Today is April 22nd, which is known as Earth Day here in the United States. Earth Day is a day to promote support of environmental protection.
Perhaps we can talk ad infinitem about how “environmental protection” isn’t really Catholic in origin. (We can think about how some aspects of so-called environmental protection are actually diametrically opposed to Christian principles.) I’m not going to get into that here.
But we can remember when after Jesus fed 5000 men with the miracle of the loaves and fishes, “he said to his disciples: ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost’.” (John 6:12, DRB) We can also remember that “In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.” (Genesis 1:1, DRB) I think it only follows naturally that we are to be good stewards of all that God has created. If we squandered this away, would this be bordering on the sin of gluttony? I’m not sure. I’m not a theologian, rather, I’m just offering some food for thought. I truly believe in being good stewards of all that He has created, and perhaps “being a good steward” is a similar theme to “environmental protection”. So in honor of Earth Day, I will share with you, in no particular order, some of the things we do here on our homestead to make every day Earth Day, even though we just call it “trying to be good stewards”.
1. We drive a Nissan Versa. We have four vehicles: a Nissan Versa, a minivan, a pickup and a “Dollar Van” (15 passenger van). Our Nissan has a manual transmission and gets over 35 miles per gallon. We drive the Nissan as much as we can. It is our preferred vehicle. I have figured out how to fit three car seats in the back safely. Although we need the minivan, pickup and Dollar Van for the stage of life that we’re in, we always make the most fuel efficient choice we can.
2. We don’t use the dryer. We own a dryer which is probably not very efficient, but we only use it about twice a year, when we have an urgent need. I use the clothesline.
3. We cloth diaper. I used to be a member of the cult of cloth diapers. OK, so it’s not really a cult, but it seems that way sometimes. When I had just two in cloth diapers, I did crazy things like go camping with cloth twice and drive to New Jersey with cloth. Now I use disposable diapers when I’m on the go. I just really can’t handle cloth on the go with three in diapers. Even packing that amount of diapers for a twelve hour day on the go takes up too much room. So I do use ‘sposies, but it’s minimal.
4. When we go to Denver or Colorado Springs for a day of appointments, it is usually a twelve to fourteen hour affair. I coordinate my trips to go grocery shopping and other stores with necessary doctor appointments.
5. I make the most of leftovers. I try not to let anything go bad. I use scraps as much as I can. If I can’t use the scraps, I give them to the animals. I compost what can’t be used for the animals.
6. I compost cardboard and paper stuff. I take metal to the scrap yard (when I’m in town anyway). I take glass to town to recycle, during a trip for something else.
7. We homeschool. In our school district, preschool is a half day and does not run a midday bus. If I had enrolled my two oldest there, I would have to pick one up at eleven and drop the other off at one. We’re nearly 8 miles from the school. 8*4 = 32, 32*4 (days per week)=128. I save 128 miles driven weekly. The bus drives by our house anyway, so we are not saving the school district any gas by homeschooling.
8. We do hand-me-downs. We do thrift stores. We do garage sales. We also buy some clothes new and look for higher quality. Clothes have finite wear. We’re sensible about it. When clothes do wear out, they become cleaning rags, “baby butt rags” (cloth diaper liners) or compost.
9. We make good use of what’s lying around here, especially for our farming endeavors. Remember the Loomix tub? Case and point, really.
10. For our animals, we source as much as we can from our own land. We grow our own straw. We grow our own hay. We make fodder from our wheat.
11. We raise our own beef, eggs and now pork. We raise our own wheat. One day I might actually have a garden good enough to provide food for our family. I’m working on that.
12. I order everything that is economically feasible to do so online. The UPS and mail ladies drive by our house anyway.
13. We heat with wood. The trees on our property are in various stages of dying. Our heating fuel therefore comes right from our own property.
14. My children who have needed speech help get it over the computer, in a similar way to Skype. That saves a lot of trips, even if we actually had quality speech therapy locally (which we don’t).
15. We save some roof runoff for watering the garden.
16. We farm organically. Sure we’re not certified yet, but our practices are organic. There are no organic farms within a 50 miles radius, so farms like ours are rare. We don’t use those icky chemicals on our land.
Can we better stewards? I’m sure that we can improve. We are decent though. This list is just some of things we do, off the top of my head at least.
I think the important thing to remember is that whether you call it environmental protection or being a good steward, Earth Day is not just a day. It is an every day endeavor. It’s a lifestyle.
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