journey starts with knowing oneself well and moves to loving
others. For some it works the other way around.
No matter what one’s faith
or lack of it, we are all searching. Searching for meaning
in our lives and wanting to make a difference. It helps
to have companions who share our beliefs and support our
For some this comes naturally, for
others it comes at a time of transition or crisis. Some
people call these moments grace; I see them as God working
in the world even in difficult times. To grow as a human
being is to more fully reflect the image of God.
Consider the times
and places you have met God. See below for a start. Click on picture to enlarge.
God Help Me! These
People Are Driving Me Nuts – Making Peace with Difficult
People by Gregory Popcak (Loyola Press, 2001, 800-621-1008)
Offers ways to apply our Christian beliefs in dealing with difficult
relationships. Uses engaging case studies and challenging exercises.
God Knows We Get
Angry – Healthy Ways to Deal with It (Sorin Books, 2002,
Stories and exercises to assist in the journey from anger and resentments
to forgiveness and freedom from memories of hurt and rejection.
To Celebrate: Reshaping
Holidays and Rites of Passage, 225-pg. book from Alternatives.
$5 + s/h (800) 821-6153, www.SimpleLiving.org
Planet Earth supports our lives. We must take care
of it. In Pope Francis’ encyclical, LAUDATO SI’, he calls
not only on Catholics, but all humanity to care more vigorously for
Here are 2 ways:
EASY: Some of us are just starting to awaken to the need to care
for creation, or have been busy with jobs, raising a family, or other
justice commitments. We may not have much discretionary time. OR, it
may simply be a relief to note that, “Hey, I’m already
doing this one!” Good.
A CHALLENGE: Others have been engaged in the environmental movement
for awhile and are ready to take a bigger step and multiply your efforts
by going beyond your own individual lifestyle to make a bigger impact.
Then, try the challenge of influencing systemic change in your
neighborhood, city, country, the world.
Either way, pick whichever fits your ability this week and do something.
To sign up for Monthly Leadership ECO-TIPS click
To sign up for Weekly individual ECO-TIPS click here.
1. FOOD - Because cows
produce methane which contributes to
global warming -
EASY: Choose 1 day this week to eat no meat - perhaps a Friday
CHALLENGING: Choose 1 week/month to eat no meat. If you are already
a vegetarian, fast from food (except water) for 1 day to be in solidarity
with those who don't have a choice.
2. REDUCE ELECTRICITY USE
EASY: This week pay attention to turning off lights when you aren’t
in a room.
CHALLENGING: Replace all incandescent light bulbs in your home with
LED light bulbs. Bonus: Talk to your office, place of worship, etc.
about doing the same.
EASY: Buy laundry strips (Earth
Breeze or Tru
for your washing machine instead of a liquid or pod packaged in plastic.
CHALLENGING: Write to the head of a corporation that makes laundry
detergent (like Proctor & Gamble based in Cincinnati) and urge
them to reduce plastic packaging.
4. SAVE PAPER
EASY: When making paper copies, print on both sides of the paper; use
CHALLENGING: Convert paper files to digital ones. Recycle old paper
EASY: Walk or bike when going somewhere under a mile.
CHALLENGING: Buy a hybrid or electric car.
6. PLASTIC PACKAGING
EASY: Assess: On your next grocery trip, take stock of how many items
you buy packaged in plastic.
CHALLENGING: Pick at least one item you usually buy that comes in plastic
packaging and find a substitute. Example: make your own yogurt, grow
your own fruits/vegetables.
EASY: Don’t buy bottled water. Take your own reusable bottle
CHALLENGING: Ask organizations you belong to (church, civic, social,
etc.) to provide washable cups, or other alternatives to bottled water
9. ENJOY NATURE
EASY: Commit to spend at least 30 min. a week in nature (walk in the
woods, plant something…)
CHALLENGING: Support a local nature organization with your money or
volunteer work. For example, Green
Umbrella in Cincinnati)
10. INFLUENCE OTHERS
EASY: Write a short letter to the editor in support of a local environmental
CHALLENGING: Advocate for environmentally friendly legislation and
policies with your local, state, or national government.
EASY: Cleaning is important, but cleaning products often come in plastic
containers. This week count how many of your home cleaning supplies
come in plastic containers?
