What can we do to solve environmental problems?

My thread, “How can we mitigate global warming?” ( forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=656903 ), was closed due to lack of activity, so I thought I’d start one with a broader topic, even though as one starts mitigating anthropogenic global warming (AGW), they realize they are mitigating a host of other environmental (and other) problems, as well, and AGW is sort of an “umbrella issue” bec of that. So even if one does not accept that AGW is real, there are many things they can do to mitigate other environmental problems that also mitigate AGW.

I think people who have turned to God and left more serious sins behind will be looking for further ways to improve spiritually and please God. I know JPII and BXVI have repeatedly called on us to mitigate environmental problems, so I’d like this thread to be about ways we can address those calls.

It helps to pray to God for solutions, and also to say little prayers while implementing solutions, no matter how tiny, like “My God I offer Thee this day, all I think and do and say, to unite it with what on Earth was done by Jesus Christ Thy son” or sing “Thank you oh my father for giving us your son, and leaving your spirit 'til the work on earth is done.”

I know the below mentioned good deeds are extremely tiny, just a drop in the ocean, but as Mother Teresa would say, our love makes them infinite, and St. Therese teaches us the “Little Way.”

Here’s a list for starters (some are more feasible than others, and most save money):

USE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY
[LIST]
*]Buy wind generated electricity from companies like GREEN MOUNTAIN, greenmountain.com
*]solar panels, wind generators, small-scale hydro-generators, cogenerate
[/LIST]
REDUCE consumption - buy things that last

CONSERVE ENERGY:
[LIST]
*]turn off lights not in use
*]Insulate home
*]passive solar home
[/LIST]
DRIVE LESS:
[LIST]
*]run multiple errands
*]live close to work/school
*]off engine in drive-thrus (and order the veggie burger – see Eco-Foods below)
*]cycle, walk, bus
[/LIST]
Buy ENERGY EFFICIENT:
[LIST]
*]compact fluorescent & LED bulbs
*]car, hybrid, or EV
*]appliances
[/LIST]
CONSERVE WATER:
[LIST]
*]low-flow showerhead, toilet
*]off water while brushing teeth
*]don’t water lawn, or water early morning or in the evening, and not on windy days
*]fix leaks
*]Xeriscape (drought resistant plants)
[/LIST]
REUSE, avoid throwaways. Use:
[LIST]
*]back side of paper
*]ceramic cups, cloth napkins & diapers
*]artificial Christmas trees
[/LIST]
RECYCLE & BUY RECYCLED PRODUCTS (paper, etc.)

PLANT TREES

EAT ECO-FOOD:
[LIST]
*]REDUCE MEAT, reduce impact on land & energy use, & improve health.
*]Eat ORGANIC
*]Eat raw produce, good for health & earth.
*]Become a LOCAVORE & eat locally grown produce.
[/LIST]
SAFE® ALTERNATIVES TO PESTICIDES & OTHER TOXIC PRODUCTS
[LIST]
*]Safer Pest Control Project has tips at: spcpweb.org
*]GardensAlive.com - for non-toxic pesticides.
*]to reduce exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals, see ourstolenfuture.org/basics/chemlist.htm
*]Avoid harmful personal care products - see youtube.com/watch?v=pfq000AF1i8 ; and find out the safety of your products at ewg.org/skindeep
[/LIST]

Thank you for this topic, so near and dear to my heart! It just breaks my heart how little so many people (Catholic and otherwise) seem to care about one of God’s original intentions when creating human beings: to subdue the Earth doesn’t mean to abuse it, but rather to be good stewards of it! Why has “being green” become a political “special interest” instead of part and parcel of us living out our Christian values?

Anyhow, my husband and I just joined our parish’s Green Team, so I have to suggest for anyone with any clout at their church to suggest to their pastor enrolling their church in GreenFaith’s 2 year leadership program, that aims to “green” the parish on several fronts. Here’s their website: greenfaith.org/ :thumbsup:

And I’d also like to add a few suggestions to your already great list of small things that make a difference:

Launder clothes on cold cycle
Line dry (especially in hot weather!)
Don’t use your stove in hot weather
Open windows for cross breeze on moderate days
Flush your pets’ business instead of throwing it in the garbage wrapped in a plastic bag
Use cloth shopping bags (I don’t understand how anyone would choose plastic or paper over cloth if they’ve ever tried cloth! They’re so convenient and comfortable to carry multiple bags!)

Of course, there’s always more! I hope more people will be more active this time around!

Reduce, reuse, recycle. And plant a tree.

Compost kitchen waste! We are growing some fine tomatoes (Better Boys, Health Kick, Super Fantastic and Patio) in our compost right now!

Grow your own food! We don’t have a great growing season here, but we’ve got potatoes, tomatoes, raspberries, Saskatoon berries, and herbs.

Cold water laundry! The detergents are much better these days.

Low flow toilets, and faucets, compact fluorescent and LED lights.

etc., etc.

I’d like to go off grid when I can afford the technology.

