Green Cleaning: Week #9

Eco-inspiration: “It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us.”  (Laudato Si, #160)

Eco-tip: Back to Green Cleaning following our Advent / Christmas break! This week we will take a look at three ways to “freshen up” the home!

  1.  Fresh bread box: After cleaning the bread box, keep it smelling sweet by wiping it down with a cloth moistened in distilled vinegar.
  2. Fresh lunch box: It is easy to take out the heavy stale smell often found in lunch boxes. Dampen a piece of fresh bread with distilled vinegar and leave it in the lunch box overnight.
  3. Freshen baby clothes: The addition of one cup of distilled vinegar to each load of baby clothes during the rinse cycle will naturally break down uric acid and soapy residue leaving the clothes soft and fresh.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Take some time this week to sit with this line from the inspiration: “We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity.” If we truly believed this, do you think we might treat creation differently?


California, USA (photo courtesy of Jennifer Marie Zimmerman, SND)


Endings and Beginnings!

As we close the year, many of us have a habit of looking back as well as looking ahead. On this final day of 2018, we might make an Ecological Examen of Consciousness, looking back with gratitude and looking ahead with hope. Find some quiet time today to use these steps to guide you in your reflection.

1. Give thanks to God for creation and for being wonderfully made! Ask yourself: Where did I feel God’s presence in creation during the past year?

2. Ask for the grace to see creation as God does — in all its splendor and suffering. Ask yourself: Do I see the beauty of creation and simultaneously hear the cries of Earth and of those who live in poverty?

3. Ask for the grace to look closely to see how life choices impact creation and those living in poverty and vulnerable places. Ask yourself: What challenges or joys do I experience as I recall my care for creation throughout 2018? How can I turn away from a throwaway culture and instead stand in solidarity with creation and those living in poverty?

4. Ask for the grace of conversion toward ecological justice and reconciliation. Ask yourself: Where have I fallen short in caring for creation and my brothers and sisters? How might I experience conversion of heart in the coming year?

5. Ask for the grace to reconcile my relationship with God, creation and humanity, and to stand in solidarity through my actions. Ask yourself: How can I repair my relationship with creation and make choices consistent with my desire for reconciliation with creation?

6. Offer a closing prayer for Earth and those who experience vulnerability living in our society today.

Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

Green Cleaning: Week #10

Eco-inspiration: “The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world.”  (Laudato Si, #161)

Eco-tip: More vinegar tips!

  1.  Fish bowl cleaner: Eliminate that ugly deposit in the gold fish tank by rubbing it with a cloth dipped in vinegar and rinsing well.
  2. Fruit stains: To eliminate fruit stains from your hands, rub your hands with a little distilled vinegar and wipe them with a cloth.
  3.  Garbage disposal cleaner: Garbage disposals may be kept clean and odor free with vinegar cubes. Vinegar cubes are made by filling an ice tray with a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar and enough water to fill the ice tray and freezing it. Run the mixture through the disposal, and then flush it with cold water for a minute or so.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: I don’t own a fish bowl but I have used these tips for fruit stain clean up and to freshen my garbage disposal, minus the “cubes.” A little vinegar does the trick poured down the drain in liquid form. Try one of these three tips this week and behold the wonders of vinegar!

Courtyard snow.jpg

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Green Christmas Dinner Ideas

Eco-inspiration: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”  (Laudato Si, #160)

Eco-tip: The last set of ideas to keep your Christmas green this year focus on the meal, one of the biggest blessings that we share with family and those dear to us. Here are three tips from Sustainable Baby Steps.

  • Organic, Local and Free-Range:
    Choose a heritage turkey or grass-fed, organically raised roast. Organic winter squash from your backyard, locally grown vegetables from the farmer’s market and homemade rolls all create a sustainable, delicious and healthy meal. Click here to learn how to make all this more affordable.
  • Natural Centerpiece:
    Create your centerpiece from natural elements, such as pine wreaths, an arrangement of poinsettias and beeswax candles.
  • Skip Disposables:
    Bring out the fine china, utensils and cloth napkins. Or pool resources from several houses for large gatherings.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: I am definitely familiar with the second two ideas and we used these at home when I was growing up. I’ve also seen both used in the convent homes where I have celebrated Christmas in the past few years.  When I was a child, we often had one of the ducks we raised as our Christmas dinner. This idea is the challenge for our convent homes as we don’t tend to opt for organic, local and free-range beef or poultry! Perhaps this is the moment for change!



Waterville, Ohio, USA

Green Christmas Decorating Ideas

Eco-inspiration: “‘The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation which must then hand it on to the next’. An integral ecology is marked by this broader vision.”  (Laudato Si, #159)

Eco-tip: This week we highlight several ways you can keep your Christmas green in your decor. These tips are courtesy of the website Sustainable Baby Steps.

  • Utilize Timers:
    All your Christmas lights should be on timers, from the strands adorning your trees to the lights outside. Don’t count on remembering to turn them off after a long day and plug the lights into a timer that remembers for you. Light timers can be found at any hardware store.
  • Ornaments:
    Choose durable and meaningful ornaments. Wood, metal, or cloth will all last longer than plastic or thin glass. And an ornament that symbolizes an important event from the year will mean it is kept and treasured for a lifetime.
  • Decorate With Nature:
    Avoid plastic doodads and opt for wood, burlap, or organic cotton. Bring in elements from the outdoors to incorporate into your home, such as a wreath of pine boughs or an abandoned nest in which to place a candle.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Which decorating tips have you tried? Which will you attempt this year? I love the idea of decorating with nature. Pine boughs are always so lovely and add a beautiful scent to homes. Let your creative juices flow and see what happens!


Lights at Toledo Zoo, Toledo, Ohio, USA

Green Christmas Gift Ideas

Eco-inspiration: “Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.”  (Laudato Si, #159)

Eco-tip: Here are three tips on how to keep your Christmas gift practice clean and green this year. These are courtesy of the website Sustainable Baby Steps.

  1. Decrease spending, stress and waste by having family members draw names and sticking to a ‘one gift’ rule. This allows each person to get one especially thoughtful and unique gift from someone who had the time to dedicate their effort.
  2. You can also do a White Elephant gift exchange: everyone only gives gifts they find around their home with no money spent.
  3. A Handmade Gift Exchange: Only handmade gifts (from hand-knit scarves to cookies) may be given.

Eco-reflection / discussion / action: Have you and your family tried any of these tips in the past? If yes, how did it work? If no, would you like to give it a try this year?


Kris Kringle Shoppe, Wisconsin, USA