Lenten Carbon Fast 2.0

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0 Introduction followed by weekly opportunities and suggestions for each week in Lent

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Let’s live more simply, so others may simply live.

As people of faith, Catholic social teaching asks us to care for each other and the Earth’s resources now. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis and several of his predecessors teach us about these Catholic teachings and our duty.  We are being asked to make these energy, waste and pollution reducing lifestyle changes in our homes, parishes, communities and world to care for our common home.

“When it comes to the care of our 'common home,' we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change,” says Pope Francis in his White House address in 2015 and in the encyclical Laudato si’.

Catholics know how to fast for Lent. But what is a carbon fast? It’s making specific lifestyle changes to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we put in the air from using excess energy from burning fossil fuels. As we reduce our carbon footprint we reduce greenhouse gases and warming.  The encyclical Laudato si’ honors the climate science research where there is overwhelming agreement (97+%) that climate change is real, is getting worse, and is mostly human caused. That’s humbling, yet empowering. We can effect change!  We’ve made this Ascension 2018 Lenten Carbon Fast 2.0 process easy and approachable for you.

Laudato si’ was written for all people and Interfaith Power and Light can inspire us. “As a spiritual practice, fasting purifies us and sharpens our intentions. Like pebbles in our shoe, the hunger pangs of traditional fasting prompt a continued awareness of the need to become more conscientious in our actions and to wholeheartedly commit to the inward transformation we seek. The intent with this Carbon Fast is to suggest Earth-friendly practices that will go beyond merely ‘giving up’ some conveniences temporarily, but will support a deeper transformation in your relationship with Earth.”

We walk with Jesus to reduce our carbon footprint. Parishioners are asked to join in on this second Lenten Carbon Fast 2.0 program to help care for our common home. Each week of Lent you’ll receive some suggestions to make lifestyle changes to reduce energy, waste and pollution. You can choose one suggestion each day, a bigger one for the weekend or choose one suggestion for the whole week to really engrain the new habit. Some changes are fun and interesting (kids often love to get involved), some are easy, some need education to understand and enact, some need a habit-change process with preparation steps, and some of these choices and changes are “courageous.”  You can do it.  Our parish is much further ahead in these changes compared to three years ago.  Even though we have a lot more to do, we are proud of the award we won from Faith In Place for our eco-efforts.  https://www.faithinplace.org/news/home-sweet-home-ascension-catholic-church-goes-green

You get to choose and learn how to make these lifestyle changes.  Engage your family, fellow parishioners and neighbors. Let’s make it fun and get it done!

 

May the Holy Spirit surprise you this Lent.

 

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0

Week 1 Opportunities and Suggestions:

Please read over the selections. Pick one a day, or even one a week.  It’s your process.  The goal is moving forward in your caring for our common home.  Progress, not perfection. 

  • Ash Wednesday -  “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  Consider how linked you are to the Earth, her resources, her minerals, but also to the pollution which becomes part of you and all.  Since your body is a vessel of the Holy Spirit, find one or more ways you can take better care of your body, more in tune with nature.  Find one way to be in a more loving, connected relationship with the earth and all of God’s Creation.  Please preview this Ascension Lenten Carbon Fast 2.0 and set your intentions for this Lent and beyond.http://www.oclarim.com.mo/en/files/2016/09/10b-photo-St-Francis-of-Assisi-e1473928173961.jpg

 

  • Many people like to reduce waste by sorting their trash, recycling and composting in their homes, workplaces, etc.  It’s a great place to start, yet we have more to do for our environment beyond this action.  Garbology is a fun, free online game to play, great for kids and adults. https://natuhttp://www.recycling.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/recycling-symbol-icon-outline-solid-dark-green.pngrebridge.org/garbology.html  Directions: put (drag and drop) each trash item into the correct bin.  Then you’ll learn some fun facts.  Keep hitting the “next” button to learn more.  There are times when you click and drag.  Very engaging, inspiring and entertaining! 

 

  • Speaking of compost, both Oak Park and River Forest have commercial curbside compost programs.  Oak Park calls it CompostAble. They take all food scraps and yard waste. Oak Park’s cost is $14.85 a month, added to your water bill, and you can split the cost with neighbors. Since you can put in grass clippings and yard waste, it works out cheaper than using the bags and stickers.  http://www.oak-park.us/village-services/refuse-recycling/compostable-program   The River Forest program is $18.72 a month, also added to your water bill. https://vrf.us/departments/department/4/service/4/Curbside-composting.html?utm_source=%2fcurbside-composting&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=redirect   Are you encouraged to sign up for this amazing, easy program, to reduce your landfill and make some soil in the process?  If not now, what prep steps do you need to consider this action?  If you live in a town that doesn’t have this service, or live in an apartment or condo building, you may find someone who uses the program in these villages and contract to use their bin.  Or, compost in your own yard.
     