I’m so glad this thread was started. :thumbsup:

Yet another misconception people have about Christians is that we’re all of the “use of the earth’s resources, global warming is a myth” mindset. That is not the Catholic position.

Along with our Anglican bretheren, we see our role as being stewards of nature.

I think that along with the practical measures we can take for the environment, we also have a mission to educate the public.

Is anyone familiar with the Catholic back to the land movement from the early 20th Century? I’m not, so if anyone can offer a quick summary of it or point me towards some good reading material (web or books) I’d really appreciate it.

Turn off the shower when you lather up or shave.

Vinegar,lemon and baking soda for home cleaning. see:housekeeping.about.com/od/environment/a/Homemade-And-Natural-Cleaning-Products.htm

Unplug cellphone, battery chargers.

Unplug lamps that are not use daily. I learned this the hard way as my dog enjoys walking between narrow spaces dragging the cord and lamp with her.:o

Stop free local newspapers. Read online.

Request e-billing.

Crush all recyable containers to its smallest form. Do not put out recyable bins until full.

I just started doing this. (Pending local laws. Do not use the large black garbage can bags. Ensure small kitchen container bags )are tied tight and do not leak. ( out of respect for the person who collects garbage)

Reuse vegtable fruit bags for small garbageliners\ containers.

Use washed 1L individual milk bags for non food\liquid storage.

Wrap and tie a brick in a plastic bag and place in toliet tank if you can not afford a new low flow toilet. Check monthly.

Please stop buyng sandwich and small bags and start to reuse containers, yes you have to wash them and waste water, but that compared to the pollution it creates is so small.

I am still working on this one. Reuse your glass or plate. Rinse off and put aside.

Archieve (dot) org has links ( Open library. Sign up and take out books, on line) to free ebooks that are no longer in print and\or laws have passed. Out of pleasure, I read on line the ways of cooking, gardening and life instructions for the 19th and 20th century. Very charming and helpful. I do believe that they respected life, nature and others as their faith was a way of being.

Thank you!

Composting, of course! How did I forget! We’ve been composting for about 2 years now, but we don’t have a green thumb and a very small yard, so not sure what to do with the compost once it’s done! :shrug:

Thanks for the brick-in-bag idea for the toilet!

Get big businesses who pump millions of tons of pollutants into the air to get proven, on the shelf technology and clean up their act.

yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/79c090e81f0578738525781f0043619b/c742df7944b37c50852579e400594f8f!OpenDocument

Peace,
Ed

And solar is working out better than I expected.

acore.org/us-pref-study-released-concludes-solar-tax-credit-pays-for-itself/

Peace,
Ed

Fracking is neither as benign nor a good alternative to coal and oil as the EPA or others would have it. A more recent study (than your link) has found that fracking has a much greater GHG footprint than even coal, not to mention all its local problems, like polluting groundwater for many millennia – so we can blow dry our hair quickly for a hot date on Sat nite?

See: Fugitive Methane Caught in the Act of Raising GHG, forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/07/15/fugitive-methane-caught-in-the-act-of-raising-ghg/

This sort of makes sense to me. I was wondering if they were accounting for the CH4 leakages or fugitive methane, which seems to me to be very difficult to control or capture. Apparently not.

So back to the drawing board and reduce, reuse, recycle, and the myriads of harder things to do. So much for the silver bullet approach.

I think simply working it into the lawn and shrubs is fine. It’s a wonderful soil amendment.

We need to get back to it. We did it years ago, but haven’t started in our new place.

It also isn’t the Catholic position to say global warming is necessarily true. Whether or not global warming is exactly as the pundits describe it is irrelevant to the way Catholics should view the environment.

I’m surprised that somebody mis-identified a uniquely liberal belief with a Catholic belief.

It’s not a Catholic belief at all.

Looking at the list of eco-friendly things to do, I find that I do most of them, not because of MMGW, which I think is a crock, but because some of them make economic sense. Some, like irritatingly abstemious water use is pointless in a place like this were we get nearly four feet of rain/year and have karst limestone geology. Creeks and rivers flow into the Mississippi, thence to the Gulf of Mexico. Why not use some of it? If one lives in the country, as I do, it goes back into the soil after use anyway.

Organic vegetables and grain take a lot of energy to produce on any kind of scale at all, and it’s a bit scary because manure is used for fertilizer. Unless you have acquired immunity to E Coli (which some farmers and ranchers have) it can make you very sick.

Beef, on the other hand, requires very little in the way of energy use to produce, and particularly if one eats grass-fed beef. High energy utilization in that is largely a myth, and grass-fed beef is almost entirely “organic” anyway just in the normal course of things.

Poultry and pork, however, require a lot of energy to produce. Chickens one raises oneself require at least as much energy as "factory farm’ chickens do. They are efficient. Most people are not.

The same is true of a lot of canned goods. If you enjoy canning as a hobby, do it. But you can’t grow and can, say, beans, and save any energy versus simply buying them in the store.

