Green Tips in Your Bulletin
Looking for a way to build awareness about the environment in your faith community, but with a Bible verse each time?
You have come to the right place! Our Green Tips can be used all year round.
Check out the monthly tips made to be published in your bulletins or newsletters so that the people in your communities can find practical and easy ways to improve their ecological habits.
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?” (Luke 10:25-26)
It’s time once again for New Year’s resolutions. Quite a noble time, really, when we look ahead to ways we can improve ourselves. Since we are people of faith, it is easy to see the world with an optimistic outlook and bring the light of God into darker areas.
Have you thought about embracing a resolution related to the environment this year? Perhaps there is something you haven’t been able to muster the courage to tackle or change. This is the perfect opportunity to put it on your to-do list. It could be recycling, composting, or buying organic vegetables or environmentally-friendly household cleaning products. It could also be about your garden or bicycle, saving water or simply turning out the lights.
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” (Matthew 5:15)
Now that we are in the dead of winter, we all have our heating systems turned up to maximum in order to keep warm. This is an opportunity to realize how much of that energy gets wasted through air leaks and poor insulation. Reducing your energy consumption will also reduce greenhouse gases. Go around your home and look for areas where air leaks may occur, such as window and door frames, electrical outlets and electric baseboards. Make sure there are no pieces of furniture blocking them. Insulate your windows with plastic film (available in all hardware stores and superstores).
You can ask for an energy audit and a specialist wiil come and suggest improvements to increase your home’s energy efficiency and lower your heating bills. Furthermore, there are subsidies available to help you perform these renovations. For information visit the Energy Efficiency section of the Natural Resources Canada website at: www.rncan.gc.ca
“And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James [the son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.” (Matthew 4:21)
In the over-consuming and materialistic society we live in, we have a tendency to throw things away rather than repair and reuse them. One good example: our clothes.
Why not think of alternatives to extend the life of a piece of clothing? If a shirt or pair of jeans is torn at a seam, take a needle and thread to fix it. If a repair calls for more expertise, you can take it to your dry-cleaner’s (or find someone in your church congregation who likes mending). And if your clothes have become too tight after the holidays, bring them to a thrift store, where they may go to a new home, and the proceeds from their sale will go to a good cause. Think about reusing objects instead of throwing them in the garbage.
“And [Abraham] planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.” (Genesis 21:33)
Even though our landscape is under a white blanket of snow at this time of year, it is not too early to start thinking about planting in the spring. The ritual of planting a tree is a good way to celebrate a christening or to symbolize the new life that comes with the Resurrection (there is no snow left at Easter!).
If you decide to plant a tree near the church, consider planting it on the south side of the building, which can help the church lower its heating and air conditioning costs. During the summer, the tree’s foliage provides welcome slade as it blocks the harsh rays of the sun. During the winter, since the tree is now bare, the sun’s rays will help to heat the building.
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)
It’s so cold out, you just want to stay in the house. But indoor air can be polluted with benzene, formaldehyde and other gases given off by certain construction materials. The solution is to adopt some air-purifying plants that even NASA is recommending for future space stations.
The dracaena is a tropical plant that is very effective for cleaning the air.
The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is easy to grow. It prefers to be hung in a sunny place.
Sanseveria trifasciata, otherwise known as the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue, likes full sun and needs only minimum watering. Perfect for beginners.
“Part of it he takes and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread.” (Isaiah 44:15)
Winter is a time of high electricity consumption. It’s important to reduce our energy use during the peak hours of 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and spread it out over other times. For instance, try to run major appliances like the dryer and dishwasher outside those hours. Just leave a little note on them for later.
Changing how you use the stove can save energy as well. Shut off the burner or the oven five minutes before the end of the cooking time to take advantage of the residual heat. Also, putting the lid on cooking pots can concentrate the heat and save 20 to 30% of the energy. Now that’s a hot tip!
“You give them drink from the river of your delights.” (Psalm 36:8)
Winter, the perfect time to warm up with a hot drink! What is the most ecological choice? Certainly, buying herbal tea in bulk is less expensive and requires less packaging. Bulk herbal teas are more fragrant as well, because they haven’t been stored for as long. More and more shops are specializing in bulk regular tea and herbal tea. Give them a try.
To brew, use an infuser spoon, a tea ball or a teapot. They are reusable and easy to find. In addition to the environmental aspect, you get to enjoy a greater variety of drinks by having camomile and vanilla one night, and camomile and linden the next!
“You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long, one cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high.” (Exodus 25:23)
What should you do when you need new furniture? First, don’t throw the old furniture in the garbage. Instead, give it to a community organization, a used clothing store or the Salvation Army. If the item is an antique, give it to an antique dealer.
When shopping for new furniture, think about its environmental footprint. Cheap furniture wears out quickly. You can give new life to a pre-owned piece of furniture or buy quality furniture that will last a long time. Try visiting a local carpenter or cabinetmaker. You may even be able to ask for your piece of furniture to be made with FSC*-certified wood, a guarantee of sustainable forestry.
* Forest Stewardship Council: www.ca.fsc.org
“And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they [that] go forth with flocks.” (Jeremiah 31:24)
Do you have a family farmer yet? The issue is about buying most of your vegetables directly from a local farmer. Imagine having baskets full of organic vegetables (delicious, fresh and pesticide-free) that could be conveniently dropped off close to your home. Thanks to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), there is most likely an outlet in your area (even your church could become one!) which would provide you with fresh fruits and vegetables, even meat, on a weekly basis. Registration usually takes place in February and March, so look for “Community Supported Agriculture” in your area.
“And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.” (2 Kings 4:42)
When planning your weekly meals, choosing fresh foods is not only beneficial for your body, but also for the Earth. We do not always think about it, but generally, a great deal of energy (and greenhouse gases) gets wasted in producing frozen meals and over-packaged foods. If you are used to buying prepared foods and meals, why not try to make meals with fresh foods instead? Your body and the Earth will thank you!
And what should we eat in the middle of winter when the vegetation is asleep? Be original by choosing more root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, turnip, etc.) in your recipies. There’s a bigger chance they come from a harvest in your area.
Does your car have salt stains from winter driving? If so, you’re probably thinking about getting it washed. You may be surprised to learn that it is better for the environment to go to a local car-wash rather than doing it yourself at home. In Canada, there are strict laws requiring garages to clean their dirty water before sending it back into the sewer system. When you wash your car yourself at home, all the harmful chemicals (soap, gas, oil and grease) go directly into the storm sewers which often discharge directly into rivers. Furthermore, getting your car cleaned at a car-wash also uses three times less water than doing it yourself with a hose at home, and you’ll also save time!
“And it was [so], when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes?” (2 Kings 5:8)
In North America, we cut down millions of trees each year in order to produce paper towels. To reduce our paper product consumption, save an old piece of clothing and use it as a rag to wipe up messes. By reusing materials, we decrease the pressure on our forests. This helps save forest ecosystems, which are an important part of the biodiversity of our planet.
