Lenten Alms for the Environment

Live simply, that others may simply live.

Mother Theresa of Calcutta

+ Drive less, walk or take public transportation more.

When you do drive, go slow and don't be aggressive. Obey a self imposed speed limit of 55 MPH on the highways. Fast from driving one full day each week. Don't fly anywhere in an airplane unless there simply is no other way to get there, it's one of the most environmentally damaging ways to travel. Take the bus or the train for inter city trips.

+ Eating is a moral act.

Buy local produce, grow some of your own food, and don't buy junk food (make your own treats). Look for opportunities to buy food directly from local farmers. Patronize locally owned restaurants, avoid franchised fast food. (A lot of the hamburger used by the national fast food chains is imported from countries where rain forests are being destroyed to provide pasture for cattle, so buying their burgers subsidizes rainforest destruction.) Cook meals from basic ingredients, avoid the high priced prepared and highly processed foods and their dubious ingredients.

+ Reduce your energy consumption.

Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. Don't accumulate electronic gadgets. Use only rechargeable batteries, never buy non rechargeable batteries for any electronic device. Audit your household's energy use, and take practical steps to reduce the cost and amount of energy you use. Turn the thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. Dress for the season indoors as well as outdoors. Insulate and weatherize your property. Many more ideas can be found at http://www.energyconservationinfo.org .

+ Fast from waste and gluttony.

If you completely fill one or more of the typical urban trash carts every week, you have a trash gluttony problem. Look for minimally packaged products. Complain to retailers and manufacturers about excess packaging. Compost all organic waste like leftovers, grass clippings, leaves, and other yard waste. Don't buy anything in a plastic bottle if you can possible avoid it. Glass and metal containers can be recycled indefinitely, plastic can usually only be recycled once. Recycle newspapers, magazines, junk mail, typing and copy paper. Recycle glass, metal, and plastic. Use less stuff, make less trash. Buy products made from recycled materials.

+ Flee the debt bondage system.

If you have credit cards, and routinely carry over balances month to month, it is likely that you have a spending problem. Pay off your credit card balances each and every month, unless you have a major emergency. Every month, pay a little extra on the principle of your mortgage or student loan, even if the extra payment is only $40 or $50. Once you get your housing paid off, never obligate it for debt again. Don't take out a second mortgage to pay other debt unless this offers serious interest savings, and then do everything you ca do pay off the first and second mortgages well in advance of their due dates. Don't buy consumer goods via installment payment plans. Make "payments" to your savings account and then, when you have enough money, buy what you need (car, appliances, etc.)

+ Shut down your spending on "wants".

Find meaning and fulfillment in spirituality and relationships with your family, friends, and neighbors, not in the amount of stuff you have. Avoid buying new stuff, patronize the "Aftermarket" in thrift shops, garage sales, and flea markets. Be frugal, make a budget and stick to it, and keep track of your expenditures. Instead of buying gifts, give something that you made yourself. Never try to make the giving of "stuff" a substitute for love and involvement.

Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House

1524 NW 21st + Oklahoma City 73106 + 405.557.0436

For more simple, sustainable and frugal living ideas, visit our Better Times website.