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Image credit: 'Worlds Away' ~ Megan Duncanson

How should we live?

A recent article prompted me to think outside the usual way of seeing things in relation to lifestyle choices and care of our common home.  Among many valuable thought provoking points made in the piece, I have chosen to mention those which struck a particular chord in relation to continuing to walk lightly on the Earth.

  • There is a  need to recognise that ‘the problem’ is not just plastic: it is mass disposability.
  • Regardless of what we consume, the sheer volume of consumption is overwhelming the Earth’s living systems.
  • The greed for plastic is a major environmental blight, and campaigns to limit its use are well motivated and sometimes effective.  However, we cannot address this environmental crisis by swapping one overused resource for another. E.g. two well-known Coffee Franchises have replaced their plastic coffee cups with cups made from cornstarch.  Where will the corn starch come from to support the production of the volume of cups that will be needed? How much land would be needed to grow it? Or how much food production would it displace?  Very often, because of the information being given we can end up looking to the wrong places for solutions.
  • We are all inter-connected.

The environmental problems we face are structural.  A political system captured by commercial interests, and an economic system that seeks endless growth. Of course we should try to minimise our own impacts, but we cannot confront these forces merely by “taking responsibility” for what we consume.  As consumers, we can be confused, bamboozled and almost powerless from media advertising and large volumes of information interspersed with mis-information.

The answer to the question “How should we live?” is: “Simply.”

But living simply is highly complicated as the ideology of consumption is so prevalent, that it has become almost invisible.

Living Sustainably On the Earth

‘One-planet living’ means not only seeking to reduce our own consumption, but also mobilising against the system that promotes the great tide of junk. This means fighting corporate power, changing political outcomes and challenging the growth-based, world-consuming system we call capitalism.

Disposable coffee cups made from new materials are not just a non-solution: [in this context] they can be a perpetuation of the problem.

Defending the planet means changing the world.

Does this ‘ring a bell’?  It certainly highlights the urgency of making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) real at local and governmental level.  The context and motivation provided by Laudato Si enables us to be, and to live the solution.

If we approach nature and the environment without…openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. (#11)


We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. (#49)

(From: Laudato Si: Encyclical Letter of  Pope Francis on Care for Our Common Home)


See also Fossil Fuel Divestment by Presentation Sisters

(The link Full text of Guardian Article HERE   by George Monbiot entitled: ‘We won’t save the earth with a better kind of disposable coffee cup’ ).




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