The Environment

“We brought nothing into this world.  You have come into the world, you found a full table spread for you.  But the Lord’s is the earth and its fullness.  God bestows the world on the poor, he bestows it on the rich.”  

– St. Augustine (Sermon 29, 2)

What St. Augustine Says

While there is considerable debate around the world about the causes and extent of the ecological crisis our world is facing, there is little debate over the fact that the environment has and continues to suffer damage.  At the core of the discussion is therefore the question about how we as a human family will share the goods of the earth in the present while considering what we will pass on to future generations.  The Roman Catholic Church teaches us the  Earth and all creation are a gift from God, given to be shared by all of us, including future generations.  This is one of the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching.  Both Augustine and Catholic Social Teaching invite us to a discussion on how to care for the environment that takes into consideration the common good of all people, including present and future generations.

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In the Words of Augustine

"Whenever you show greater concern for the common good than for your own, you may know that you are growing in charity."

Saint Augustine

The Rule V, 31

"The heavens, the earth, and everything that is in them, all these things tell me to love you."

Saint Augustine

Confessions 10, 6

"Your creation praises you so that we love you, and we love you so that your creation praises you."

Saint Augustine

Confessions XIII 33, 48

"We brought nothing into this world. You have come into the world, you found a full table spread for you. But the Lord's is the earth and its fullness. God bestows the world on the poor, he bestows it on the rich."

Saint Augustine

Sermon 29, 2

"who does not see that when a restraint is put upon the boldness of savage violence, and the remedies fitted to produce repentance are not withdrawn, this discipline should be called a benefit rather than vindictive punishment?"

Saint Augustine

Sermon 133, 1

An Augustian Response

Moving toward care of the environment for the common good of all people

01

Learn More

Learn more about the Augustinian response to the Ecological Crisis

02

Calculate Your Impact

Learn more about the impact you and your family/community are having on the environment.

03

Discover Quick Wins

Discover quick and easy changes you can make today to become more sustainable today.

Seven Laudato Si Goals

Ecological Economics

Ecological Economics acknowledges that the economy is called to prioritize people and the planet over profit.  Our very religious life is called to be a social statement on an economy of exclusion, which places people and planet at the service of the economy (favoring an extremely limited privileged few) rather than promoting an economy of inclusion, at the service of growth toward abundant life for all.  Actions could include sustainable production and consumption, ethical investments, divestment from fossil fuels.

Ecological Education

Ecological Education is about re-thinking and re-designing in the spirit of integral ecology in order to foster ecological awareness and transformative action. Actions could include ensuring equitable access to education for all and promoting human rights, fostering Laudato Si’ themes within the community. That means preaching on the Gospel imperative embodied in the principles of Catholic social thought, assuring their inclusion in all the courses taught in our own institutions and promoted wherever we minister. This is where we could promote articles and blogs in mass media on the Augustinian perspective on the environment, utilize our branded communications to give witness to our commitment, encourage symposia and provide formation content on Integral Ecology.

Community Engagement

Actions could include promoting advocacy and developing people’s campaigns, engagement with decision-makers, and encouraging rootedness and a sense of belonging in local communities and neighborhood ecosystems.

Adopt Sustainable Lifestyles

The Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyles is grounded in the idea of sufficiency, and promoting sobriety in the use of resources and energy. Actions could include reducing waste and recycling, adopting sustainable dietary habits (opting for a more plant-based diet and reducing meat consumption), greater use of public transport, active mobility (walking, cycling), and avoiding single use items (e.g. plastic, clothes and the like), a simpler life style, more in tune with our religious profession of voluntary poverty.

Ecological Spirituality

Ecological Spirituality recovers a religious vision of God’s creation in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy and gratitude. Actions could include promoting creation-centered liturgical celebrations, developing ecological catechesis, retreats and formation programs, and praying in nature. This is where our Augustinian perspective can be brought to bear, in and through our devotions, prayer life, vigils and such.

Four Pathways to Sustainable Living

Discover doorways to creating a more sustainable lifestyle

Shelter & Energy

Transportation & Travel

Food & Water

Consumer Purchases

Quick Wins

Discover quick and easy changes you can make to take the first step towards sustainability today.

According to Harvard University the entire lifecycle of bottled water uses fossil fuels, contributes to global warming, causes pollution, and is 3,000% more expensive per gallon than tap water.  86 percent of used water bottles become garbage or litter.

Families and communities can easily switch to water filters and reusable water containers and contribute an immediate impact on the environment.

K-cups are another source of plastic that end up in landfills.  The type of plastic traditionally used takes between 150-500 years to biodegrade.  According to the University of California San Francisco, the majority of K-cups are made of a type of plastic that is not recyclable in most areas.  Even if the cups are sent for recycling, they will often not be accepted due to the fact that they are small or not properly cleaned by the user beforehand.  

Communities and families can respond by switching to drip coffee and composting the coffee grounds.

According to the EPA, about 90 percent of the energy used by washing machines is used to heat water.  The washer motor only accounts for about 10 percent.  Using cold water for your next load of laundry can have an immediate and substantial impact on your sustainability goals.

Families and communities can easily switch to using cold water for their next load of laundry.

According to the EPA, running your dishwasher only with a full load and using the air-dry option can prevent 100 pounds of carbon pollution.  Further, you can save water and energy by scraping dishes instead of rinsing them before loading the dishwashers.  Most dishwashers today can thoroughly clean dishes that have had food scraped, rather than rinsed off.

Communities and families can adopt these practices as part of their regular routine of cleaning up after meals.