Where I live, solar heat is unnecessary nearly nine months of the year and largely unavailable a good part of the rest of the time. It was tried years ago and found very wanting. There isn’t enough wind in this part of the country for wind power. It doesn’t work in most parts of the U.S.

One “size” definitely does not fit all.

Oh, yes, and most raw produce is largely indigestible. Cooking most produce breaks down the cellulose so your body can access the nutrients. Otherwise, with lots of vegetables, you might as well be eating wood.

Actually, juicing and pureeing veggies/fruits is a better way to go (and that does require some energy, but perhaps not as much as cooking/canning). It helps to cure cancer and a number of other diseases – the raw, vegan diet. I’ve seen in work for many people. So for health reasons, if not for environmental reasons, it is a good diet.

I think your livestock meat is probably good, since it is grass-fed and organic. I’m thinking the real risk in meat is the pesticides that bioaccumulate, and perhaps not the meat per se. Not sure if any studies bear that out, but there are studies that implicate meat-based diets in cancer and heart-disease.

I forgot to mention that this is a great cure for gall baddder problems – 2/3 raw produce, vegan diet. That along with a gall badder/liver flush in the morning on empty stomach (lemon or grapefruit juice mixed with olive oil).

I am so happy to see this thread! I haven’t had time to read all the comments and any suggestions I could offer have probably already been covered.

I am an avid environmentalist. I live on the coast of Oregon and I’m horrified by what I see going on here - littering, people stealing sand dunes (I’ve seen them) and river rock, decimating forests and the animals that live in them (bears, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, wood-rats, mice, birds, lizards, snakes…).

Fifty miles south of me there is a ship that was grounded and spilled oil. It’s still there. They cleaned up as well as they could but the damage was awful. Many of the people who live in my little town rely on fishing for their livelihood and I’ve noticed that their catches are no longer quite as large. We used to have sea otters here. There are no more and the attempts to re-introduce them have failed.

I’ve seen the scarring from clear-cutting. I’ve seen deer running from a bulldozer - right towards the main highway. I see massive RVs, even with the price of gas so high, and they are pulling cars. I’ve seen some RVs with garages built into them. I remember when the government was pushing for higher mileage in cars. What happened to that? Cars get horrible gas mileage and I know the technology is there. Even in the 30’s there was a car that got 30 mpg and it had a V8 engine and carried 11 people.

Most people don’t care. They trash this world and turn a blind eye to what they are doing. The earth can take care of most man-caused environmental problems but I think it’s becoming overwhelmed. I know that God wants us to take care of this earth. And we don’t.

It’s nice to see environmentalists here in a thread. I’m usually attacked for posting about environmental issues. I will read all the posts with great interest and I hope I can contribute something.

BTW, the clothesline will be going up soon. My electric bill last month was $41 for an all-electric home (that’s all we have here except for propane and wood). For most people here, the bills run way over $100 a month. I’m trying.

God bless you all! :slight_smile:

About washing clothes in cold water: I have done this but I have also read that some clothes should always be washed in hot water; e.g. dog blankets and bedding. There can be a problem with vermin if they are not; bed bugs specifically (and they are killed at 118 degrees F, I believe). When I found out about this I did start washing those items in hot water. But for most clothes I think cold water is best. Besides being energy efficient, it stops shrinkage and helps retain color. I live in Oregon. It rains here a lot! Today is the first sunny day we have had for awhile. I dry the clothes for about ten minutes and then hang them inside the house when it’s raining. It does take a few days for them to dry but they do and my electric bill is very low (although I’m sure it should be lower).

I agree that used cat litter should be flushed but I’ve read that no cat litter should ever be flushed. This is a problem that concerns me because I have six cats (long story) and they produce an amazing amount of waste. One is put outside during the day and does his business outside but the others must stay inside because there is forest behind me. I’ve lost two cats already. I don’t know what to do about this. I am currently using grocery bags and when they are filled they are tossed. I don’t like this but I don’t know what to do.

Oh, when I have flushed their waste, even if I flush a small amount at a time, it clogs the toilet. I also end up wasting water by having to flush the toilet so many times (although for myself I follow the old saying: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”). The Humane Society demands that everyone use biodegradable bags for cat waste. I can’t afford that - plain and simple. I just can’t.

If anyone has ideas about this problem, please let me know because I do feel guilty when I am throwing away bags that are not biodegradable.

About opening windows? YES. Not only is this free ventilation but it helps stop what is called “sick house syndrome” which occurs when people close up everything so tight that there is no cross ventilation and no fresh air coming into the house.

I would also suggest not buying furniture or other items that are made from particleboard or fibreboard that is not properly sealed. They can release formaldehyde into the air. Add that to a tightly sealed house and there is a real problem. People, especially children, can become ill. I think the best thing to do is to buy furniture made from wood that is not from trees such as redwood. Bamboo is a good alternative and it actually has some insect repellent properties. There are others.

I like the idea of juicing and pureeing! :slight_smile: A high-fiber diet is important for me as I’m diabetic but I also have TMJD and so have problems chewing. I love fruit and vegetables but I’m not eating enough of them.

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