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I first heard the word “stewardship” back in ninth grade from my math teacher, a religious sister, recycling champion, and ardent Catholic. The idea of environmental stewardship as caring for the earth because it has been entrusted to us resonated with me. I too became a zealous recycler, depositing anything made with paper, plastic, glass, or metal in the blue bin regardless of whether or not it was stamped with the little triangle of arrows.
Environmental stewardship has been on my mind recently. Areas such as the Boundary Waters and the Great Lakes are facing the very real threat of being destroyed by pollution. While I’m not on here to make political claims or get too crazy on ya, I do want to share with you the way I strive to love the earth as a Catholic. Think about the ways you care for our natural home, too, so you can share them with me in the comments below.
Environmental Stewardship In Daily Life
Know Thy Place, Girl
Let me introduce you to a little phrase I got hammered over the head with in the Montessori world: freedom and discipline. I’m all about it.
The idea is that true freedom consists in following the natural order. We are free if we know our place in the cosmos and act accordingly. Free to swim in beautiful lakes, free to breathe clean air, free to eat carrots from the dirt, free to pursue our life’s calling. When we go against that order, we don’t have those freedoms.
And what is our place in this world?
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen. 1:28)
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the sky and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10)
So we have a place of authority and stewardship in this world, but it is given to us by the one who holds in His hand the life of every creature.
This is a huge responsibility.
This is a gift.
This is our place in the world, and if we stick to it, we will know freedom.
So our place in the world is not strictly utilitarian, but we’re also not just another one of the species that inhabits the earth. We have a job.
Here’s how I try to do my job.
1. Support Sustainable Alternatives
“When making use of natural resources, we should be concerned for their protection and consider the cost entailed – environmentally and socially – as an essential part of the overall expenses incurred.” -Benedict XVI
As stewards of the earth, it is our job to care for it. We should use its resources in such a way that we don’t destroy them. When we know our place in this world, we can gratefully take from it in a way that enhances creation.
This one is kind of exciting. I love finding out about journals handmade in Nepal, the paper taken from a plant in such a way that it actually promotes new growth. I love discovering clothing brands that use beautiful, natural, sustainable fabrics. I love hearing about farmers who promote a combination of sustainable tradition and sustainable technological advances. I love supporting them whenever possible.
I’m obsessed with solar power.
It’s exciting to know that we can live simple, rich, sustainable lives, working in harmony with the earth, and bettering it. If you know of any sustainable products or companies that you love, please let me know in the comments!
“The integrity of creation requires the adoption of sober and responsible lifestyles, especially toward the poor and future generations.” -Benedict XVI
Let me play a song for you. Good ol’ Jack Johnson and The Three R’s Song.
I love it.
Now you don’t really need to listen to the rest of this, since Jack gave away the rest of my list, but let me just finish what I started here.
As tempting as it is to go all crazy and buy all this hip sustainable stuff, really my goal is to dramatically reduce the amount of stuff I consume. Not to zero (that’s where the sustainable alternatives come in) but to less. I’m trying to buy less clothing, use less electricity, less packaged foods, etc.
Resources are there for us to use, but to use with intention and moderation.
How do you reduce?
“The order of creation demands that a priority be given to those human activities which do not cause an irreversible damage to nature, but which instead are woven into the social, cultural and religious fabric of the different communities. In this way, a sober balance is achieved between consumption and the sustainability of resources.” -Benedict XVI
And yet another one of my neurotic habits gets a defense. I almost can’t throw away a plastic bag. I’ve been asked not to wash, dry and put away plastic cutlery in with the real cutlery. So sometimes reusing can get a little out of hand, but here are a few ways I’ve been able to make it work.
- I buy certain foods from the bulk bins at Smiths (oatmeal, bay leaves, etc) and I love that they provide zipper bags, because they are soooo reusable. We haven’t bought plastic bags in months. Sure it’s nice to pull a shiny brand new Ziplock out of the box, but it’s been a really simple transition to washing, drying, and re-using our bulk bags.
- We bought a few reusable shopping bags, and I mostly remember to bring them with me. If I don’t, then the plastic grocery bags become our trash bags. Saving the earth, baby.
- I cut up old towels and t-shirts to use as rags, and no longer buy paper towel.
- Not sure if this counts as reusing exactly, but I’ve been making broth with vegetable scraps.
- Peanut butter jars, coconut oil jars, honey jars, etc etc make very functional lunchware for bringing leftovers to work.
- Bigger jars work well for storing bulk foods. Here’re five other reusable storage containers.
- I haven’t purchased from this site yet, but I love that Patagonia allows you to buy their used products for a good price!
What are your favorite reuse hacks?
“The relationship between individuals and or communities and the environment ultimately stems from their relationship with God. When man turns his back on the Creator’s plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order.” -Benedict XVI
Aside from the obvious recycling, I have also become very into composting. We’re lucky enough to have lived with chickens most of our married life, and I think they are as excited about composting as I am. I have gotten much better at remembering to take the compost out, in part due to the fact that those happy chickens flocking about have me feeling something along these lines.
Anyways, I am always on the lookout for products made from recycled materials. This water bottle is made from recycled aluminum, in the USA, by veterans.
We also buy recycled tp. 🙂
And while I can’t currently justify actually purchasing it, check out this suh-weet apron made from sails and climbing rope.
Looking back at my list, it really seems that I could do a lot more to be a good steward. But this is where I’ve started, and I’ll just keep going forward!
How do you show love to our earthy home?? Let me know in the comments.
P.S. The Amazon links on this page are the only affiliate links, but all the links are to cool stuff I wanted to share with you! Feel free to check out my affiliate policy here.