“If I have seen anyone…who was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep…” (Job 31:20)
National Sweater Day, an initiative of WWF-Canada, is a fun way to learn about the importance of saving energy during the winter. The idea is to lower your thermostat as much as you can that day to experience the colder temperatures our Canadian ancestors lived with and appreciate our warm sweaters.
Heating accounts for 80% of residential energy use in Canada, and is a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If all Canadians lowered their thermostats by just 2°C this winter, it would reduce GHG emissions by about 4 megatons.
“Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?” (Judges 5:28)
Which is really more considerate, warming up the car for 15 minutes for passengers, or saving gas in order to ensure a viable climate? Idling a car engine for 30 minutes emits almost 2 kg of CO2, which is a greenhouse gas. If you warm up your car for 15 minutes twice a day for a week, you’re burning the same amount of fuel as two and a half hours of driving. It doesn’t make sense to complain about the cost of gas after doing that!
So let’s be more considerate of the atmosphere and the common good and stop idling our engines needlessly. According to the CAA, it takes only 30 seconds to warm up the engine in cold weather, and then the heat is distributed more evenly to the rest of the engine parts. Say “no thanks” to remote starters.
“Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” (Song of Songs 2:14)
Beauty product manufacturers have managed to brainwash us with the tagline “Because you’re worth it,” but are all these synthetic skin care products really good for us? They can build up and cause damage over time. Avoid BHT and BTA, p-phenylenediamine, dibutyl phtalate, phtalates and others.
Shea butter is a natural skin moisturizer. If you find organic and fair trade products too expensive, just remember that you apply less, so the jar will last longer. In addition, you’re also helping to encourage cooperatives in the South. Healthy skin, healthy communities: a win-win proposition!
“O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples!” (Song of Songs 7:8)
February 4 is World Cancer Day. Among the 93,600 Canadian women who will be diagnosed with cancer this year, most will have breast cancer, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. The daffodil is a sign of support for people living with cancer and sales of daffodils raise funds for research. The pink ribbon is a sign of support for women who are fighting breast cancer.
Breast cancer can have many causes, and a number of them are related to the environment. Atmospheric pollutants, pesticides used on food, and deodorant ingredients have all been identified as probable causes. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation recommends caution until research shows clearer results. Do try out a few natural deodorants and find the one that suits you best. They do not contain aluminum or any potentially damaging chemical substances.
Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation: www.rubanrose.org
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation: www.cbcf.org
“Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1)
When promoting environmental awareness, we cannot overlook the use of our car. More and more people use car pooling or car sharing services, and that is quite amazing. Subscribers to this community service have access to cars. Although they have to pay each time they use one of the cars, it is much cheaper, on an annual basis, to subscribe to this service. Users do not have to pay insurance premiums since these costs are shared by all users, and they don’t have to pay for repairs. It has been clearly demonstrated that people who subscribe to such car-sharing services reduce greenhouse gases by approximately 50%. If there is a parking lot with such a service close to your home, take advantage of it!
For more information, visit www.carsharing.ca .
“And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily…” (Exodus 14:25)
After using your winter tires for many months, it is now time to change them for your summer tires. Make sure to inflate them properly and to check the air pressure regularly each month! Each day, in North America, we waste over one million litres of fuel due to inadequate air pressure in our tires which forces the engine to consume more fuel when we drive.
“And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they [were] bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Exodus 15:23-24)
World Water Day (March 22) is just around the corner, and gives us an opportunity to consider certain facts about water in the world. We are quite privileged to be living in Quebec since the St. Lawrence River takes its water from the Great Lakes, where 20% of the world’s supply of fresh water may be found. It’s a water supply we can count on for farming, industry, business and our homes. But what about elsewhere?
According to the United Nations, over 1.2 billion people do not have access to clean water. Diseases caused by polluted water kill one child every 8 seconds. Since this is Lent, why not make a donation to an organization like Development and Peace, which helps the poor. You may also visit the website of the One Drop Foundation: www.OneDrop.org.
“And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep…” (Romans 13:11)
The time has come for us to demonstrate our desire to confront climate change, in the form of Earth Hour. To show our support and concern, share this information with others.
Earth Hour will take place this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. You may want to share this time with your church congregation and make it a time for prayer. A candlelight service perhaps? This event allows us to shed some light (!) on the abuse of fossil fuels and its impact on climate change (and human rights). If you are not able to hold a church gathering, you can mark Earth Hour at home by turning off your lights and any unused equipment. For further information, visit the Earth Hour website (www.earthhour.org).
“He continued until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire.” (Jeremiah 36:23)
With the advent of computers came the promise of a paperless society. But in fact we’ve never used so much paper! However, there’s still some hope for this promise. Here are a few tips for reducing your paper consumption:
- Check whether the companies you deal with offer electronic billing. You can save your bills to your computer and avoid extra paper.
- Use your laptop or a tablet at meetings and avoid printing up sheets for each participant.
- Take your name off the distribution list for the Yellow Pages directory since you look up merchants on the Internet anyway.
- Put a “No Flyers” sign on your mailbox. Imagine the amount of paper that will be saved! If you’re looking for sales, check the flyers online.
“Bring also the books, and above all the parchments.” (2 Timothy 4:13)
What can you do with your old magazines? The ecological option is to put them in the recycling bin, but you can do even better than that. Offer your old magazines to schools or daycares to use in making crafts. If you have a large collection of a specialized magazine, there may be an organization or a collector that wants it. Put an ad on eBay or Kijiji.
Finally, if you have a lot of magazine subscriptions, consider discontinuing some of them and take the community approach by reading them at your local library.
“But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood.” (Amos 6:12)
Have you ever heard of LCA? These letters stand for life cycle analysis. It is the cradle-to-grave assessment of all the impacts associated with a product. One high-impact modern invention is the cellphone.
This little communication box contains lead, mercury, arsenic, beryllium and other metals. They are the product of mining operations around the world, sometimes in conflict zones. You can appreciate why it’s important to resist the siren call of each new model, because it puts pressure on mining resources. At the end of your cellphone’s useful life, give it to an organization like Call2Recycle (call2recycle.ca).
“They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)
Wanting more power is an obsession of our times…especially when we’re in a motor vehicle like a snowmobile, jet ski, motorboat or an all-terrain vehicle. These vehicles give us freedom and the excitement of travelling at high speeds, but let’s be honest: they’re also very noisy and produce greenhouse gases.
There are alternatives: electric models are available for more and more of these vehicles. Or you can just choose to use them less often, or rent rather than own. Finally, the most environmentally-friendly and healthy option would be to choose an active method of transportation, like skiing, cycling, kayaking or sailing. That way, nature goes by more slowly, giving us more time to enjoy it!
