Simple, Daily Gestures
How hard would it be to live within Earth’s limits around the house?
Last year, our Mercy Institute released an inspirational and practical booklet for sustainable living at home: ‘Simple Daily Gestures’. It features ideas and stories of real actions underway in the homes of the Sisters. The title of this booklet came from the 8th Work of Mercy, Show Mercy to our Common Home, declared by Pope Francis in 2016. In its ‘corporal’ (practical, action-oriented) form, he said, Mercy to our common home ‘requires simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness and makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.’
Simple, daily gestures can indeed build a better world and they can be very easy to build into any lifestyle and any home. Here are some highlights from the Sisters’ stories found in the ‘Simple Daily Gestures‘ booklet:
‘We try to reduce by buying only what we need and purchasing products with as little packaging as possible. We try to reuse any plastic bags, plastic containers, paper bags, cardboard boxes, glass jars or printed paper. We try to rarely use our garbage bin and recycle all plastic, paper, metal and glass. We put organic waste into our worm farm or council green waste program.’ Elizabeth Young RSM and Michelle Goh RSM.
To help understand what Sr Elizabeth and Sr Michelle are doing, watch the ABC series “War on Waste”. It shows how our waste affects the world and how better to reduce our own waste and dispose of it properly.
To help you reduce your waste you can:
- Make compost – using your organic waste to make a nutrient rich medium in which to grow your own food.
- Reuse – milk cartons for growing seedlings, cardboard boxes for mulch in your garden, glass jars to store excess produce from your garden.
- Keep chickens – most of your organic or green waste can be fed to your chickens, and is then turned into eggs for your consumption and the manure adds nutrients to your garden.
- Recycle – add suitable materials to your recycling bin, which will eventually be turned into another item.
- General waste – make sure that you are putting your waste where it should be. Be careful with e-waste and batteries.
‘I research where products are being manufactured to help me decide what I buy.’ Anne Ryan RSM
Knowledge is the key for our purchasing habits. Our choices around procurement make a positive impact on our sustainable lifestyle aims. It would be wonderful not to need to purchase anything, but our reality is somewhat more complicated. To help make better ethical decisions around what we buy, here is a list of questions that could guide us.
Questions to ask about food purchases might include:
- Do I need this food?
- How is this food grown – has it been grown in a way that regenerates Earth, or takes away from Earth?
- Where is this food grown? And how far has this food travelled?
- How processed is this food and where was this food processed?
- How much packaging does this food have?
Questions to ask about purchases around clothing might be?
- Do I need this item of clothing?
- Can I buy second hand?
- Is this clothing made from natural fibres?
- How long will this item last?
- Were these natural fibres grown in a way that regenerates Earth, or takes away from Earth?
- Where were these natural fibres grown? And how far have they travelled?
- What and where have the fibres been processed – did this process have a positive impact socially and environmentally?
- How is this product packaged?
‘I am lucky to live close to public transport; so I use it or I car pool and I share a car with the other members of my community.’ Deirdre Gardiner RSM
Reducing our reliance on individualised transport is another way to improve our impact on Earth. Walking is always the best option, as is riding a bike to reduce our need for single use fossil fuels. If this is not an option for any reason, try using public transport or carpooling to help reduce the need for fuel.
Want to learn more? Have a look at what these people and places are doing to live more sustainably:
Ceres Melbourne: https://ceres.org.au/
Michael Mobbs: https://www.sustainablehouse.com.au/
Simple Daily Gestures: https://institute.mercy.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Simple-Daily-Gestures-booklet.pdf
War on Waste : www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/war-on-waste
Messages to: Rahamim Ecology Centre