  • Read any passage, or the intro and Chapter 1,  of the encyclical Laudato si’. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html
     
  • Easy, Oldie But Goodies:  Turn off the lights, turn off the water!  Make a game of it. Incentivize if needed to help your family make a connection to these habits and energy use and care for our common home.  Donate (some of) the money you save to a favorite organization.
     
  • Congratulations to Ascension’s Mindy Agnew for being hired as the Sustainability Manager for the Village of Oak Park.  Oak Park is focused and committed to the North American Climate Summit and the signing of the Chicago Charter/ Chicago Agreement On Climate And Community.  Please consider signing, too!  Easy.

                  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfNrY-5XrFNIqOOJgE9hEGHTPWHr3BsIghqthGmBvFtGVFk1A/viewform 

 

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0

Week 2 Opportunities and Suggestions:

 

  • What is climate change, global warming?  Is it real?  On the Archdiocesan resource page, https://pvm.archchicago.org/human-dignity-solidarity/care-for-creation-ministry there are Education and Community Engagement sections with several easy to understand resources about climate change from a Catholic perspective, for adults and children.  They include the Catholic Climate Covenant, CAFOD, Pope Francis and the USCCB.  A short 5-minute video from National Geographic has the well-known “Bill Nye, the Science guy!” (Kids enjoy him, too).  Watch one of more of these videos.  Begin to understand the difference between weather and climate. Understand that Laudato si’ supports the climate science.  Here we have science and spirit coming together!  With these resources, think about what you have learned.  What was new? What was challenging?  Discuss with your family the important, scary and challenging things you all learned. Begin to plan how to reduce your carbon footprint.  See what ideas come up. More tips and support follow!
     
  • You can begin this carbon reduction by assessing your carbon footprint.  There are many Carbon Footprint Calculators, some for computers, and many for phones.  You can explore finding one for your particular phone of try any of these on your computer:https://tse4.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.I3U0YeNUPxzMGe8LRrclQAD5D6&pid=15.1&P=0&w=300&h=300

 

  • Choose one of these carbon calculators, take the time to plug in your specific data. Get your children involved in this math exercise.  It will tell you about your family’s/home’s carbon footprint in tons.  It’s startling and humbling, but very important to do.  Remember, our excess fossil fuel use is challenging peoples’ very lives, livelihoods & lands all across the globe.

 

  • Changing your food choices to more whole, real, organic and local greatly reduces your carbon footprint.  Eat a plant-based meal on Fridays in Lent and beyond.  Shop local.  Sugar Beet Coop is our local, ‘cool’ grocer. Check them out and their great sales and many value items.  The best produce in town.  Bring your own bags and containers for bulk items.  Have your containers weighed by the cashier and they will mark that weight on the bottom, and take off that weight when checking out.  They have cooking classes for kids and   adults at their Sugar Beet Schoolhouse in River Forest.  Fun! Yum!

 

 

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0   

Weeks 3 & 4

Continuing our weekly opportunities and suggestions for each week in Lent

PDF Version

When we exploit creation, we destroy that sign of God’s love.  To destroy creation is to say to God, ‘I don’t care.’ And this is not good.  This is sin. 

You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ!    Pope Francis 

We walk with Jesus to reduce our carbon footprint. Parishioners are asked to join in on this second Lenten Carbon Fast 2.0 program to help care for our common home. Each week of Lent you’ll receive some suggestions to make lifestyle changes to reduce energy, waste and pollution. You can choose one suggestion each day, a bigger one for the weekend or choose one suggestion for the whole week to really engrain the new habit. Some changes are fun and interesting (kids often love to get involved), some are easy, some need education to understand and enact, some need a habit-change process with preparation steps, and some of these choices and changes are “courageous.”  You can do it.  It’s YOUR process.  The goal is moving forward in your caring for our common home.  Progress, not perfection.  Let’s make it fun and get it done!

You get to choose and learn how to make these lifestyle changes.  Engage your family, fellow parishioners and neighbors.

May the Holy Spirit surprise you this Lent.

 

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0

Week 3 Opportunities and Suggestions:

  • Please catch a film at the One Earth Film Festival      (March 2 -11) and include your family.  https://www.oneearthfilmfest.org/films-by-location/#near-west    This is one of the best ways to open up your heart and awareness of the eco-justice issues. Have a discussion afterwards and come up with at least one action item to do as a family.