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)
Each time we respond to Christ’s command by commemorating the Last Supper, we invite Him to be part of our lives. In doing so, the community becomes His Body. For that reason, it would be wise to take a moment and consider our choice of bread and wine.
We do not want to choose a bread produced by irresponsible agricultural practices that use pesticides and cause irreparable damage to ecosystems. Intensive agriculture also uses chemical fertilizers which the rain washes into our rivers, causing blue algae in our lakes. Since Christ is at the very centre of Creation, let us choose an organic wheat bread to honour the Body of Christ.
We do not want to choose a wine brought from a distant country, sending hundreds of kilograms of carbon into the atmosphere for each bottle, thereby contributing to climate change. Let us encourage a local winery to honour the Blood of Christ.
If your church uses disposable cups for communion, you might want to wash and reuse them, or, at least, recycle them.
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead…” (Colossians 1:15-18)
Easter is a time to rejoice and, like many Christians before us, we may contemplate nature and know that it rejoices with us! Christ makes all things new since He makes us part of His body today, for our time. If we have any doubts about whether our environmental behaviour is consistent with our faith, we need to ask ourselves: What would Jesus do? Or better yet: What does Jesus do through us?
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
On April 22, let us rejoice, for today is Earth Day! As Christians, we are not only in awe as we contemplate nature, but we also see traces of the Creator in each of His creatures. Be sure to take part in a rally in your town. Visit Earth Day Canada (www.earthday.ca/pub/) for more information.
Do a small action today and add this act of kindness to those being done by everyone else to protect the Earth, God’s work. And most importantly, give thanks to the Creator of heaven and earth!
“And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? [It is] like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.” (Mark 4:30-32)
The return of migratory birds is a rite of spring, and many people think about filling up their bird feeders for the upcoming summer season. For the birds’ welfare (and your birdwatching pleasure), follow these few tips: thoroughly clean the feeder and bird bath occasionally; give them good birdseed (with no mildew or expired) and do not place feeders close to your window, since birds may accidentally hit the glass. If the birdhouse is empty, clean it out. New tenants may be arriving soon. Finally, learn to identify species and show them to young children. Creation is full of wonders!
“He takes care in firing the kiln.” (Sir 38:30)
Wanting to keep our homes clean has helped to improve our generation’s health, but sometimes we can take things too far. Cleaning products are often more powerful than we require. And perhaps we are guilty of not wanting to use a little elbow grease. Sometimes we’d rather have a product that works like magic, but at what cost? Dangerous products: no thanks!
Three products are particularly bad for the environment: oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and drain cleaners. Use vinegar, baking soda and hot water for these cleaning challenges. Look for environmentally-friendly cleaning products. You’ll breathe easier and you won’t be putting anything harmful into the environment.
“With your utensils you shall have a trowel; when you relieve yourself outside, you shall dig a hole with it and then cover up your excrement.” (Deuteronomy 23:13)
Every time we flush the toilet, some tree branches go down the drain as well. Count the number of rolls of toilet paper you use in a year, then imagine the number of trees that are shredded just so we can wipe ourselves. Is it really necessary to cut down living trees for this purpose, or is there an alternative? Older people will remember the days when newspaper served as toilet paper. And most of the world’s people use their left hand to wipe themselves (which is why we offer to shake hands with the right!). Other people use washable cotton cloths, like the ones they use for babies.
If you want to save living trees, buy toilet paper made from recycled fibres. Cascades was a pioneer in this field by introducing a toilet paper made from 100% recycled fibres. It really is “soft on everything it touches,” including the environment.
“Then each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack.” (Genesis 44:11)
If you go back scarcely 100 years, people didn’t get huge grocery orders, they bought what they needed every day from their local merchants: the baker, the butcher, the fishmonger, the cheesemonger. Their braided baskets and mesh bags were all they needed to carry their purchases home. With the coming of supermarkets (and cars), people started shopping less often for a larger quantity of groceries, with paper bags to carry them in. But because paper bags tore easily, stores started offering plastic bags in the 1980s. We have become dependent on them, as if they have always been around. And yet, plastic lasts for a long time in the ground and in the oceans, with harmful effects on wildlife.
Fortunately, reusable bags have come back into style since the beginning of the 2000s. Reusable plastic bags are often made in Asia from recycled plastic. Locally-made cloth bags that can be folded up and slipped into a coat pocket are an excellent choice.
“She combed her hair, put on a tiara, and dressed herself in festive attire.” (Judith 10:3)
What colour is your hair? No, not what colour is it now; what is your natural hair colour? Women and many men dye their hair to cover up grey or simply to change their look. But just breathing these chemical products is enough to make us realize how strong they are. When you rinse your hair, they go down the drain and into the nearest body of water. Is there an alternative?
The solution is to use dyes containing vegetable colours. The best-known vegetable colour is henna, which can be found in many natural food stores.
“For the labourer is worthy of his hire.” (Luke 10:7)
At the beginning of May, there are flowers, the weather is warmer and it is also time for the Fair Trade Fortnight. Fair Trade allows southern famers and farm workers to receive a fair salary. When they enjoy better living conditions, families may avail themselves of health services and send their children to school (rather than keeping them on the farm from a very young age). The leading products are Fair Trade coffee and chocolate, but there are also teas, rice, spices and bananas. Look for the “Fair Trade” logo and encourage a fair business in the name of the God who loves justice.
“Rot and worms, this will be his lot.” (Sirach 19:3)
One of the most efficient ways to reduce waste is to compost. Many organizations offer seminars and workshops where we can find out how to go about composting. It’s pretty simple: you install a compost bin in a hidden area in your backyard. Things that can be composted include fruit and vegetable residues, tea bags, coffee, egg shells, leaves and all plant and garden waste. Do not compost meat or milk products as this will generate bad smells and attract vermin. Your compost will save you money because you will no longer need to purchase loam for your plants! For more information, get in touch with your municipality or your local gardening centre.
“Two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.” (Genesis 6:20)
Imagine all the animals coming toward you, for you to take care of them: mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects… This is God’s call to you today. Did you know that along side the St. Lawrence river, 80% of all the wetlands have disappeared, six animal species are extinct (including the giant penguin and the passenger pigeon), and 76 animal species are currently on the endangered list (including the beluga whale and the peregrine falcon)?
Our members of parliement are responsible for the survival of wetlands and ecosystems. Is there a river, a wooded area or a wetland which needs our protection so that it can be enjoyed by future generations? If there is a petition concerning this, do not hesitate to sign it and circulate it to other people since we must care for biodiversity, just as Noah did!
Happy Biodiversity Day (May 22)!
