
Despite this fact, there are levels of reflection and action that individuals can take. Millions of small steps do add up. In addition, small steps that we can take remind us to stay engaged in the larger effort.
Here are some suggestions to “green” this Christmas season:
- Instead of buying a cut tree to decorate the house, consider purchasing a small one that can be replanted in the spring.
- LED lighting may be substituted for incandescent. The electrical demand is significantly lower.
- Instead of using wrapping paper, place gifts in reusable cloth bags. After Christmas, these bags may be used at the grocery store in place of plastic. Indeed, my sister gave us nested grocery bags last year. We use them on every trip for groceries. We also use carryalls we get at conferences, etc.
- Try to plan the most energy efficient path when travelling to stores or when doing other errands. This reduces exhaust fumes and gas consumption.
- Consider purchasing gifts that don’t require travel of shipping. There are wonderful opportunities to donate to causes in the name of the recipient.
- Limit purchases to “Fair Trade” items that help communities that are already being impacted by climate change.
As Pope Francis admonished the leadership meeting in Madrid, it’s time for actions to take the place of words. On this, he and I certainly see eye to eye.
Photograph by Gustavo Paradiso. January 8, 2014