These Laudato Si’ Animators have responded to the call of Laudato Si’ and are bringing it to life in their communities.
The Laudato Si’ Animators UK (LSIUK) group, made up of 40 members at the time of this article, meets fortnightly to show a commitment to tackling the environmental crisis.
After 10 months of discussing the crisis in light of Laudato Si’, they decided to contemplate the changes they had made to their individual lifestyles and highlight their action priorities. They asked themselves: “What are your personal priorities?” The group answered and came up with the following list:
As Christians, the group values prayer and felt that it was a priority to pray more.
Members mentioned the Laudato Si’ Chaplet, “I use the Laudato Si’ Chaplet on my walks most days a week,” and praying continuously, “But above all, praying in praise of creation and repentance for all the damage we cause.”
The group also looks forward to incorporating the Laudato Si’ Movement Prayer Book, aiming to support their network and others in the journey of ecological conversion, foster a sense of unity and belonging, and invite others outside of Laudato Si’ Movement to share in our life of prayer.
2. Reducing meat consumption
Several group members make reducing meat consumption a priority..
Why is this a priority? They mention reasons of animal welfare and greenhouse gases, concluding that a main focus should be on the welfare of God’s creatures. As one member states, “We don’t just need to get our emissions under control, but to see all creation as loved by God.”
3. Discussing the issues and raising awareness
The group realizes the importance of ongoing conversion at the institutional and communal level alongside individual conversion. This is seen as obeying “the call of God…which to me at this time is systemic change in the political life of the country and in the Church structures, too.” One way they do this is by promoting the Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition to lift up the voices of the most vulnerable and advocate on their behalf.
4. Lobbying and Campaigning
Lobbying and campaigning are a main priority as well. One group member shares her reasoning: “Assertively contacting politicians and political candidates…clearly affects their thinking and so is a very impactful use of time.”
Another committed to “lobbying, leafleting, writing and getting involved in plans for COP26 last year.” People are aware that governments and businesses must act to combat environmental degradation. Virginia Bell, contact for the writing group, said,, “The crisis has made campaigners of us; warriors under the Laudato Si’ banner!” The Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition will be used to campaign at this year’s United Nations Biodiversity Conference, where world leaders aim to set meaningful targets to protect creation.
5. Driving less and walking/cycling more
The group is committed to driving less and walking or cycling more to reduce carbon emissions, allowing group members to have more reflective time in nature and take care of themselves.
“The quietness of the last year has encouraged me to take more reflective time in nature – to notice the plants and the birds on my daily walks and to bring the glory back to God,” said one member.
This feeling of enjoying nature was echoed by many: “This gives me the opportunity to observe the countryside, especially as the beauty of spring time has manifested itself in the trees, flowers, birds, and insects.”
Taking care of God’s creatures includes ourselves, as one member pointed out: “I have made an effort to maintain fitness by riding a bicycle. After all, we do have a duty to maintain good health, as our body is a ‘temple of God’ according to 1 Corinthians 6:19.”
6. Reduce energy use, increase energy efficiency and use green energy
The group is making a big effort to reduce energy use and increase energy efficiency at home by changing to green energy alternatives, hoping to motivate others to follow suit.
Some examples of how they’re accomplishing this:
- Using oil-filled radiators to heat one room in isolation, replacing gas fire
- Improving insulation and draft-proofing
- Changing to a green energy supplier
- Turning the thermostat down to 17-18°C
- Installing induction hobs to replace gas hobs
- Proactively seeking opportunities in the community (parish, village) to get people to switch to a green energy provider
Changing shopping habits is a priority that can have a big cumulative impact. By buying locally, shopping at smaller outlets, buying organic or eco-friendly products, and growing their own produce, members are taking charge of where their food comes from and putting their money where their mouth is.
What’s more, by changing shopping habits in one way, they have also encompassed several lifestyle improvements.
One person noted: “I have developed a larger vegetable garden with a group of fellow gardeners with whom we share our produce. This also ensures that I have reduced plastic waste and creates opportunities to share my reasons for changing my way of life.”
Another notes: “Realizing how much rubbish we produce by buying packaged produce, I now make a weekly visit to a small fruit and vegetable shop where products are not wrapped in plastic, and I can ask where they have been grown.”
Practicing and promoting eco-conversion is one of the group’s priorities, as shown by their responses that actions are an integral part of eco-conversion. Realizing that we need to change our way of thinking from “What is good for me” to “What is good for our common home”, members embrace change as needed to transform their surroundings.
They acknowledge that the world is a village and that what we do today within our local communities has a profound effect on people living in other localities throughout the world, and the effects may have severe impacts on future generations. St. Ignatius of Loyola once said, “Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God.”
9. Repairing (the 4th “R”)
“The 4th “R” is often overlooked when considering ways to deal with consumption. We are used to hearing, “reduce, reuse, recycle”, and forget that, not too long ago, most things were not discarded, but repaired.
Sadly, as Pope Francis points out in Laudato Si’, “We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard” (LS 22).
One example of this, as a member points out: “Fast fashion is wasteful in production and ends up in landfill even if we donate to charity shops; we all have more than enough and don’t appreciate all we have, we can repair and reuse what we have.”
Members are finding ways to avoid discarding and teach and learn from others the lost art of restoration and reparation.
10. Other priorities
Other important priorities for the Laudato Si’ Animators UK (LSIUK) group:
- Working with established networks to be able to learn from each other and do more
- A commitment to wasting less food
- The 4 R’s (Reduce, Reduce, Recycle and, of course, Repair)
- Avoid flying
- Live more simply.
Writing Group contact Virginia Bell points out that, “People have their own reasons for prioritizing actions, which doesn’t mean that they are not doing a lot more than that which they prioritize. Living more simply, for instance. In a way all the changes mentioned are indicative of living more simply.”