“…and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron…” (Joshua 17:16)
Did you know that an old car manufactured in 1995 or earlier pollutes 19 times more than a more recent vehicle? Would you like to recycle your vehicle in an environmentally-friendly way and earn cash or public transit tickets? Car Heaven is is the only national charitable vehicle recycling program managed by ARC authorized Auto Recyclers who follow a strict code of practice. Car Heaven enables people to get rid of their older, high-polluting car and donate the proceeds from their vehicle to a charitable organization of their choice. For more information, visit: www.carheaven.ca
“Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’” (Luke 19:8)
Spring cleaning means getting rid of items that could be useful to other people, including the disadvantaged. Many charities would be happy to give your castoffs a second life. Maybe your church has an annual bazaar or a rummage sale? Otherwise, garage sales can be a very pleasant activity while earning you a few dollars.
If you’re more of an Internet person, you can sell your items on eBay, Amazon or Kijiji, or even give them away on Freecycle. All these options promote reuse instead of sending things to a landfill site. If an object cannot be reused, call your city and ask how it can be recycled.
“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42)
You’ve probably seen ads in which one neighbour is using a tool, then another neighbour comes along, admires how well it works, and then declares that he’s going to get himself one too. It’s enough to make you want to say to the TV: “Why don’t you just ask to borrow it?” Instead of accumulating tons of tools for all our needs, let’s congratulate those generous neighbours who are willing to lend them to us. In exchange, we might have a tool or a service our neighbour needs. Neighbours could even chip in together to buy a lawnmower, a hedge clipper or a snow blower.
Other tools, like sanders, saws or chain saws, can be rented from an equipment rental company. That way, you don’t accumulate more stuff, it costs you less, and the money spent better supports the local economy.
In Quebec: www.simplex.ca
In the rest of Canada, search for “Equipment Rentals”
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.” (Isaiah 25:6)
“You are what you eat,” as the saying goes. And how does that relate to meat from industrially-raised livestock? If slaughterhouses had glass walls, more people would become vegetarians. But there are still family farms in Canada where the animals are well treated, as well as farms certified “organic” where the animals’ living conditions and the environmental impacts are evaluated. The livestock is fed on pesticide-free organic grain, is raised naturally, without hormones and antibiotics, and has more freedom. You’ll notice that the pieces don’t melt away during cooking and that the meat is more flavourful.
“But organic meat is so expensive,” you say? You’re right, unless you buy directly from the producer. To make the transition easier, buy organic meat once a week. To save a little more, replace the meat at one meal with legumes. Put the money you save toward buying organic meat.
“When they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen vestments.” (Ezekiel 44:17)
What is the most environmentally-friendly fabric? Clothing is usually made of cotton or polyester. On the one hand, polyester comes from the petrochemical industry; on the other, cotton is grown under very polluting conditions. It requires large amounts of pesticides and water (one pair of jeans can require 10,000 litres of water). The best thing is to buy organically-grown cotton clothing.
Other fabrics include linen, hemp cloth and bamboo. Linen comes from the flax plant, which has been grown since Biblical times, and is very absorbent. Hemp is a robust plant that was grown by our ancestors and does not need pesticides. Hemp clothing is very durable. Bamboo is an excellent substitute for cotton: it grows quickly, without pesticides, is durable and naturally antiseptic. It is particularly good for underwear and handkerchiefs.
“Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.” (Psalms 104:30)
This is Environment Week, which includes Pure Air Day. Let us begin by taking a deep breath of fresh air. This simple gesture has a great significance in our Christian tradition. Indeed, rhythmic breathing leads to deeper meditation, the grace of feeling God’s presence.
It is sad that one child in five suffers from asthma (Health and Welfare Canada) due to poor air quality in our cities. Let us also think of elderly people who are more sensitive to air quality. Be careful when the forecast calls for smog: avoid using your car and do not start a fire. By showing their care, all Christians will show where their inspiration comes from! Have you tought of looking for a Wood Stove Exchange Program?
“…he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing…” (Luke 5:4-5)
As we near World Ocean Day (June 8), it is interesting to note that fish and marine life represent the main protein source for over one billion human beings. However modern-day fishing techniques are qualified as “over-fishing” which takes a toll on many species, some of which have become endangered, thereby forcing governments to lower quotas.
When doing your grocery shopping, look for the blue MSC certification (Marine Stewardship Council). This certification guarantees that the species is not endangered and that fishing is sustainable. Often, these are less known species but nonetheless delicious. Bon appétit!
“Which [is] as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, [and] rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth [is] from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalms 19:5-7)
Summer solstice is the day with the most daylight hours. In Ottawa, there are roughly 15.5 hours of daylight between sunrise and sunset. In Iqualuit (Nunavut), it is closer to 20 hours of daylight! Many people around the world, including First Nations people, hold a celebration for this God-given gift.
For National First Nations Day (June 21), go to a pow-wow, visit a reserve, learn a legend that describes our land, but above all, pray that our nations may enjoy better relations so as to live together in peace and cooperate in protecting creation!
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29)
All summer long, many Christians practise their talents as guardians of creation by kneeling down to work the soil and tend their flowerbeds! Gardens can sometimes be a lot of work.
However, there are many native flower species (very well suited to your area’s climate) which do not require frequent watering and no major maintenance. Furthermore, native plants attract native wildlife. Milkweed attracts the Monarch butterfly and the Cape Impatiens attracts hummingbirds.
“The sun’s rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:6)
In the Bible, the sun is perceived as a living thing, obeying God by marking time. Today, we know that the sun is an enormous ball of hydrogen that produces nuclear fusion at its core and emits radiation. The radiation that reaches the Earth stimulates evaporation and warms the ground (thereby creating weather), and when it touches the green surface of a plant, this energy is turned into sugar by photosynthesis. The free energy of the sun can also be used directly for human activities.
Passive solar: this method involves using solar energy without technology, such as hanging clothes on a clothesline to dry and opening curtains in the winter to warm a room.
Thermal solar: black solar panels can heat water which is then sent to the home’s water heater, reducing the cost of running the water heater.
Electric solar: electric (or photovoltaic) solar panels convert light from the sun with 15 to 20% efficiency and thereby increase a home’s energy autonomy.
“Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.” (Acts 8:29)
In Canada, 28% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. That includes how we get ourselves from place to place. To waste less energy, we have to keep two things in mind: how we drive, and the type of car.
The best way to reduce your gas consumption is by gradually accelerating and braking. Driving with a lead foot demands more power from the engine. On the highway, keep to a speed of 100km/h, because at 120 km/h, you will consume 20% more gas.
If you’re shopping for a new car, consider fuel-efficient models, a hybrid car or, ideally, an electric car. Electric cars meet the needs of 90% of the population, since people rarely drive more than 100km in a day. And you’ll never have to visit a gas station again, because you can plug in your car at home. French: www.branchezvous.org English: www.plugndrive.ca
“Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner.” (Matthew 22:4)
When you live alone, it’s harder to get excited about cooking. That is why community (or collective) kitchens were set up. Buying ingredients as a group works out cheaper, and the group makes tasty meals that can be frozen. Participants work together and share cooking tips.