CHALLENGING: Research which cleaning products can be put in curbside
recycling, which you can substitute other products for, and if there
are any Zero Waste stores near you.
12. CELEBRATE (Easter/Earth Day)
EASY: Celebrate Easter (Apr. 17) and/or Earth Day (Apr. 22) by honoring
new life. Find something that was dead in nature and something that
is beginning to come alive. Alternate expanded version:
EASY: Celebrate Earth Day (April 22, 2022) for a day, a week, or a whole month
by honoring new life. This coincides with the new life of Easter (April 17),
the end of Passover(April 23), and of Ramadan (May 1). Find something that was
dead in nature and something that is beginning to come alive.
CHALLENGING: Search your memory for any actions you’ve taken
this past month to help a person, plant, or animal thrive. Commit
to one additional act to reduce a negative impact your lifestyle
have on planet earth next month.
EASY: Take reusable bags to use at the
grocery store. Keep some in your car for miscellaneous. purchases.
CHALLENGING: Diapers – Cloth diapers may seem old fashioned but since you can reuse them, they are significantly less expensive than disposable plastic diapers. In addition, you’ve got rags for a lifetime.
EASY: Calculate your carbon footprint. Two free ways are available
here and here
CHALLENGING: Reduce your carbon footprint by 5%.
EASY: Plant something. Anything will count, but a seed or seedling that will grow into a food is ideal.
CHALLENGING: Organize a campaign to clean up and take care of a public green space in your neighborhood or town.
EASY: Make cards instead of buying them or perhaps send an e-card. Personalizing the card is a gift in itself.
CHALLENGING: Wrap a gift in a paper bag
and decorate it. Maybe use comics from the newspaper, etc. Re-use wrapping
paper, boxes, or bags from prior years. You keep these don’t you? :-)
EASY: When possible, patronize farmer’s markets and buy fresh products in season.
CHALLENGING: Join a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. Google “CSA” to find one near your home.
EASY: When ordering take-out food for home, remind the vendor that you don’t need plastic cutlery. They can skip the napkin too since presumably you have some at home.
CHALLENGING: If you’re not taking your carry out food home, keep a spork (combined spoon, fork, knife) or metal cutlery set with you so you can still “Skip
the Stuff” that’s
EASY: Run full loads in your dishwasher, washer, and dryer (or be adventurous
and dry your sheets and other flat items on a clothes line.)
CHALLENGING: If possible, transition to renewable
energy - Solar, Wind, or
Bonus: Consider installing one of these in a school, house of worship, office
EASY: Take care of the clothes you already have. Buy only the clothes you need. Consider
second hand clothing options.
CHALLENGING: Purchase clothing made of natural fibers. Avoid petroleum-based
fabrics such as nylon, polyester, and fleece.
EASY: Drive less; walk/bike more. (This doubles as exercise so you don’t
need a gym.)
CHALLENGING: Consider a car-free day once a week. (Maybe once a month?)
22. EDUCATE YOURSELF
EASY: Subscribe to environmental news like YES magazine,
Sierra Club. Read (or re-read) Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato
CHALLENGING: Learn about the practices of indigenous people. What native
Americans originally occupied your part of the country?
23. PLASTIC FREE JULY
EASY: Learn about the global Plastic
Free July. Do it
for a week. OR, join the Cincinnati area Plastic Free July Ecochallenge team
CHALLENGING: Join Plastic Free July for the whole month.
EASY: Share: tools with neighbors. Think lawn mower, shovels, drills, saws…
CHALLENGING: Color code glasses, dishes, and other possessions to reduce washing,
duplication, sanitation. For example, each child has their own color cup, or
put a colored rubber band or other marking device to distinguish one person’s
possession from another’s.
EASY: Avoid cleaning products that come packaged
in a lot of plastic.
CHALLENGING: Some online stores that specialize in environmentally friendly
cleaning products are Blueland,
Of course transportation offsets some ecological purity and often these are
more expensive. You can try making your own cleaners if you have time and
want to research it on Google.
EASY: Instead of paper napkins, use cloth napkins – Color code for
each family member so they can be reused for up to a week. Wash. Reuse.
CHALLENGING: Advocate with your employer to make environmentally friendly
steps in your workplace. Example: reduce unnecessary copying and recycle
papers after meetings.