 

  • Start planning an organic vegetable and herb garden for your yard.  Add in some native plants to attract the pollinators. You can also volunteer in our gardens!  Go to http://westcook.wildones.org/ as one resource for native plants.  Ascension received a Monarch Waystation Butterfly Certification for our native garden with its variety of milkweed plants and other native plants.  Gina Orlando saw about 10 Monarchs on some swamp milkweed plants in the summer!  It felt like a miracle.  We can help God’s creation!  You are welcome to volunteer for our Native Garden and Community Vegetable Garden, too.  The school has a small native garden.  A neat thing for kids to do, too.  Contact Carolyn Cullen cac@enviroporium.com for our Native Garden,  John Owens owens708@comcast.net for our Community Garden or Annie Boockmeier a.boockmeier@ascensionoakpark.com for our school Native Garden. 

 

  • Almsgiving.  It’s important to give during Lent.  Ascension supports the CRS Rice Bowl and this year the Housing Forward’s Supportive Housing Program to move five families out of the shelter into furnished apartments.  There are also environmental organizations such as Catholic Climate Covenant, Citizens Climate Lobby, 350.org, and local ones One Earth Film Fest and Green Community Connections.

 

  • We all have a lot of ‘stuff’ and we buy a lot of ‘stuff’ and we are continually encouraged to buy more ‘stuff.’  Our ‘stuff’ has a carbon footprint.  Watch this 20-minute free video, The Story of Stuff, with Annie Leonard. https://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/   It’s fascinating, educational and motivational.  After watching it, consider ways to reduce your stuff, to curtail buying excess, unneeded stuff.  Find three ways to buy local goods to reduce your carbon footprint and help the local economy.

 

 

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0

Week 4 Opportunities and Suggestions: Foster a mindfulness around your energy use this week and beyond.

 

  • Whenever possible, walk, bike, carpool, use trains, buses.  What is the most energy efficient way you can get to church, for example?  Mark your calendars for Sunday, April 22, Earth Day as a “Walk to church day!”

 

  • Are your utility bills too high? Save money and save energy! Are some of your rooms too cold in winter or too hot in summer? Elevate Energy has cures with a home energy assessment. They recommended contractors and rebates for insulation, air sealing, and energy efficient heating and cooling systems. https://www.elevateenergy.org/programs/energy-impact-illinois/   https://www.elevateenergy.org/schedule-a-home-energy-assessment/ Those improvements give the quickest return on investment, lower bills forever and increase resale value!  Nicor gives a free energy home assessment for gas use: https://nicorgasrebates.com/your-home/home-assessments
     
  • Unplug all appliances when not in use.  They draw some energy even if turned off.
     
  • Avoid idling since it wastes fuel.  If more than 10 seconds, turn off the car.
     
  • Install programmable thermostats to automatically adjust temperatures.  Reducing 2 degrees cooler in the winter and 2 degrees warmer in the summer can save 2,000 lbs. of carbon a year.

 

 

 

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0   

Weeks 5 & 6

Continuing our weekly opportunities and suggestions for each week in Lent

 

PDF Version

When we exploit creation, we destroy that sign of God’s love.  To destroy creation is to say to God, ‘I don’t care.’ And this is not good. This is sin. 

You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ!    Pope Francis

 

We walk with Jesus to reduce our carbon footprint. Parishioners are asked to join in on this second Lenten Carbon Fast 2.0 program to help care for our common home. Each week of Lent you’ll receive some suggestions to make lifestyle changes to reduce energy, waste and pollution. You can choose one suggestion each day, a bigger one for the weekend or choose one suggestion for the whole week to really engrain the new habit. Some changes are fun and interesting (kids often love to get involved), some are easy, some need education to understand and enact, some need a habit-change process with preparation steps, and some of these choices and changes are “courageous.”  You can do it.  It’s YOUR process.  The goal is moving forward in your caring for our common home.  Progress, not perfection. Let’s make it fun and get it done!

You get to choose and learn how to make these lifestyle changes.  Engage your family, fellow parishioners and neighbors.

May the Holy Spirit surprise you this Lent.

 

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0

 

Week 5 - WATER

We live on a water planet, next to the largest body of fresh water in the world.  Yet, clean, fresh water is precious and it’s running low.  Choose one or more of these ways to reduce your water use and honor this God-given resource. This Lenten Carbon Fast encourages you to even make some uncomfortable choices, and continue to choose new ones beyond Lent. 

  • Water flows at 2.5 gallons a minute.  Turn off the faucets while brushing teeth, washing dishes, etc.   Reduce shower times to 5 minutes.  Set a timer.  Turn it a family contest.   Donate your savings to a favorite charity.
     
  • Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees.  If your water heater is 5 years or older, wrap it in an insulating jacket.

 

  • Wash laundry in cold water.  Use an environmentally friendly detergent.
     