In Quebec, the Regroupement des cuisines collectives (RCCQ) is an organization that helps people set up a collective kitchen program in their community. Its objectives include food autonomy, increased confidence and social justice. Many kitchens buy their supplies directly from organic producers. According to the RCCQ, the cost of the dishes varies between $0.50 and $1.57. To find out more: www.rccq.org
“When they had gone ashore, the disciples saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.” (John 21:9)
Mmm! The enticing smell of a barbecue! This summer activity reminds us of how our ancestors cooked. Even though it is not recommended, its impact on the environment can be reduced. First, don’t barbecue on days when there is a smog alert. Use a barbecue that suits your needs, buying a small one or lighting just one burner for smaller portions. According to AQLPA,* one 20-litre bottle of propane emits about 25 kg of CO2.
The type of fuel makes a big difference. Avoid flammable liquids. Charcoal and wood create a lot of soot, and propane and natural gas aren’t much better. An electric barbecue is the most ecological option.
*Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique: www.aqlpa.com
“I come up to the height of the mountains…I will enter into the height of his border, [and] the forest of his Carmel.” (Isaiah 37:24)
Summer vacation gives us a chance to visit some of the most breathtaking parts of our country. Why not take advantage of summer to visit the Edens of North America: our national parks.
“National Parks are a country-wide system of representative natural areas of Canadian significance. By law, they are protected for public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, while being maintained in an unimpaired state for future generations.” (Parks Canada website) — Parks Canada: www.pc.gc.ca
“And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth…” (Genesis 2:5)
We seem to have a real obsession with our lawns. Indeed, all the time invested in lawn care and grooming reflects this: laying down sod or seeding, removing weeds by hand (never with herbicides), mowing, watering, fertilizing…and do all these efforts produce a harvest? No. Lawns are only for decoration!
Here is an idea: sow thyme or clover. These plants offer a very nice shade of green on your lawn. Furthermore, these plants are resistant to white worms and other parasites. They require no watering and you will never have to mow! You will be taking care of creation and you’ll be able to rest a little more!
“For as the rain cometh down…and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth…” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
For the Hebrews, the word rain (geshem) also means “substance”, specifically a divine substance which gives life. In a semi-arid environment like in Israel, it is only natural that the people would have developed such a reverence for rain. It is a blessing!
North America has 25% of the world’s supply of fresh water, serving only 5% of the world’s total population, which doesn’t mean it should go to waste. In order to reduce your fresh water consumption, install a rain barrel. Simply place the barrel under the gutter. Once elevated, water runs by gravity through your hose to water your garden. What a blessing! You can purchase a rain barrel at a hardware store or simply visit www.monjardinvert.ca.
“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)
The human being is the steward of creation, a tiller of the soil. We are called upon, throughout our life, to make this earth a fine garden. Many achieve this by beautifying their home or church. But what happens when the time comes to get rid of weeds and pests?
Our reflex, this century, is to make use of very toxic products such as herbicides and pesticides. According to Health Canada, these products deplete the earth and make us sick, particularly children. Instead of taking shortcuts, talk to botanists who will gladly share their secrets for solving any problems as naturally as possible. For instance, planting onions or parsley will protect your tomatoes!
“He moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it.” (Genesis 26:22)
Warm weather is the perfect time to check whether our type of heating is ecological. Heating with wood can be sustainable in a wooded region or rural area, but is very polluting in a city. A natural gas furnace is better than an oil furnace, but both emit about 5 tons of CO2 annually for a single-family home.
Why not consider 21st-century energy alternatives? Installing a standard heat pump costs $15,000, compared to $25,000 for a geothermal system. With the savings you reap, you can pay it off in about 10 years. If your roof faces south, it might be worthwhile installing some photovoltaic panels. While they won’t meet all your home’s electricity needs, they will provide long-term access to a free source of energy and increase your energy autonomy.
“We set sail on a ship that had wintered at the island, an Alexandrian ship with the Twin Brothers as its figurehead.” (Acts 28:11)
Ah, the joy of “messing about in boats.” If you’re thinking of buying a new boat, you can make an environmentally-friendly choice. Electric boats are quieter and do not emit any greenhouse gases. There are also solar-powered boats, which generally have an average speed of 10 km/h and offer the advantage of not damaging the flora and fauna on shore.
There are many boating choices that will preserve both the environment and your health: a pedalo, canoe, kayak, sailboat or rowboat. These types of watercraft give you an opportunity to observe nature without disturbing it, and also get your heart pumping. A great way to appreciate Creation!
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth…” (Isaiah 55:10)
Vegetable patches and flower gardens both require care, sunlight and water. There are many ways to save water. First, it is more efficient to wait until evening to water your plants. The dampness of the night and the lack of sun will allow the water to penetrate into the soil instead of evaporating.
There is also a very efficient system that respects the rate at which the ground absorbs water: the drip system, which uses much less water, about 10 times less. To install this kind of watering system, just get a perforated garden hose that distributes water at the base of the plants.
“They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.” (1 Maccabees 4:51)
Are you too hot and running your air conditioner full blast? If you want to save money and reduce your environmental footprint, there’s an easier way: close the curtains to block out the
sun, close windows during the day and open them at night. Then sit in front of a fan, which uses much less energy.
If the heat is unbearable and you really have to turn on the air conditioner, make sure your model has the Energy Star symbol; otherwise, it is an energy hog and it’s time to change it. Set it at 24 or 25°C, which should cool you off without chilling you.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.” (Genesis 12:1)
Summer vacation often means travelling. Many people like visiting new places, seeing a different style of architecture and tasting new foods. Many people also enjoy beautiful scenery and a different climate. But do the economic benefits reach local residents?
Think of those “all-inclusive” travel packages to most sun destinations. Most of the time, multinational hotel chains benefit and nothing goes to local communities. Furthermore, most of these hotels consume so much fresh water that very little is left for local communities. How can we help? Through fair tourism! Your visit will benefit both yourself and local communities.
For more information on fair tourism, visit: www.unep.org/greenpassport/
“But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.” (John 21:4)
How far away is the closest shore to your church? Would you be confident enough to go swimming in the water there? Could you celebrate a baptism in the river like John the Baptist did?
Some shorelines are quite pitiful to look at, with all the garbage that has been dumped on them. Why not take the opportunity to organize a shore clean-up for ecological and spiritual reasons? Your church could sign up for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup held each year and your group could receive all the necessary tools and supplies for a successful day! Although we might not see Him, Jesus would be standing by us on the shore.
Visit the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup website: www.shorelinecleanup.ca
“I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: [thy] breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou [wast] naked and bare.” (Ezekiel 16:7)
Is it time to mow your lawn? What will you be using? A mower with a gas engine? An electric, wireless mower? An electric mower with a cord? A mechanical roller mower? A goat? Tell me how you plan to mow your lawn and I will tell you if you are protecting Creation.
Not only should we question ourselves on how our mower works, but on what we do with the cut grass. Many people go to great lengths to stow everything away in a garbage bag. A good alternative would be to leave the cuttings on the ground. That way, it will fertilize the ground and you will have a plush lawn.
