The following feature is based on excerpts from a video in which Alice Cowardice walks us through the steps that she and her husband are taking as they begin a seven-year journey with Laudato Si’. Her reflection is featured in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. Learn more about the Laudato Si’ Action Platform by joining Laudato Si’ Week, to take place from May 22-29.
Watch Alice’s video:
How Alice and her husband are “walking the Laudato Si’ walk”…
Goal 1: Adoption of a sustainable lifestyle
We eat mostly vegetarian foods, use minimal plastic packaging, and recycle as much as possible;. We most of our clothes are second-hand, or over 5 years old, and we try to buy secondhand items as much as possible when we need something new. We have air conditioning at our house, but we haven’t turned it on in the last 18 months. We’ve also switched to energy-efficient lighting and low-flow water fixtures. We have a compost and worm farm, and buy all of our produce locally. Our biggest challenge here in Australia is traveling without a car or without flying.
Goal 2: Community resilience and empowerment
This is something that we struggle with a lot. I do some work helping schools and parishes, helping to empower them to action. However, in terms of advocating and against government policy, this is something that we don’t do much of
Goal 3: Ecological economics
We have recently switched to a more ethical bank and insurance company. We are hoping to switch to better utilities companies. We try to ensure that every purchase we make is ethical.
Goal 4: Ecological education
My husband is a nurse, so education is more “my thing”. I definitely try to teach through an ecological lens when at school. I’m also well-versed in ecological virtues, science and theology.
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Goal 5: Ecological spirituality
Due to Covid, I think my ecological spirituality have actually improved. For a while, I could not attend mass. I found it better for me to pray, in my garden, to God each day. My husband has never been overly spiritual, but he understands and I pray for him. I enjoy celebrating Season of Creation and Laudato Si’ Week each year as well.
Goal 6: Response to the cry of the Earth
We have solar panels on our roof, and pay for renewable energy. In our garden, I also want to increase our native plants and pollinators.
Goal 7: Response to the cry of the poor
We try to give back to those less fortunate through a range of avenues. For example, we buy a particular toilet paper brand and other “fair” products. We try to avoid buying from places that use moderns forms of slavery as well. The Catholic schools that I work at, we do a lot of fundraising throughout the year for local organizations. My husband, as a nurse, looks after the poor and vulnerable with compassion every day.
How do I go about making decisions?
During Lent each year, I like to take on a challenge. I believe that, to live an integral ecology, we need to sacrifice and move away from anthropocentrism. There is no better time to do this than Lent. Last year, for example, I went vegan.
To remain focused, I developed a calendar with some simple focuses each month. This will help us make decisions on what actions to take, but we have some big objectives that we would like to share for our seven-year journey. Our first step this year is to reduce our carbon footprint by getting an electric car. If I stopped using the car, my commute to work would take more than 4 hours every day. We’re looking forward to taking that as one of our first steps, and we look forward to our seven-year journey with Laudato Si’!
Not just t”alking the talk”!
*Update: We’ve bought an electric car! And I also wanted to help out schools, parishes and families during Laudato Si’ week, so I did this by running an online screening of a new Australian short film called ‘Regenerating Australia’ which is all about what we need to do in the next decade here in Australia to deal with this crisis.
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Your actions are highly commendable, particularly having a vegan diet. A large proportion of greenhouse gases come from meat production. Are you aware that approximately 20% of protein that is produced globally is used to feed pets? It could be better directed to people who are malnourished.