EASY: Household lighting may not be the biggest
energy suck, but it is something you have control over. For 1 day, try turning
off unnecessary lights whenever you leave
CHALLENGING: Make it a habit - continue turning off unused lights for a month,
OR commit to doing an Energy Audit for systemic change. Click
here for background
EASY: Keep a reusable water bottle or beverage cup in your car to avoid plastic
CHALLENGING: Write to a major retailer in your community. Offer feedback on
their business models. For example, do they use excess plastic in their packaging?
EASY: Decluttering tip: Not everything has to be stored in your house. (Think
extra sheets, toys, canned goods…) That’s what stores are for.
CHALLENGING: Walk through each room in your home.
Notice what you use often vs. what are mementos or “just in case” items.
Make 3 piles: Save, Donate and Discard. Do something with the donate and discard
here for ideas.
30. GIFT GIVING
EASY: Instead of a plastic gift card, make your
own gift card accompanied by cash. If you already have plastic cards, reload
them instead of replacing
them with new ones.
CHALLENGING: Give an experience instead of a physical gift
EASY: Food shopping: When possible, patronize local farmer’s markets;
CHALLENGING: Even better: Grow many vegetables,
fruit, produce at home.
32. COOLING & HEATING – Part 1
EASY: AC & Heating. In summer avoid AC
until it’s 78°; In
winter set heat to go on at 68°
CHALLENGING: Invest in a programable thermostat to make these changes easy
so you don’t cool or heat your home when no one is there.
33. COOLING & HEATING – Part 2
EASY: Buy a ceiling fan. In warm weather run it counter-clockwise to cool.
In cold weather run it clockwise to force warm air down into the living space.
CHALLENGING: Reduce or eliminate the use of home air-conditioning. Substitute
fans or a whole house fan if possible.
EASY: Do not let water run while doing tasks.
CHALLENGING: Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators.
EASY: Reflect #1: Take some time to reflect on the past month. What worked?
What didn't? What did you learn?
CHALLENGING: Reflect #2: Every action has consequences. Become aware of
the outcome of your actions, reduce your impact on others, and walk lightly
Earth. Consider these practices to be a spiritual discipline.
EASY: At home, avoid using paper, plastic, and Styrofoam plates, cups, and
CHALLENGING: Propose reducing/eliminating paper, plastic, and Styrofoam plates,
cups, and utensils at your workplace, where you shop, school, factory
EASY: Keep reusable water bottle/coffee mug, shopping bags in car
CHALLENGING: Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle such as a hybrid or electric car.
EASY: Take a short shower rather than a bath, and shower less often
CHALLENGING: Install a solar water heating unit.
EASY: What clothes are ‘best’ to wear and purchase? The ones you
CHALLENGING: Buy less, skip the trendy fast fashion! Think about purchasing
high quality and lasting items.
40. RECYCLING GLASS
EASY: Generally, clean glass bottles and jars can be recycled in most curbside
recycling programs. Do it. (The metal lid can also be recycled but remove it
from the jar.)
CHALLENGING: Drinking glasses, light bulbs, mirrors,
window glass are generally not accepted in curbside programs. Recycle light
bulbs through hardware stores
like Home Depot or Lowes. Donate mirrors to a thrift store. Become a recycling
expert for your community by googling ways to recycle specialized glass products.
41. REDUCE PLASTICS
EASY: Keep vegetable bags for reuse at grocery
CHALLENGING: Buy loose products (without plastic wrapping) as much as possible.
Reduce frozen food that comes in plastic packaging. Buy fresh when possible.
EASY: Swap clothing with friends and neighbors!
CHALLENGING: Reduce microfibers from entering waterways and the atmosphere
by washing your clothes less often, spot clean as needed, and air dry clothing.
Mend and patch to extend the life of clothing.
GIFT GIVING - Autumn
EASY: As a gift to the environment…spend one evening a week in candlelight
with all of the electric lights off.
CHALLENGING: As a gift to your community, do a family service project together.
EASY: Pray: for nature, for leaders to support environmentally sustainable
CHALLENGING: Talk to your pastor, rabbi, faith
leader, etc. about mentioning during a religious service how the climate
crisis is a spiritual crisis reflecting
we humans putting the planet in danger and jeopardizing future generations.
EASY: With colder weather
impacting most of the northern hemisphere, resist the
urge to turn the thermostat up to 72°. Wear layers. Put on a sweater
(or two). Aim for 68° or even lower.