“And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony [were] in his hand: the tables [were] written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other [were] they written.” (Exodus 32:15)
Here is a most interesting detail: the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were given were written on both sides. Therefore, the practice of double-sided printing goes far back in our Judaeo-Christian tradition! Double-siding printing can save paper at church, at home, at work and at school.
As school will be starting soon, it is time to start shopping for your school supplies. Try to reduce waste by reusing as much as possible. An old schoolbag can be decorated, pens, sharpeners and rulers can all be reused. These small choices save money and help protect Creation.
“But the cloth, warp or woof, from which the spot disappears when you have washed it, shall then be washed a second time, and it shall be clean.” (Leviticus 13:58)
A new invention has just hit the market, and it’s both ecological and economical. It replaces the dryer during the summer and is more gentle on clothing. It makes clothes smell fresh, like the outdoors. It’s called lateral garment suspension…or more commonly known as “the clothesline”. All joking aside, our parents and grandparents have long dried their clothes on a clothesline.
In addition to the ecological aspects, hanging out your laundry is good exercise for the arms, it’s relaxing, and it’s an opportunity to talk to the neighbours. When it’s windy, the result is better than ironing. A final tip: you can bring the experience indoors in winter by using a drying rack.
“And he brought me to the entrance of the court; I looked, and there was a hole in the wall.” (Ezekiel 8:7)
Time to freshen up the house? Make an environmentally-friendly choice by buying a non-VOC* latex paint. The other environmentally-friendly solution, and a very economical one to boot, is Boomerang recycled paint, available at Rona stores.
When cleaning your brushes, use a container instead of rinsing them in the sink. Otherwise, the paint will end up in the waste water system. Remember, leftover paint and empty paint cans are considered hazardous domestic waste. A number of collection centres and stores will accept them.
* VOC: Volatile organic compounds, solvents with toxic vapours.
“A chariot could be imported from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver.” (1 Kings 10:29)
Having a car gives us greater mobility. Here are a few tips for reducing your car’s impact on our environment. The following problems increase fuel consumption:
– an engine problem
– improper wheel alignment
– low tire pressure
If you keep your car in good condition, it will last longer, which can save you a lot of money. Keeping it out of the car graveyard also helps the environment.
“The clever do all things intelligently, but the fool displays folly.” (Proverbs 13:16)
Do you have any aerosol sprays in your home? If you do, be sure to read this. At one time, we condemned aerosols because they put CFCs* into the atmosphere, which destroy the ozone layer. CFCs have been replaced by HFCs**, a substance that does not attack the ozone layer, but is still harmful to health and for the climate. Many products come in aerosol spray cans: insecticides, paints, deodorants, hair spray, shaving cream, whipped cream and more. These cans cannot be put in recycling bins because of the risk of explosion.
Avoid aerosol spray cans like the plague. The solution is to choose a vaporizer if possible, or a solid or liquid alternative.
* CFCs: chlorofluorocarbons
** HFCs: hydrofluorocarbons
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)
This scripture is at the heart of Christian ecology. In the beginning, a human being is placed in the Garden of Eden (which means delicacy). As the garden’s farmer, he harvests his environment’s resources and sows it again. As the garden’s keeper, he makes sure that the beauty and fertility of creation will be maintained for the future. Here, at the very beginning of the Holy Scriptures, is the institution of sustainable development!
Many churches throughout the world (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant) celebrate the Care of Creation Day (September 1). They give thanks to the Lord for the generosity of His creation and pray for the wisdom and courage to tend it well. Have a great Creation Day!
“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.” (Luke 6:43-44)
Here is an ecological proof: we know a tree by its fruits. But we must acknowledge the fact that this generation would not be able to tell a pear tree from a cherry tree, peach tree or plum tree, not to mention bushes like the raspberry, blueberry and blackberry.
A fruit tree or bush planted in your yard will provide an unforgettable learning experience for children as well as a harvest to feed the family. Think about the pies you will be able to enjoy. Think about making jam to preserve the harvest. You will be living in a delectable garden!
“And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.” (Luke 24:13-15)
The first means of transportation for humankind was by foot. Many Biblical characters traveled on foot: Moses, Elijah, Jonah, the Apostles. Down through the centuries, many pilgrims have travelled to Jerusalem and Compostella. Like the disciples on their way to Emmaus, they have met God on their path.
Let us rediscover the value of walking during World Car-free Day (September 22). Would it be possible to walk to your church and hear the birds singing on Sunday morning? If you are unable to walk, would you be able to carpool with others?
Seniors: tell your grandchildren how much you walked when you were young!
“…all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling [fig] from the fig tree.” (Isaiah 34:4)
It’s part of the cycle of nature: after giving us shade throughout the summer, leaves fall in autumn. Leaves are a gift that fall from the sky and are precious. Here are some things you can do with them:
run over them with your lawn mower to feed your lawn;
save them for your compost;
put your leaf bags out for pickup by your city to be turned into compost.
These actions help reduce the greenhouse gases generated by organic material decomposing in landfills. In other words, this is changing the world, one leaf at a time!
“Put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time.” (Jeremiah 32:14)
When you buy yogurt, do you buy the big container or six small ones? Do you buy a brick of cheese or the snack-size pieces? A big box of cookies or mini-Oreos in small individual bags? Fruit juice in a large bottle or juice boxes? Not only are wrapped products more expensive, the extra packaging creates a lot of garbage. Garbage doesn’t just disappear into another dimension; it gets buried a few kilometres from where you live.
There’s an easy solution: buy the larger size, then divide it up and put it in reusable containers. It’s less expensive and more ecological. Start doing it at home, then export this practice to your church or workplace. For coffee, suggest replacing individual milkers and bags of sugar with bulk containers.
“While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them.” (Luke 24:15)
Back to school is a great time to consider the ideal method of transportation: carpooling. The simple question is: are there people going in the same direction? The first try can be among neighbours, with an agreement to take turns or share the cost of gas. Everyone wins, because they save money, and fewer cars on the road means less pollution.
There are also online carpooling programs. If you’re a driver, write down your next departures and arrivals. If you’re a passenger, you can choose the next departure that suits your needs. For instance, you can travel between Montreal and Quebec City for less than $20. And as it was for the disciples on the Emmaus road, it’s also a way to bring hope to your fellow travellers. www.carpool.ca and www.carpoolingnetwork.com
“He ate some of the fish, and kept some to be salted.” (Tobit 6:5)
Did you have a plentiful harvest this year? If so, you can extend the pleasure of eating locally year-round. Berries like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries can be frozen. But the freezer uses energy and can fill up quickly, so that’s why our ancestors made preserves.
