Steps You Can Take Too!
The publication of Laudato Si’ marked a turning point in our family's efforts to live more sustainably. Before that, my wife and I considered ourselves environmentally conscious. We recycled, drove a Prius, and supported environmental causes. Reading Laudato Si’ inspired us to take a much more comprehensive approach to reducing our carbon footprint.
Here are significant actions we’ve taken over the last six years. I’ve used a double asterisk to flag steps that almost anyone can take.
** Arranged for a home energy survey and made our home more energy efficient by adding insulation and weather stripping, installing a smart thermostat, and replacing all our light bulbs with LEDs.
* Installed a solar energy system consisting of 30 rooftop panel and two storage batteries.
** Signed up for a green power program that uses renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind energy to cover any electricity we use beyond that generated by our solar panels. As a result, 100 percent of our electricity comes from either solar or wind energy.
* Replaced our gas-electric hybrid vehicle with a plug-in electric vehicle (a Chevy Bolt EV) and installed a charging station. As a result, we’re driving on solar and wind energy too.
* Replaced older appliances (washer, dryer, and refrigerator) with models that are much more energy efficient.
* Replaced gas furnace and water heater with high-efficiency electric heat pump and water heater, further reducing our use of fossil fuels.
** Purchased carbon offsets to cover our remaining energy use, including natural gas for our dual-fuel furnace and water heater and a small amount of airplane travel.
** Switched to a vegetarian diet and then, after a year or so, went to a completely plant-based (vegan) diet.
* Planted a garden to grow some of our vegetables.
** Stopped using fertilizer and pesticides on our lawn. Replaced some lawn areas with native plant beds. Added pollinator-friendly plants and a water feature that the birds love.
* Replaced our gas-powered lawnmower, string trimmer, and blower with battery-operated models.
** Kept up our recycling and started composting all our food scraps. Greatly reduced single-use plastics and packaging, e.g., using reusable water bottles and shopping bags and buying shampoo bars in place of liquid shampoo in plastic bottles.
** Helped form, and remain active in, a creation care team at our parish. Lobby our elected officials to adopt climate-friendly policies.
- Bob More, Care for Our Common Home Ministry, St. John Neumann Church, Reston, VA