CHALLENGING: Assess the need to increase wall/roof
insulation or buy new energy efficient windows with a low "U rating." Act
on your research.
46. GIFT GIVING - Christmas
EASY: Give quality/interesting gifts that you
already have but no longer need. Donate to a cause in someone's name. For a
Plastic-Free, Zero-Waste Gift Guide click
CHALLENGING: If you have a talent, hand-make a gift or offer a service instead
of buying something. Instead of buying plastic or inflatable lawn decorations,
create a scene with sleds, snow people, etc.
47. REDUCE PLASTICS
EASY: Avoid things with glitter. Glitters are made from micro-plastics and are
ingested and detrimental to fish, birds and other wildlife.
CHALLENGING: Buy in bulk rather than individually wrapped items. Check out
Waste” stores and fill your own reusable containers.
EASY: Hopefully you’ve received a nice Christmas present or two. Identify
one current possession that you no longer need and donate it to someone who
does need it.
CHALLENGING: Choose one room or closet to do a deep dive decluttering day.
If relatives or friends don’t want your extra stuff, research the best
places to recycle or dispose of them. Act within the month.
49. SUSTAINABLE LIVING
EASY: Read the short REDUCE section of Global Stewards’ Green
Eco Tips for Sustainable Living
CHALLENGING: Choose at least 1 item from Global Stewads that you are not already
doing and act on it this week.
IMPOSSIBLE: Read all of the comprehensive Global
Stewards website and see if you can do 99%. This is such an exhaustive list it is virtually
impossible to do everything but see how far you can get.
EASY: Pray for vulnerable peoples and species, those affected by the climate
emergency and biodiversity crisis
CHALLENGING: Act on your prayer. Advocate for environmentally friendly policies
in your community, place of worship, the world. This usually means attending
meetings, signing petitions, getting political.
EASY: Use the cold water setting when using
a washing machine. Your clothes will get just as clean. Click
here for why. (https://wapo.st/3FcqGZ8)
CHALLENGING: Be aware that clothing marked
as stain-resistant or waterproof is often treated with toxic chemicals.
Avoid buying these. Click
EASY: Instead of paper towels use reusable cloth towels or old rags when
CHALLENGING: Try Who
Gives a Crap or Betterway plant
based toilet paper - no plastic packaging and the TP comes from recycled
or bamboo. They also have paper
and Kleenex type tissues.
EASY: At home recycle glass, cans, newsprint,
paper, cardboard, and plastic. Most curbside recycling programs take these.
CHALLENGING: Advocate with your employer,
company, or institution to recycle glass, cans, paper, and plastic.
EASY: Wash dishes and laundry on a full load.
(Update: Many modern dishwashers are more energy efficient and
use less water to run 2 half full loads than washing the dishes by
CHALLENGING: Install a system at your home to capture and store rainwater.
EASY: Tell a neighbor, friend, or co-worker about a green practice you’ve
CHALLENGING: Write articles/stories for newsletters or your local paper to
help others get in touch with possible actions they can take to further environmental
EASY: When possible, use a microwave, toaster oven, or slow cooker rather
than an oven/range to save energy.
CHALLENGING: If you’ve already calculated
your carbon footprint and are ready to reduce it further, consider a professional
energy audit of your
to improve energy efficiency. For info click
here. Also, for federal tax rebates currently available
for sustainability upgrades.for home energy audits, click
EASY: Newspapers often come wrapped in plastic bags. If you don’t have
a dog or other use for it most grocery stores have recycling bins for such
plastic film since it can’t go in curbside recycling.
CHALLENGING: If your local grocery store still
uses plastic bags, join or start a plastic bag free movement in your area. Past
Plastics-Cincinnati Coalition is an example.
EASY: Take public transportation or carpool when possible.
air travel. Online meetings have helped with decreasing air travel but
consider that optional travel (like vacations) might have the
side benefit of exploring the land & communities along the way.
EASY: Read the Introduction to Laudato
Si'. It’s only 6 pages.
CHALLENGING: Commit to reading the whole document (72 pages) over the next
6 months. Perhaps ask a friend to accompany you in this reading.
EASY: Clothing, particularly petroleum based garments, are often treated
with flame retardant chemicals (PFAS). Learn ways to “greenify” your
CHALLENGING: Get involved in your local fibershed community!