  • Wear clothes more than once, if possible.  Use towels for several days or a week.
     
  • Filter your water to remove toxins with a good filter. Britta only takes out chlorine and a few other things.  This is not good enough for the health of your family.  You may consider a Berkey filter (with fluoride filter) https://www.berkeyfilters.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiAxJPVBRB4EiwAsCA4aRtetsWiNG-Aew0Y1FJnSbhbFmA6wdfO4fFSthBPMiG52cE9NEBKABoC0xAQAvD_BwE. Or consider a reverse osmosis filter for your sink or whole house, and add in some liquid minerals.  Bring water from home in reusable bottles, preferably glass.  “Pack-in, pack-out” for Zero Waste.  Let’s stop the use of bottled water. 
     
  • In Ascension’s Pine Room we have a Multi-Pure water filter under the main sink with a separate spigot.  When you are meeting in that space, please use this filtered water in pitchers with reusable or compostable cups for low/no waste.  Let’s get rid of bottled water; it’s expensive, polluted and polluting.
     
  • Wear clothes more than once, if possible.  Use towels for several days or a week.
     
  • Consider installing one or more rain barrels to collect water for your yard and outdoor plants.  This saves energy needed to treat and pump water.   Create a rain garden in the spring.   Water tips: http://www.oak-park.us/village-services/refuse-recycling/water-conservation-tips.
  • Learn to water your lawn differently to promote deep roots.  Start converting part of your lawn to native plants and a garden.  Lawns are a primary source of excess water and herbicide usage.

 

 

 

ASCENSION’S 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0 

 

Week 6 – FOOD, FILMS  and HOPE

Holy Week is an excellent time to begin changes with food choice, which can be emotional and overwhelming.  You can do it.  Food change is one of the most powerful ways that you are your family can change the fossil fuel system.  And it’s delicious and more health giving!  We invite you into this adventure.

  • Changing your food choices to more whole, real, organic and local is one of the greatest acts to lower your carbon footprint and save water.  Add some new organic produce choices to your shopping list this week, as one example. 
     
  • The industrialized food system uses so much energy, fossil fuels and water.  The artificial pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are destroying the vitality of the soil and are polluting water.  Choose more whole, real foods.  Support local farmers.  When you eat meats, eat less, and choose pastured animals.  It will always be more expensive since land costs more than cages, pens and buildings.  Cows are a huge source of methane gas, one of the greenhouse gasses.  When you eat less meat and less often, it balances out in your food budget.

 

  • Check out the EWG.org (Environmental Working Group) list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15.”  It’s a great place to start. These changes help the health of you and your children, but also the health of air, soil, water, farmers, workers who harvest the foods, bees, other pollinators, plants and animals.  This act of mindfulness has extraordinary results and is an act of social justice.
     
  • Avoid Monsanto’s RoundUp/glyphosate herbicide because it’s is an antibiotic and probable carcinogen.  Please avoid spraying it on your lawn or garden, too.  There are natural ways to deal with pests that align with caring for our common home.  You have power in your consumer choices. 
     
  • Avoid GMO (genetically modified) crops, heavily chemicalized and processed foods and excess meats and choose something whole.  God must be pretty smart to avoid genetic information crossing species. As you honor your body as a gift, a blessing and a vessel of the Holy Spirit, it becomes easier to make these food choices and lifestyle choices. And help create some more peace and harmony by cooking a dinner at home and getting your kids involved (screen time free)!
     
  • Watch film shorts by the winners of One Earth Film Fest Young Filmmakers Contest to inspire your family in conversation and actions.  These 3-6 minute environmental film shorts are created by our youth at the elementary, middle school, high school and college levels.  Here are the winners for this 2018 season which can. https://www.oneearthfilmfest.org/winners/
     
  • Read a passage, or Chapter 6, of the encyclical Laudato si’. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html
     

HOPE!
 

Pope Francis says in Laudato si’, “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole world family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.” 

Thanks for being part of this change.  Catholics can lead the way with our vibrant Catholic social teachings. 

 

Keep these lists handy to work on them throughout the year, too. 

 

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This ASCENSION 2018 LENTEN CARBON FAST 2.0 is created by Gina Orlando, MA.  She has been a long-time parishioner, former music director, environmental and social justice advocate and member of the choir. She coordinates the Ascension HOME (Honoring Our Mother Earth) green team.  As an adjunct science professor at DePaul University, she teaches adult professionals about health of person, culture and planet.  This Carbon Fast is also inspired by Diane Moriarity, DRE, Carolyn Cullen and Cathi Knickrehm from last year’s process of creating the 2017 Lenten Carbon Fast and Mission.  Many thanks.