Depending on the texture of the fruits or vegetables, you can make jam or pickles. Try canning tomato sauce or salsa, or pickling vegetables like cucumbers, beets, onions and peppers. Homemade fruit jam is always a treat. If you want to eat organic fruits and vegetables, it’s much cheaper to buy a large quantity and then can them. www.homecanning.com
“In front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.” (Revelation 4:6)
Glass was already known during antiquity, but plastic has pretty much taken its place for all our containers. Plastic is a product of the petrochemical industry and is less recyclable than glass, since it degrades during the recycling process. But glass is infinitely recyclable and comes from an inexhaustible source. Let’s be honest: we’re never going to run out of sand!
Try to buy glass containers when possible when you’re shopping for jam, peanut butter or ketchup, for example. Some small dairy producers offer milk and cream in returnable bottles. An old idea that’s new again!
“And he said unto them, This [is that] which the LORD hath said, To morrow [is] the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake [that] which ye will bake [today], and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.“ (Exodus 16:23)
In this fast-paced society we live in, adults and children often have lunch far from home and that is why it is so easy to eat frozen and over-packaged meals. Why not try to plan meals ahead of time in order to have leftovers for lunch the following day? You could prepare a soup, a stew or pasta, store it in reusable containers and then reheat them for lunch. Bon appétit!
“And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, [which is] in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.” (Exodus 23:16)
At Thanksgiving, we understand that harvest time in this scripture from Exodus was also a time to celebrate and give thanks. This is at the very root of our faith history. As we give thanks for the harvest and our work, let us ask ourselves how our food choices might have an impact on creation. Was our food grown in our area or has it required a lot of transportation to get here? Have farmers been paid a fair price for their crops or are they poor and exploited? Are these fruits and vegetable grown organically, or have they been sprayed with pesticides and chemical fertilizers?
If these questions concerning responsible food are of interest to you, remember it should be local, organic or fair trade. If you would like to sign up for organic baskets of produce, search for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in your area.
Here are Jesus’ instructions: “And commanded them that they should take nothing for [their] journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in [their] purse.” (Mark 6:8)
Perhaps Jesus was not thinking about paper or plastic when he told his disciples to go taking nothing with them. However, what we take with us to carry our groceries does make a difference when it comes to God’s Creation. Over one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year after having swallowed miscellaneous plastic articles or after having been caught in plastic.
Why not take a reusable bag, sold in most grocery stores or community organizations? The marine fauna will thank you!
“My son, eat your honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to your taste.” (Proverbs 24:13)
Now that Hallowe’en has come and gone, we are left with many bowls filled with candy. Although it can be hard to find local products to satisfy our sweet tooth, we can at least buy from companies that sell chocolate made with cocoa grown in conditions that respect the environment and provide farmers with a good quality of life.
Large chocolate manufacturers unfortunately are not known for respecting the environment or respecting producers, but companies like Camino have set very tough standards in this regard. Do look for the fair trade logo on the chocolate products you buy. If your grocery store does not carry these products, make sure to ask them to stock up.
“We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
Have you been raking leaves and enjoying the fresh air? Now it’s time to get rid of your leaves ecologically. You have several choices:
– add them to your compost, since they are rich in carbon.
– use them as mulch to protect your plants and the foot of trees for the winter.
– run over them with your lawn mower to shred them and enrich the soil.
– if you don’t want to keep them on your property, your municipality probably picks them up.
“No one tears a piece from a new garment and sews it on an old garment.” (Luke 5:36)
In our disposable society, we have practically forgotten the usefulness of cleaning cloths. Ask a child to clean a spill with something other than a paper towel and he may tell you that it can’t be done. Not only are trees cut down to manufacture paper towels, but the paper towels also generate waste that accumulates at the dump.
Why not turn your old sheets, towels and material into reusable cloths? Not only are you doing something good for the environment, you’ll also save on buying paper towels. Proof that being ecological is also economical.
“Although I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink.” (2 John 1:12)
Education, work and even volunteering generate a great deal of paper. The main objective is to reduce the quantity of paper used by not printing certain documents, printing on both sides of the paper and writing on scrap paper. When you do have to print, use recycled paper.
According to Cascades, one ton (the annual amount of paper used by four classes) of 30% postconsumer recycled paper saves five trees, 147 kg of garbage and 13,906 litres of water. A concrete way to reduce your environmental footprint.
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God.” (2 Corinthians 2:15)
Do you like good smells? If you use air fresheners or you like burning incense, think about their impact on your health and the environment. These products generally contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These synthetic solvents are petroleum products and are potentially carcinogenic. Something smells fishy here.
“There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” (John 4:7)
Water is a recurrent theme in the Bible. In our Christian tradition, we use water to baptize. Therefore, it would be appropriate and consistent with our faith to treat water with respect, like a sister.
A good way to take care of this precious resource is to avoid drinking bottled water and choose tap water instead. When drinking bottled water, the “energy cost of the life cycle of this bottle is equivalent, on average, to empty a quarter of the contents of this bottle in petroleum.” (Pacific Institute). Let us put an end to this dependency and start drinking the water from our taps for free!
“[As] cold waters to a thirsty soul, so [is] good news from a far country.” (Proverbs 25:25)
Using cold water to wash your laundry is also good news for your electricity bill! You may save approximately 80% of all energy costs for your washer by using cold water instead of hot water when washing your laundry. For an ordinary washing machine, this represents $220 in savings per year. And if your old washing machine needs to be replaced, choose a front-loading model since it requires much less water and electricity to run.
“Lo, [then] would I wander far off, [and] remain in the wilderness.” (Psalms 57:7)
The author of this psalm probably did not have airplanes on his mind when he dreamed of wandering afar, but air traffic breaks records each year, despite the high price of gasoline, which continues to rise on the stock exchange. Unfortunately, carbon emissions from airplanes have twice the impact on global warming due to the altitude planes fly at. Also, have you ever considered the amount of fuel required for take-off?
If you must travel by plane, visit www.planetair.ca to assess the pollution this flight will be making. You can even purchase carbon credits which will help finance cleaner technology replacement projects in poor countries. Otherwise, why not plan your vacation closer to home? There is plenty of breathtaking scenery to marvel at.
“The door posts, and the narrow windows, and the galleries round about on their three stories, over against the door, cieled with wood round about, and from the ground up to the windows, and the windows [were] covered;” (Ezekiel 41:16)
Just as our windows let air and sunshine into our homes during the summer season, they may also be responsible for major heat loss during the winter. Actually, up to 25% of a home’s heat escapes through windows.
Next winter, install plastic film inside your windows to eliminate heat loss. This plastic film is easy to find in many renovation superstores and only takes a few minutes to install. You’ll save a lot of money on your heating costs and your house will be more comfortable!
“But the cloth, warp or woof, from which the spot disappears when you have washed it, shall then be washed a second time, and it shall be clean.” (Leviticus 13:58)
Dry cleaning is a great invention for getting clothes clean without water. However, dry cleaning uses perchloroethylene (PERC), a synthetic petroleum product that is very polluting. It is one of the most widespread contaminants of air and underground waters in Canada. Since 2000, PERC has been classified as a toxic substance, since it kills plants and causes cancer. Furthermore, pregnant women are not authorized to work in dry cleaning businesses.
