Guest post: Small changes for a sustainable future

Genesis 2:15 tells us that “The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it." But how can we help to do that?

In November 2015, 364 scientists from 184 countries signed a manifesto in the journal BioScience, an alarm of unprecedented scale, twenty-five years after the first warning from scientists in the world to humanity.

Over the past twenty-five years, the article noted, the quantity of drinking water available per inhabitant had dropped by 26%, the number of dead zones in the oceans had increased by 75%, fishing catches have dropped. The appeal also cites the loss of 120 million hectares of forest.

"Particularly troubling is the current trajectory of a potentially catastrophic climate change, due to the increase in the volume of greenhouse gases (GHG) released by the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and agricultural production", underlined the scientists.

Today, mankind consumes an enormous amount of energy and the cost of this energy increases considerably and continuously. It is therefore essential to act to protect our environment in order to avoid many climatic and other ecological upheavals.

Here are some steps you can take to do your part:

Stop Buying/Using Plastic Completely

Plastic has invaded the planet: Every minute around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased and thrown away literally minutes later. If we add all the packaging and plastic bags thrown away every day, you can imagine the monumental amount of plastic waste that humanity produces every day.

The worst part of it all? Plastic takes a very long time to disappear. Even then, it will only fragment into tiny pieces, called microplastics. Sooner or later, these end up in the water we drink or in the oceans where they are eaten by fish, thus coming back into the food chain and back to us humans.


The path to packaging sustainability is being developed, but it is made more difficult by the habits of a consumer society. New types of packaging made with environmentally friendly materials and processes are therefore important for the concept of sustainability. It is essential that packaging minimizes waste throughout the supply chain and at the consumer level: it thus becomes “ecological” packaging which encourages consumers to adopt the concept of reduction, reuse, and recycling of packaging.

For a greater social and environmental responsibility, it is, therefore, necessary to improve the design of packaging: a project that takes into account each phase of the product’s life cycle, which minimizes the impact that plastic packaging can have on the environment.

Switch to Biodegradable Products

Billions of plastic toothbrushes are thrown into garbage cans, landfills or the oceans every year.

However, products like natural bamboo toothbrushes, such as this one, are made from biodegradable materials like fast-growing bamboo. They are a great way to cut down on our plastic waste. Natural bamboo grows quickly and requires no chemicals to accelerate its growth. In the case of the bamboo toothbrush, if the cycle of use of the bamboo brush is completed, the brush is easily "recyclable" because it can be composted.

Try looking for a biodegradable solution to your daily-need toiletries, dinnerware, and kitchenware. You will be surprised at the large variety of options available.

Use Shampoo Bars

Shampoo bars make a big difference in the long-term. Many people consume several bottles of shampoo each year and then throw them away. This is undoubtedly one of the first reasons to cut down on liquid shampoo. Choosing a shampoo bar means opting for zero-waste haircare. Shampoo bars could help avoid the unnecessary production of some 552 million plastic bottles per year. Moreover, a single shampoo bar usually packs as many washes as multiple bottles of shampoo - so they are pocket-friendly too.

Prefer Thrifted, Reformation Clothes

Today, we buy 60% more clothes than we did 15 years ago. And we keep them half as long. Our wardrobe collections are reshuffled at breakneck rhythms. Wasteful much?

Buying second-hand means consuming smart, in other words, to equip yourself at a lower cost. Yes, buying second hand is even better than many festive sales! It is true that we have become used to buying new products and that the idea of ​​buying second-hand products tends to put us off. And yet, it is an opportunity to make a good deal.

Use/Carry Steel Straws

Of the eight million tons of plastic waste that ends up in the world's oceans each year, plastic straws are not the most common. However, this small, thin tube, the utility of which is often superfluous, is at the center of a growing environmental campaign aimed at raising awareness against the use of straws to save the oceans.

Small and light, straws are rarely found in recycling bins, a problem that can be observed on beaches. Although by weight, straws represent only a tiny fraction of the plastic polluting the oceans, their size makes them one of the most harmful pollutants because they become entangled and marine animals and fish consume them. So, carry steel straws with you in your bag, wherever you go.

By making some small lifestyle changes, we can do our bit to protect nature. We are all in it together, and it is upon us to make sure nature is still habitable for our future generations. Let us try and pledge today to make one small change this year, and for the years to come. A small change a day can collectively save our mother Earth.

Sarah Cole, a sustainability enthusiast, has written this piece for Catholic Ecology. She talks about ways we can all be a little more eco-friendly and strive towards a #zerowaste lifestyle. Follow Sarah and her thoughts here.

If you like Catholic Ecology,
you’ll love…

A Printer's Choice

The sci-fi novel with a Catholic twist.

A Printer's Choice

Learn more

About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.