In the Introduction of Laudato Si, Pope Francis makes it clear that he was not the first pope to call attention to environmental destruction:

Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”.Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion. At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to “safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology”. The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement. Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”.

Saint John Paul II first wrote of this as early as 1979 in his first encyclical entitled “Redemptor Hominis“ or Redeemer of Man.

As I mentioned in prior columns, my approach to consumption of resources can be summed up with these five words: reduce, reuse, renew, reconsider, and recycle. In prior columns, I discussed reduce and reuse. This time, I’d like to introduce “reconsider”.

Reconsider could also have been “rethink” or “re-assess”. The idea is to reconsider your normal patterns towards a more sustainable lifestyle. For example, if you currently drive to work, could you consider taking the bus or riding your bike instead?

This can also be applied to potential purchases. Most mobile phone manufacturers release new models of phones annually and many people have gotten into the habit of buying the latest each year. Should you reconsider if you really need to upgrade to the latest and can delay that upgrade for an extra year or two? Similarly, do you really need that new fill-in-the-blank appliance, piece of clothing, appliance, or other cool new gadget?

What aspect of your life might you rethink to come up with a more sustainable path?

Working together, we can help take care of our common home.

Paul Litwin

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