Fortunately, some dry cleaners are opting for ecological products. Others are making a strong effort to recover the hazardous residue and recycle it. Find the ecological dry cleaner nearest you at www.greenearthcleaning.com
“The caravans turn aside from their course; they go up into the waste, and perish.” (Job 6:18)
The history of Canada would not have been written without the train, which enables us to cross huge distances. Starting in the 1950s, more people began taking the bus, and more recently, going by air for interprovincial travel. According to a study by Allianz, trains emit 46g of CO2 per km per person, compared to 67g for a bus, 125g for an average car and 130g for a commercial airliner.
In addition to its ecological edge, the train gives you a chance to relax because both your hands are free. You have enough legroom to move around easily, and you can use your telephone and the Internet. The commuter train is convenient in big cities, and Via Rail is practical for travelling between cities. You can save a lot by reserving your ticket in advance. www.viarail.ca
“I will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy.” (Isaiah 1:25)
Styrofoam is a wonderful invention for heat insulation, and is sold at a very affordable price. The price may be affordable, but the environmental cost is very high. First, there are few places that recycle styrofoam because it is mainly composed of air bubbles, so the cost of transporting it
exceeds the value of its mass. Also, expanded polystyrene is not biodegradable, meaning that it remains in the ground for hundreds of years.
Knowing this, you need to have the courage to speak up and say “no” to styrofoam as often as possible. Vegetables in trays at the grocery store: no, thank you. Coffee in a styrofoam cup: no thanks. That way, people will start using alternatives that don’t cause harm to Creation.
“Doing wrong is like sport to a fool, but wise conduct is pleasure to a person of understanding.” (Proverbs 10:23)
To entertain Canadian children, do we have to buy toys made in Asia? They are often manufactured using polluting processes, not to mention the transportation involved. Let’s give our children educational toys that will help them discover all the beauty of Creation: binoculars, telescopes, microscopes, magnifying glasses, bicycles and other toys that encourage them to play outside.
Give them books on trees, birds, rocks and mushrooms. There are also CD-ROMs that have science games. Take them to the museum, the zoo or a national park. If they want to play a game, a number of Canadian companies offer ecological games. That way, everyone wins.
“And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
We are now in Advent, on our way to Christmas, when the Messiah will humbly come to us, wrapped in swaddling clothes. One of our Christmas traditions is to offer beautifully wrapped presents to people we love. Unfortunately, this tradition involves cutting down tens of thousands of trees to make wrapping paper (which gets discarded afterwards).
This year, why not find alternatives for wrapping our presents, such as newspaper or old posters. Some people use towels, which can be reused; others prefer using gift bags which can also be conveniently reused later on. When wrapping your gifts this year, be creative to prevent depleting our forests.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
As we near Christmas, shopping intensifies, parking lots and shopping centres are crowded. Many people are discouraged and no longer take pleasure in giving gifts. Environmentally-oriented people often feel bad giving so many presents, knowing the impact this consumerism and depletion this will have on the environment.
When shopping for a gift for someone you love this year, ask yourself:
Does this person really need this gift? It is useful and meaningful?
What will be the environmental impact of buying this gift? (Wrapping, transportation from where it was made, materials involved in making the item, etc.)
What will be the social impact of buying this gift? (Workers’ conditions, local economy, assistance to excluded people, organization financing, etc.)
“Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.” (Luke 14:16-17)
Jesus often used the image of a banquet or a celebration to make us understand how God offers us a life filled with joy. As we celebrate Advent Sundays, during which Christmas joy begins to fill us, let us reflect on how this banquet is a testimony to our love for God the Creator.
During the holiday season, let us maintain a spirit of simplicity and sustainability. Serve food on reusable plates. If you are serving local or organic products, make sure your guests know about it. Finally, keep your Christmas decorations and reuse them next year.
During this holiday season, let’s also give a present to God’s Creation !
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” (Jeremiah 31:31)
It’s the time of year to make “new covenants”. We are once again the witnesses of the Lord’s coming among us as we make our New Year’s resolutions. We are also invited, this year, to make a new covenant (alone or in community) with God, the Creator of the universe. Start by visiting www.myfootprint.org to better identify changes you can make to live more harmoniously with your environment. Let us commit ourselves to becoming true guardians of Creation.
“The tree was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its branches.” (Ezekiel 31:7)
What kind of Christmas tree should you buy: artificial or natural? If you plan to keep the same artificial tree for at least 15 years, then having a reusable one can be a good idea. Otherwise, a cultivated natural tree offers the benefit of having absorbed CO2 during its lifetime and has not been removed from a forest, disturbing its ecological niche. A number of cities will pick up these trees in early January and turn them into mulch. The most environmentally-friendly solution is to have a small potted evergreen. It will provide some greenery during the winter and can be transplanted outside in the spring for reforestation. A school, park or church may thank you!
“He took…the gold decoration on the front of the temple [and] stripped it all off.” (1 Maccabees 1:22)
Outdoor Christmas decorations are a cheery sight in the dark days of December, but how can you use them in an environmentally-friendly way? First, avoid excess, especially in terms of consuming electricity. Inflatables require a great deal of energy, and so does having too many lights. Opt for a reasonable number of LED (light-emitting diode) Christmas lights, which consume 90% less energy than a light bulb with the same brightness. Also, be sure to turn off your lights when you go to bed or install a timer that will shut them off no later than midnight.
“Come home with me and dine, and I will give you a gift.” (1Kings 13:7)
Does your family live in plenty or in want? Christmas carolling from door to door to collect food is an old tradition that grew out of the medieval custom of wassailing. Many Catholic parishes have maintained this tradition of sharing, and other churches as well, including the Salvation Army. “White Gift Sunday” is typical of Protestant churches. Children are asked to take a toy in good condition that they don’t play with anymore and wrap it in white paper. The toys collected on one Sunday during Advent will then find a home with less well-off children. Maybe it’s time for you to give away some of the things you don’t need anymore?
“In the labours of her hands, unfailing wealth.” (Wisdom 8:18)
Imagine our modern world without electricity. It’s impossible! Which small appliances are the most ecological: ones with electrical wires or ones that run on batteries? A small appliance plugged into a wall socket has a smaller impact on the environment than one that’s battery operated. Try to limit the number of wireless devices you buy. If you prefer a battery-operated device (e.g. alarm clock, razor, camcorder, telephone), use rechargeable batteries in it. Even though the initial purchase price is higher, in the long run the savings are substantial. When the day comes that you have to throw out your batteries, make sure you take them to a special battery recycling bin. The acid and heavy metals from the old batteries will be used to make new ones. It’s a sustainable practice that means this wealth is almost unfailing.